The conscious consumer’s dilemma
I want to be a conscious consumerist without being boring, tasteless and isolated from the cool kids. This post aims to unpack the profile of a conscious consumer for a city girl like me who loves fashion, food and beauty products.
What is a conscious consumer?
To me a conscious consumer is to have an awareness of ones choices effecting people/ animals and earth. Therefore making consumption (or shopping) choices that will bring the least amount of harm to others. Basically, to consume consciously is to have an awareness of the consequences while supporting the practice of kindness. For example, I love beautiful clothes, but I don’t approve of child labour and suffering. SO why should I support clothing brands that exploit children in order to mass-produce clothing for profits. By wearing these types of clothes I am subconsciously supporting child labour. What I wear, eat and use on my body has a direct impact on both the earth and myself.
But how do I know if my shoes or steak has been ethically approved?
The dilemma I find as a consumer is that I don’t have enough information. I don’t know who makes my clothes and whether what exploitation is involved. I don’t know if the steak I’m eating (because yes, I eat steak) was killed in a cruel and harmful way. The biggest key here is to start asking questions and becoming informed in order to make informed decisions. The problem is that many fast fashion stores and big food distributers don’t disclose all their information. The information that I do have at hand is that over 218 million children are employed, while 73 million work in hazardous conditions. On the other hand industrial farming is designed to maximize profit yield at the cost of the animals.
How to become a conscious consumer?
Does this mean that I need to stop shopping at fast fashion stores and become a vegan in order to attain a badge as a conscious consumer? I don’t believe that the answer is that simple. We have to be reasonable of our expectations of ourselves. Conscious consumerism is a process of awakening, let’s not be hard on ourselves. And we’re also not going to change the world in one day. Let’s take baby steps. For example, I’m not a vegan but I’ve massively reduced my meat consumption over the past 2 years and I’m really proud of this. Here are some more action steps we can take in becoming conscious consumers:
1. Support local
There are so many beautiful and earth friendly brands here in South Africa to support. Let’s spread the word!
I’ll be talking about this topic in posts to come.
2. Ask yourself: “Is it environmentally friendly?”
Glass water bottles
Reusable coffee cups.
Anything with the words RECYCLED on them.
Straws from glass/ bamboo/ stainless steel.
3. Does it contribute towards a better future?
Personally, I love buying products when I know that there a story of empowerment behind it. Whether its empowering women and creating jobs and new skillsets or whether it is organically grown vegetables and supporting a local farmer that isn’t mass produced. By supporting these types of businesses I’m supporting the chain of empowering others. Which makes the whole consuming cycle feel even better.
Becoming a conscious consumer offers the convenience-dilemma as you start asking questions that leads to different actions (not always the easiest). But there’s no need to be boring, tasteless or stiff about it. There are beautiful alternatives, it’s just about seeking them out. Our consumption choices can be more empowered as we seek to support local businesses, become eco-friendly and choose to contribute to a better future for all.