3 Easy Ways to Start Conscious Consuming
Are you overwhelmed by too many choices and messages about your shopping? You would like to make an impact, but the buzzwords are too many: Organic, Fair Trade, Direct Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Non-GMO. Here are 3 easy ways to get started with conscious consuming in your shopping choices.
First, a definition. Conscious consuming = we think about the impact of our purchases, and change our shopping based on our values.
Conscious Consuming tip #1: Be curious.
Start looking at labels. Where did this product come from? Wonder how it was made.
Later, you might look at the company’s website for these answers. Maybe you look at the certifier’s website too, to check out their standards. For example, you might want to know what they mean by “Organic” or what the heck is “Rainforest Certified”?
Conscious Consuming tip #2: Ask questions.
When you order coffee, ask your barista where it came from. Ask if the roaster knows their farmers, how they treat workers and the environment, or how the flavors are different from one country to another.
Bonus points if you ask at Starbucks if you can order a Fair Trade coffee. [You will enjoy this if you enjoy blank looks mixed with suspicion that you are crazy.] Actually, bonus points x2 if you just avoid Starbucks entirely.
At the grocery store, ask the staff to carry more Organic or Fair Trade Federation certified items. And buy them when they do it!
If a restaurant says their food sources are “local,” ask where exactly are these sources.
Also in restaurants, ask where the seafood came from. With shrimp in particular, this is both a quality and human rights question.
You don’t need to know all the answers to these, but you can spark some good conversations with others when you ask. You may inspire them to think about conscious consuming too.
Conscious consuming does not have to mean learning everything right now.
Conscious Consuming tip #3: Shop local.
Supporting local business is good for everyone. It keeps dollars in the community and encourages innovation.
You don’t have time to visit a bunch of small stores and would rather go to Target or Walmart? Try a handmade market or Old Town Farmers’ Market, where a myriad of businesses gather for a one-stop shop. Make it an experience and leave time to talk to makers and farmers about their goods.
A local small business usually knows more about their sources than a national corporation. Small businesses have smaller supply chains and want to encourage conscious consuming. They also have the flexibility to know their sources and can usually better answer questions about quality and labor rights.
Just try one or two.
If you attempt all of these at once, you’ll get tired and give up. This list is meant as a starting point for conscious consuming – just choose one or two and get started.
What ONE step can you take today?
Hey! I'm Katy Penner, Founder and Content Strategist. I love to eat outdoors, travel and meet Fair Trade artisans, and run occasional 10k races.