How often do you hear phrases like conscious consumerism, social responsibility and sustainability thrown around? But what does being a conscious consumer even mean?
Simply put, you must be conscious to be a conscious consumer. What this means is you must think. Think about the values of the company you are buying from rather than buying something just because it’s pretty. Think about sourcing things from places where people were treated well, and the planet was treated well. Just think.
Detrimental Effect of Fast Fashion
We are living in an age where luxuries come cheap, and necessities are expensive. Sometimes, it may even feel like living as a conscious consumerist takes a lot more time, effort, and in some cases, yes, money. Fast fashion is everywhere and the convenience of it is what people buy into. You may see something on a Jacquemus runway one day and then find it in a Zara store the next – probably with a price tag that’s a fraction of the price. While they may have democratized luxury trends for everyday shoppers, there is a cost that isn’t reflected on that price tag.
For example, their speedy supply chains rely on outsourced and often, underpaid labor from factory workers overseas. To top it off, the quality of their garments isn’t the best because of the blindingly fast pace in which they are made. As a result, these items are as quickly discarded as quickly as they are bought making it environmentally damaging.
While the idea of being an ethical or a conscious shopper may seem like a complete lifestyle overhaul (which it is), it doesn’t have to be as daunting. It’s not something that can be reversed overnight, but each step, no matter how little, counts.
So, here’s our guide on how to start being and thriving as a conscious consumer. Remember, as the famous saying goes, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
- Research and learn about your favourite brands
Let’s start small. Think about which brands you spend most of your money with and learn more about them. How are their clothes made and under what conditions? What are the brand’s values and do they match yours? Are they sustainable and what’s their carbon footprint like?
If the answers to the above questions are negative, find alternatives that adopt better practices. You don’t want to be investing in a company that’s against everything you stand for or that does not value decent human rights.
- Support small businesses and independent designers
Supporting local businesses is good for the environment because they often have a smaller carbon footprint than larger companies. You can also find more personalized, unique items at many small businesses that you won’t see in the big-box stores.
By supporting a small business, you’re also supporting the local community. Spending your money there helps to stimulate the local economy and keep business booming and help to create and sustain jobs of skilled workers.
- Slow fashion over fast fashion
Shop and invest in quality pieces that will last longer than items produced by fast fashion brands. We understand it maybe be challenging to completely make the move to slow fashion, especially if you’re someone who likes to stay on top of modern-day trends. Try starting small. Buy a set of basics from a slow fashion brand that will see you through countless seasons and will enable you to mix and match outfits. Slowly but surely, that white t-shirt you keep buying every few months from Pretty Little Thing or Zara will be replaced by a slow fashion piece that you’d have to replace less often.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can never buy fast fashion, but you can certainly limit the number of fast fashion pieces you buy and how often you buy them
- Produce less waste
If you’re doing a wardrobe refresh, instead of throwing away all your clothes and accessories that will end up in a landfill somewhere, donate them to a good cause or sell them to a thrift store. This way, the items you no longer want can go to someone who needs it, thereby, increasing the lifecycle of the product.
But remember, you don’t have to make the lifestyle switch overnight. All we ask for are baby steps towards this journey. It’s important to give yourself grace as you venture on this personal journey, because that’s exactly what it is: personal.