Have you been more aware of your plastic consumption recently? Perhaps you’ve been doing some more research here and there about the state of our environment and have decided to do the work of living with a more eco-conscious mind.
Well, that’s great to hear! It’s very easy to get caught up in the big scary statistics about where are planet is heading, and there often can be a sense of “things won’t change, so there’s no point in me trying to do anything about it.” If everyone in the world just slightly changed their mindset to living an eco-friendlier lifestyle, that’s how we can begin to see not just a change in the good of the environment, but in how societies respect our environments.
Now, what exactly does eco-conscious mean?
Defined by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Eco-conscious | adjective
marked by or showing concern for the environment.
Let’s start easy: shopping.
Shopping is something we all must do. We need to buy clothing, food, home goods, and much more. Here’s 3 things to thing about to make your shopping day a more sustainable or eco-conscious one.
Problem: Over consumption is an ever increasing issue, especially in the Western world. Call it impulse buying or maybe it’s just sensory overload but there is a culture of buying much more than needed. Justifications for these purchases range from “it’s on sale”, “I may want this later” to “I don’t want this to sell out in case I do end up wanting it”. A few decades ago, we would have had to patiently wait for the next season’s catalogue, make a selection and wait a few more weeks for the order to arrive. Unfortunately, it is today’s age of convenience and accessibility that has our landfills ballooning.
What to do instead: When shopping, simply think: Do I need this and how much of this do I need? Of course, it’s fine to buy things you want, and enjoy shopping from time to time. To be mindful with your spending, you can try make a list of what you want or need to buy and stick to it. This could mean meal planning for grocery runs and picking a few clothing pieces, home decor you want to add this season.
Problem: We don’t think about what happens when we are done with our products. This doesn’t just mean one-time-use items that generate immediate waste, but also items that after their life, are just plain hard to reuse or recycle.
What to do instead: Consider what the end-of-life looks like for your product and it’s packaging. Is it recyclable or compostable? Will the vendor or manufacturer take it back for reuse? Is there value in the used materials, or will it just become waste? A perfect example would be a glass jar carrying a product instead of a plastic one. Not only can glass jars be reused by you, but glass is also way more recyclable – and glass material is more valuable as a raw material than plastic.
Problem: If you knew more about your purchases, you might not want to make them. For foods, this includes knowing about ingredients and where/how they are sourced. We often buy things without looking at the labels and miss key information. For clothing and home goods, question if your product is made ethically. So many companies rely on poor labour laws and lax environmental laws, which are not only unethical, but also use unsustainable materials and practices.
What to do instead: Be sure to pay attention to the origin and longevity of what you are buying. If you have two products to choose from and they both look to be great eco-friendly options, always go for the one that will last you longer, especially since these can even cost you less in the long run.
As you can tell by now, there are quite a few considerations that go into making an eco-conscious decision or purchase. We hope this helps you on your journey to living an eco-conscious lifestyle and cutting down on the unnecessary purchases.
To end on an actionable note, here’s what to ask yourself on your next shopping day:
- Did I bring reusable bags with me?
- Can I repair/reuse what I have right now?
- Can I recycle, reuse, or donate before throwing it away?
- When was the last time I shopped?
- Is this produce in season?
- And finally, have I eaten before I make this grocery run?
Happy sustainable shopping!