Is conscious consumerism really the solution?

This week we introduced the eco-term conscious consumerism on our social media pages. Conscious consumerism refers to a movement where consumers deliberately make purchasing decisions they believe will have a positive social, environmental or economic impact.

Despite the popularity of conscious consumerism, does it really matter and can it make a difference? Well, yes and no. Shopping with awareness is better than doing nothing, however this option is only available to those who have the privilege to even consider it. But, the reality is for most people on the planet shopping consciously isn’t possible because it’s just not financially feasible. Conscious consumerism isn’t going to save the planet on its own. It’s more effective to have a broader approach and interrogate the systems which allow the destruction of natural resources, the violation of worker’s rights and economic injustices.

In an article written by journalist Elizabeth Cline for climate and culture platform Atmos  in 2020, she explains that it’s more effective to acquire knowledge on supply chains to hold government and corporations accountable through direct action. This is just one of the various ways she suggests consumers can make a difference, aside from choosing where their money is spent.

Below are five things you can do instead, or in addition to conscious consumerism:

1.Invest your time and energy in volunteering with local environmental initiatives, organisations fighting for socio-economic justice and freedom, or worker’s rights.

2.  Just buy less. Instead of feeling the need to swap all your products for sustainable ones, just buy less of what you already have. It’s really not sustainable to buy a bunch of new sustainable things in the effort to be a conscious consumer. It’s much better to reuse old clothing as rags or DIY projects, partake in clothing swaps or buy second-hand as much as possible.

3. Get involved in your local government so you know what’s happening on a governmental level with legislation and laws. You can donate to causes, politicians or parties that you believe are trying to make a difference.

4. Figure out what contributes to your households carbon footprint the most and try to tackle that as much as you can.

5. If you’re thinking of buying organic clothing, bedding or furniture what you can do instead is petition against companies who use toxic chemicals in their products or underpay their employees.