Whenever you buy something, you are voting with your money.
I first learned about conscious consuming from Alli Cherry on YouTube (check her out, she’s awesome!). In a couple of her videos Alli talks about being more aware of who you are buying from and even why you are buying something.
My zero-waste journey has not led to less stuff in my life, but less MEANINGLESS stuff in my life. Now when I buy something I’m thinking about multiple factors instead of just running out and buying what I think I need from the nearest store. Here are a couple tips to be a more conscious consumer:
Buying local is a great way to be a more conscious consumer because you are cutting down on the environmental impact of shipping and you are supporting your local economy. Shopping local can be as easy as going to a farmer’s market, checking out a local shop, or even researching online options that are close to you. Depending on where you live, you are going to have a range of local options. For me, Arizona is not the easiest place to get local produce all the time. However, I have found some amazing artisan goods (my rug addiction has reached a new high) in my area and in my travels around the state.
Etsy. Etsy. Etsy. I love Etsy so much, and not just because I have my own store (shameless plug). I started buying presents, things for myself, etc. on Etsy a few years ago and everything I’ve ever ordered has gone beyond my expectations. There is something so cool about connecting with an artist and knowing that you are supporting their work. Recently I ordered custom coasters from WoodBurnCorner and I don’t think many people will understand my excitement about getting coasters. I found WoodBurnCorner on Instagram and fell in love with her work. As I curate things for my home, I keep an eye out on social media of people I would like to support. Etsy is great because many times you can work with someone on custom pieces, like I did with WoodBurnCorner, and get one-of-a-kind pieces that are worth so much more than what you can just pick up at the store.
Do I need this?
I will be the first to acknowledge that I’m still working on this question – do I need this? Part of becoming a conscious consumer is acknowledging if you need something or want something or if you just want to spend money. If you need something, make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. Invest in a product that will last a long time and that comes from a sustainable source. If you want something, wait a few days if possible. Be sure you ACTUALLY want it. Don’t just impulse buy. It’s great to treat yourself, just do it intelligently. Finally, if you are buying something to just fill a void, walk away. You will regret it the next day because you didn’t buy it out of a place of joy.
Buy secondhand whenever possible
Again, I acknowledge that I’m by no means perfect with this tip either. When you can buy secondhand, do it. If you have never thought about the impact of the fast fashion industry, check out this article and start going down the rabbit hole. I’ll wait… Okay. Now that you know, buy secondhand and/or recycle. This is something that can take time to get used to. As a plus-size woman, buying secondhand is not as easy as going to Torrid because there’s not as many options. BUT, it’s worth the time. Buying secondhand is usually cheaper. Some places even have annual or semi-annual sales where prices are ridiculously slashed. Think about the clothes you last donated. Most were probably in decent shape, they just didn’t fit or weren’t your style anymore, right? Well your new favorite outfit could be sitting in a thrift shop right now.
Reuse what you already have
My last tip is probably the most important. If you have something already, reuse it in a new way. Stained shirt? New PJ shirt. Chipped bowl? New planter. Old jar? New storage container or candle. Many times, we buy things we think we need before we get creative and think about what we already have. For example, instead of buying a watering can, I use an old large cup that has warped from time and is cloudy from hard water (thanks Arizona). Another example is that I have a bunch of No. 2 pencils from a giant pack I bought in high school. Now I use them as stir sticks for candle-making or even as hair accessories. If you “need” something, look around and see what you have that you could reuse in a more efficient way.
All of these tips are easy to sit down and write about, but they take time to incorporate into your life. My blog is a lifestyle blog, and a lifestyle doesn’t change overnight. I’m still working on becoming a conscious consumer. I keep it in the back of my mind whenever I make a purchase. Sometimes I make great decisions and sometimes I don’t. Just know that it’s a process and becoming more aware is the most important step.