Published: Feb 18, 2022 by
One thing I’ve learned in my own journey to living a conscious consumer lifestyle is that most people generally agree that they would like be healthy and low-impact (two fundamental tenets of conscious consumerism). Despite showing interest, the primary concerns for implementing this kind of lifestyle are not knowing how to start or how to find the time. Going cold turkey might be the fastest way, but making small changes over time can be easiest when deciding if it’s a lifestyle can sustain.
So where do we start? The easiest place to start is with ourselves! Many of our routines and habits, or our subconscious daily behaviors, impede us the most; either we are not aware of our habits or our habits are so ingrained that they are hard to redirect. Read my article on habits here and a common method for changing them.
Through this blog, I’ll share what I’ve learned on my journey to be a conscious consumer and give tips on how to build healthier habits that encourage personal wellness and low-impact living. I hope this information can help other conscious consumers make decisions and build habits that allow for a healthier, more sustainable, and hopefully, cheaper lifestyle.
What is Conscious Consumerism?
While Conscious Consumerism has no fixed definition, and in fact isn’t listed in any modern dictionary, several sustainability-adjacent websites provide their own take. According to these websites, a conscious consumer can be someone who looks at a label to someone who is always conscious to someone who has an awareness while purchasing especially focusing on locally produced, ethical, and environmentally-friendly goods.
All of these are correct, though, for the sake of this blog, my own definition is a little different. It can be narrowed down from ‘always conscious’, but is more generous than just ‘looking at labels’ or ‘being aware of purchases’. I believe to be truly effective, a conscious consumer shouldn’t just look at their consumption, but at their entire way of life, because as human beings, our lives are complex and interconnected.
Purchases are an extension of our daily habits, values, background, impulses, even our attention span. When stressed, we may eat or buy more. When tired, we may not think critically about what we are buying. Part of being a conscious consumer means not only being aware of our purchases, but being aware of ourselves, and how our beliefs and habits shape the choices we make.
I believe instead that conscious consumerism is a lifestyle that promotes mindfulness, low-impact living, and wellness.
What do I mean by wellness?
I came across what the University of Maryland calls the 8 Dimensions of Wellness, which deconstructs personal health into 8 categories. While originally, I hadn’t thought of all these in my own mental framework of wellness, I now think that each of these dimensions is valuable. They identify not just physical or emotional health, but also other more nuanced dimensions such as social, financial, and vocational health. These dimensions interconnect and balance in an ever fluctuating ecosystem that impacts our lives and happiness.
But wellness also implies environmental health, and when speaking about lifestyle, means seeking to be sustainable and low impact. This means being mindful of how our choices and purchases affect our surrounding environment and the environment at large, and attempting to mitigate this impact as much as possible.
What does it mean to be mindful and low-impact?
A low impact lifestyle means buying and consuming less, ideally focusing on locally produced, ethical, and environmentally-friendly goods. These parameters mean different things to different people, but just having a protocol for buying under these guidelines can be enough. In doing so, consumers are mindful of how decisions effect the environment, other people, and personal health.
In short, conscious consumerism seeks to build habits that are mindful, healthy, and sustainable. As you seek choices that boost your health, the environments, and other peoples, you are also consuming less and generating less waste! And as an added perk, you save money too!