What is a conscious consumer?
You as the consumer, have all the power because it’s your money and you can spend it where you want, on whatever you want! When we add the word conscious to consumer it means that you are paying attention when using your power of purchase. Asking yourself questions like: Is my purchase harming my health? Is my purchase creating problems for the environment? Does my purchase indirectly take advantage of vulnerable people on the other side of the planet? We recognize brands from our childhood and typically carry those purchasing habits into adulthood without a thought. Here is the problem with these old habits… most of those old school familiar brands put their bottom line (profit) before our health, before environmental degradation and before the livelihoods of their employees (locally and especially internationally).
Fortunately, we are in a time of transition where new companies (some old guys too) are stepping up to the plate and providing the consumers with healthy, smart and sustainable alternative products and services.
Unfortunately changing habits can be a bit of a pain in the ass at first! I will try to make it easier for you by sharing my 6 tried and true actions to becoming a Conscious Consumer:
1) Conscious consumption starts at home. Pay attention to your energy, water, and gas usages. Turn off the lights when you exit a room, turn off the faucet when you are not using the water, keep the temperature of your home at a constant average- try to avoid the spikes of cooling or heating your entire home. Install water saving fixtures. Weather proof your home- fix leaky doors, windows or holes to the outside. Fix broken irrigation systems and set the timer to come on a night instead of in the heat of the day. Upgrade your ancient appliances. The new machines are much more efficient than those built 10-15 years ago. (just be sure to recycle the old ones responsibly)
2) Take some time to learn about the corporate side of your favorite products. Who are they? What is the company’s mission and motivation? Ask Uncle GOOGLE- Who are the owners and board members of …insert brand? Which political party/politicians does…insert brand support through corporate donations? What are their labor laws and how are they overseen at…. insert brand? Does… insert brand have a Corporate Environmental Responsibilities (CER) in place or GREEN initiatives in process? Keep in mind that every time we buy something we are supporting that company, it's board members and their ways of doing business (good or bad).
3) Think about the life-cycle of the product. What materials are sourced to make the product? How much water and dirty energy went into making the product? (for instance one smart phone needs 3,190 gallons of water to be manufactured and is made using mined rare earth materials like lithium- maybe you will want to hold on to that phone for another generation or two) How far did the product have to travel and how much carbon did it produce before it arrived in your hands? How long will the product last? Once you are finished with the product where does the “waste” go? To a recycle center, to a composting facility or to an at capacity landfill?
4) We have a ginormous problem with plastic and packaging waste pollution. We put plastic inside of plastic, use the product and throw it “away” into another plastic bag. We all know to BYOB for grocery shopping but here are a few other things you can do to limit the plastic waste: bring your own to go containers for your packaged lunches and left overs, carry a reusable water bottle, decline the straw, and choose products that are made from glass, metal, paper or *compostable materials over their plastic competitors.
How annoying is it when you receive a delivery in large box with a tiny item inside?
Tell Amazon (and similar online companies) in the comments section and on their social media to reduce and reuse the packaging they use to ship your goods.
5) With the growth of the green movement, it is becoming easier to read and understand the labels and ingredients in our products. We have labels like “organic” “free trade” “FSC” “energystar” “nonGMO” “ecocert” “rain forest alliance” “LEED certified” “MSC” “cruelty free” “No VOCs” “Bcorp” that can definitely help with your conscious purchasing. Unfortunately, we have some old corporate minded folks, green washing or trying to deceive the public about their green initiatives in order to sell their products no matter of the true cost. GROSS. It can still be confusing and frustrating, you ask…. who the hell can I trust⁉ Go back up to number one, do the research and listen to your gut. Guilty until proven innocent is my gut motto (in this case)! You will quickly learn to decipher the bad guys from the responsible companies that actually give a sh*t.
6) Think local. Buy local. Yes I know this is hard but give it a try, you’ll be surprised of the hidden gems you can find in your neighborhood. Shop at your local farmers/community markets for your produce. Support the few remaining mom and pop shops and the brave entrepreneurs who are opening healthy restaurants and small businesses. Try to limit the packaged goods that you buy from the large supermarket chains. Support local artisans, their stuff is unique- not something that was mass produced for Walmart or Amazon.
We are not against corporations. Green Maya is a corporation and a profit is also very important to us. However we run our corporation with the triple bottom line in mind. we BELIEVE that any business/corporation/entity that wants to still be viable in 12 years, must be calculating the environmental and the social expenses into the equation.
People + Planet + Profit = Sustainability
So EASY!! It just means that CEOs will not be receiving ridiculous bonuses and the corporations will not have the extra millions 💲💲💲 to lobby politicians. Call us radical but we are OK with that.
Perfection is not the goal, but awareness about what and how we consume is. Businesses will be financially forced to conform to what the customers ask for.
I recently visited Oaxaca City, Mexico because I had heard about the local artisans and well…I was not disappointed. The true craftsmanship and art that I found makes me very happy. Every single piece is an original and a display of the artist’s self expression. I was inspired to use my power of purchase and consciously consume :)
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin
Sara @ Green Maya Tulum
Ecotourism that combines nature, spirit, and culture to deliver the ultimate guided outdoor experience.
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