Becoming a Conscious Consumer

posted in: Environmental Blog | 0

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Hopefully, this is a sentiment you’ve heard many times. Unless you grew up in a household where these were already the guiding principles your family lived by, it’s far more likely you have to make a concerted effort to think green. While those three words inspire many to think within the long-term health of our planet and its resources, it lacks the specificity that will help us all be aware about the changes we can make in our daily lives that will add up to change. Many of us are driven by convenience and cost, thinking it would be too hard or unaffordable to adapt.

Automobiles

The automotive industry is certainly an area in which costs can seem prohibitive to consumers as a viable option for reducing your carbon footprint. It is true that money would afford someone to enter the eco-friendly marketplace for automobiles much easier than someone who is on a tighter budget. However, as it becomes a higher demand, manufacturers are responding.

There are a number of hybrid options that position greener vehicles in a more accessible price range. Not to mention the fact that since these cars aren’t as dependent on gasoline as their predecessors, you’d be looking at a long term savings as far as filling up its gas tank. It’s important to be vigilant and do your research to learn what makes a vehicle more environmentally-friendly before you make your purchase. This may help you prioritize the different components that you feel are a must for your next vehicle so you know what you’re looking for when trying to find a car within your price range.

Bills

It may seem like a small thing to consider, but think about all of the bills or statements that come to you in the mail. This is just one small but easy way to lessen your footprint if its an option for you to access them online. Whoever is sending you the bill has to print it out taking up ink and using paper that could otherwise be saved for another purpose. People tend to be reluctant to recycle these recyclable materials because of the personal information that can be found on them, so instead they get ripped up and tied inside of a trash bag. Setting up auto-pay and paperless billing is a great way to start reducing your personal waste.

Clothing

Some companies are getting very innovative with the materials they are sourcing to develop fabrics to keep harmful fibers from making their way to our oceans. There are also some brands that are much more cognizant of the process and the waste that was being produced and are working to curtail that waste. 

When it’s not necessary to buy new clothing, consider shopping secondhand. Studies have shown that for most people, a considerable amount of their wardrobe is not even being worn. When they realize it’s time to clean out, their clothes don’t always make it to a thrift store. In America alone, there are more than 15 million tons of textile waste being generated each year. This breaks down to an average American being likely to throw away about 80 lbs of unwanted clothing per person annually. When we continuously choose to buy new, we keep perpetuating this vicious cycle.

The ideas behind greener fashion are simple and easy to incorporate into your life. As the styles change with the season, try your hand at thrifting and shop secondhand. People get used to certain brands because they like how it fits or the options they carry, and they might think it would be too much work to find the brands they love at thrift stores. However, it takes little time to find the labels you love by shopping secondhand online. Then when you’re done with clothing or looking to thin out your closet make sure you donate your clothes so someone else can enjoy them and their fate does not become sitting in a landfill.

Caffinating

Many people start their day with a cup of coffee or tea, looking to energize themselves. Between disposable travel cups, single use keurig pods, certain coffee filters and tea bags, there are many different ways a person’s morning routine can be producing unnecessary waste.

The next time you are looking to caffeinate, know that there are alternatives. Consider investing in a travel mug so you can make your coffee at home and bring it to work with you. Even if you are someone that stops for coffee during your commute, ask to see if they have any specials they run with reusable mugs. Companies are starting to offer a cheaper coffee or a small percentage off the price of your purchase if you use the reusable cup. So not only would you be making one small extra effort, but you could be saving money.

If you make your coffee or tea at home, your initiatives begin with your trip to the grocery store. Check to make sure that your filters and tea bags are made from decomposable materials. If you use a keurig, considering getting the refillable pod to avoid the plastic waste that comes with however many cups of coffee you’re making a day with the disposable pods.

Groceries

One really simple way to start getting into more environmentally friendly shopping habits is to buy and use reusable shopping bags. Make sure that when you head into the store you bring them with you so you can avoid needing the plastic bags. Again, this may seem small but when we stop to think about the estimates that suggest there could be anywhere from 5.3 million to 14 million tons of unrecycled plastic making its way from the coast to the ocean, the need to take part in environmental efforts in any way we can, feels much more immediate.

Do some investigating into your own area and see what grocery options are available to you. Shopping locally, and supporting farmers markets are great because the food hasn’t travelled nearly as far and therefore has a smaller carbon footprint itself. If you have the option, stores that carry bulk products allow you to bring in your reusable storage containers can help cut back on the disposable packaging.

Cleaning

Cleaning your home is a multifaceted mission when it comes to transitioning to a greener shopping habits. Again, your budget can really play a role in what you can and can’t do. If you’re already in the market for appliances you clean with, do a little research to see what models fit your needs but deliver the results most efficiently.

Until your current machines need updating, there are still a variety of cleaning methods you can employ that are not as harmful to the environment and yourself. Many of the commercial cleaning products you find on the shelves at the store are filled with harsh chemicals. Not to mention all the plastic that goes into buying new containers everytime you need more cleaner.

Making your own cleaning products from more natural ingredients most people already have at home minimizes the amount of chemicals seeping out into the ground from leach lines or headed for the water treatment plants to hopefully be cleaned out or to re-enter circulation at some parts per million. Each commercial product also comes with the impact of its production, so by making your cleaners at home you’re not contributing to the demand for these factory products and you’re hopefully reusing the same container over and over again, keeping plastic out of landfills and the oceans.

If you don’t feel crafty enough to mix together your own cleaners then at least try the commercial cleaners that are formulated with the environment and your familys’ health in mind, and be sure to recycle the container when possible.

Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to make the changes we need to make to help turn the tide on how we’re impacting the Earth. These kind of small changes to the things we do so frequently are a great way to ease into modifying our lifestyle in a manageable and sustainable way while also making a difference.

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