What is conscious consumerism and why does it matter?

What is unconscious consumerism aka mindless consumption?

It helps to know the dark before you can see the light. Mindless consumption is often fueled by greenwashing.  That is to say, preying on the good intentions of consumers. Consequently, you purchase goods in excess without considering distribution and product life cycle. For example, giant online corporations, who often favor profit over people, force these bad habits by constantly reducing prices and offering expediting shipping. Unconscious shoppers fail to realize that this perceived convenience often comes at the expense of the environment. For instance, a widely used example of mindless shopping is when you spend 30 minutes in the grocery store and end up with 17 extra items in your cart that you really do not need. You succumb to all sorts of marketing trickery.

What is conscious consumerism aka mindful consumption?

Conscious consumerism is a buyer behavior that is driven by a commitment to make purchasing decisions that have positive: environmental, economic, and social impacts. Mindful shoppers pause, think about any repercussions, and then make a conscious purchase. The conscious consumer conditions herself or himself to understand who they are buying from and what that company stands for. Conscious consumerism is a movement whereby mindful consumers “vote with their dollar” by buying ethical products and boycotting unethical companies.

The concept of conscious consumerism was first introduced in the 1970s.  First published 7/1/1972, W. Thomas Anderson JR. & William H. Cunningham composed the research article “The Socially Conscious Consumer. “Vote with your dollar” can be traced back to 1954.  Economist James Buchanan wrote an article titled Individual Choice in Voting and the Market” and stated that individual participation in the economy is a form of pure democracy.

Photo by Andrej Lisakov

Does conscious consumerism mean minimalism?

No, but minimalists typically engage in sustainable shopping. The three facets of consumer minimalism are a number of possessions, sparse aesthetics, and mindfully curated consumption. Minimalist shoppers limit what they own and what they do possess is often simple and uncomplicated in design. When minimalists decide to buy, they often engage in sustainable shopping.  That is to say, they purchase both conscious products & earth-conscious products. As a result, they have a conscious collection of goods.

What is shop your values” or “online shopping with values”?

Mindful shoppers take the time to make purchasing decisions based on values unique to themselves.  This is quite a powerful concept that raises self-awareness and could lead to an increased sense of empowerment in other facets of your life. 

Why does conscious consumerism matter?

This movement matters for the planet’s future. Making more mindful choices as a conscious consumer:

  1. Plays a role in achieving the UN sustainability goals.
  2. Is imperative from an ethical point of view (positive economic and social impact).
  3. Supports and strengthens the local economy.
  4. Triggers Industries to adapt and respond to meet consumer demand
  5. Enhances education
  6. Improves public health and safety
  7. Empowers you to purchase based on values unique to yourself.
  8. Feels good knowing you make a difference when you shop!
Sustainable Development

Conscious consumerism tips | Conscious Consumption examples

  • Look for and analyze 3rd party certifications.
  • Budget for it. 
  • Reuse, repurpose.
  • Demand transparency .
  • Price versus cost.
  • Shop with the heart.
  • Pause before you purchase. 
  • Applaud your small change.
  • Support your local small business. 
  • Reduce/eliminate single-use plastic.
  • Compost .
  • Once a week, go vegan or vegetarian. 
  • Buy for quality.
  • Choose businesses that are committed to sustainability. 
  • Research the company and the founder. 
  • Buy sustainable and toxic-free cleaning products. 
  • Reduce waste.  Slowly migrate into a zero-waste lifestyle.
  • Empower yourself and shop based on YOUR values.
  • Recycle. 
  • Practice mindful shopping around big sales.

Thanks to the power of unconscious marketing tactics, we carry deeply embedded purchasing behaviors. Moreover, it takes an ongoing commitment to change even when there is a desire to do good. It’s time to bridge the gap between intention and doing. In conclusion, it’s time we make a change. Baby steps. You will thank yourself.

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Jim Kupczyk

Love serving heart-centered, conscious based businesses. Founder- mindfulmarket.com

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