Scientists have now confirmed that human behaviour is dramatically depleting our natural environments. A 2019 report by The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has highlighted the gravity of our situation, cautioning that one million of the nearly 9 million estimated plants and animals could be tipped over the precipice in the next few years as a result of pollution, overexploitation, habitat destruction, the spread of invasive species across the globe, and to an increasing extent, climate change.
At Pilot Group we have been looking at ways in which we can do better for our planet as both a business and in our individual lives. One way in which this can be practiced is through conscious consumption. Conscious consumption can help us to reduce the effects of climate change, save our planet, and protect our populations from the spread of diseases such as COVID19.
What is the meaning of conscious consumption?
Conscious consumption means engaging in the economy whilst acknowledging the impact of your personal consumption on society and the environment as a whole. The idea of conscious consumption doesn’t hinge on individual perfection, it is about the collective actions of whole societies making small but incremental positive changes on a daily basis.
Conscious consumption is easy to practice. Simply purchase consciously and consume consciously.
We are now going to discuss some easy ways you can incorporate conscious consumption into your daily lives.
Agriculture is the main driving force behind habitat destruction, expanding over the past decade to now cover nearly 40% of land. In order to reduce the scale of our agricultural impact, it is advised that we reduce consumption of animal protein, which takes up far more land and resources than arable farming.
Whilst it is important to cut down on meat and fish consumption, we must focus our efforts on reducing consumption of red meat such as beef due to its huge carbon footprint.
It is also advised that we actively try to eat less dairy and soy, replacing these food staples with alternative proteins such as cereals and grains, vegetables, and pulses.
Opting to be less wasteful and saying no to fast fashion
Do you really need that extra outfit, or can you delve back into that wardrobe of yours? One way in which you can be less wasteful is through upcycling your old garments. Repurposing clothes is a really easy way to both save money and reduce your consumption. And you don’t have to be a sewing whiz in order to upcycle your clothes! This can be done simply by combining clothes in new ways and creating new outfits from unloved garments.
Buying second hand
If you are going to buy new clothes why not source sustainably through buying second hand, using tools such as eBay and Vinted in addition to utilizing your local charity shops. Ethical shopping ensures your consumption doesn’t have to create more production. When shopping retail you can shop more consciously through buying products that are built to be long-lasting or those which are Fair Trade Certified.
Recycling your unwanted items
If you have old clothes, toys and goods that you no longer use, you can give them to charity to be recycled. Alternatively, you can sell your clothes online or organise a clothes swap with friends, helping encourage your community to consume more consciously whilst saving money.
Click here to read more about fast fashion.
Finding manageable ways to cut down on day-to-day consumption
There are many manageable ways in which we can become a conscious consumer and cut down on day-to-day consumption. For example:
Avoiding single use plastics
The WWF have created a handy guide to cutting down on reducing your plastic footprint. These tips include carrying a reusable coffee cup or flask, giving up chewing gum, ditching the cling film, and saying no to plastic cutlery and straws to name a few.
Reducing your palm oil consumption
Global palm oil production has resulted in mass deforestation and destruction of nature. It can be found in everything from your soap to make-up and cleaning products as well as being used in the production of foods such as cake and chocolate. This means that cutting it out can be difficult. A great tip is to use the handy consumer scorecard from the WWF, which scores every major retailer on the sustainability of their palm oil policy, to ensure you are shopping more ethically.
Reducing your energy consumption
Easy strategies for reducing daily energy consumption include shutting down your computer at night, switching to LED bulbs, unplugging idle electronics in addition to remembering to turn off the lights!
Reducing your water consumption
There are many simple steps we can take to reduce our daily water consumption. This can be achieved through skipping baths and taking shorter showers, only doing laundry when you have a full load and stopping buying bottled water. To discover more tips on how to more consciously consume water you can use this Rainforest Alliance guide to Conserving Water.
Consuming certified and local products whenever possible
Look for locally sourced and sustainably produced food
Buying locally sourced food
One great way to shop locally is by visiting the National Trust website to find your local National Trust farm shop. Another idea is to check what’s in season before you shop, and then base your meal choices on your current seasonal range.
Buying sustainably produced products
Companies are able to claim their products are “ethically sourced” without having any documentation or standards to prove them. And because sustainability sells, many brands have been observed to be “greenwashing” their sustainability claims, misleading customers into thinking that their products are environmentally friendly.
A way in which you can ensure you are purchasing sustainably sourced products is through buying from Fair Trade Certified companies or buying from Certified B corporations who are “legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment”.
Support the important companies
Another way to consume more consciously is through supporting the important companies. For example, the World Land Trust who support environmental and rainforest conservation projects and provide permanent protection to habitats and wildlife.
But what effect will one person choosing to consume consciously have?
Whilst it is true that one reduced carbon footprint won’t solve our climate crisis, individual action still has the ability to induce change in organizations that do have power. And remember, conscious consumption isn’t about everyone being the picture-perfect consumer that knows the origin of every purchase and isn’t seen without their bike in tow. It is about a collective effort where we all try to consume a little better.
There are many more ways in which you can consume consciously. If you’re interested in learning more, why not join some of the Pilot Group team and sign up to Rainforest Alliance’s 30 day sustainability challenge.
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is a global network aiming to change things for the better when it comes to climate action, science and education, people and communities, conservation and restoration and plastic and pollution.