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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

What is a Conscious Consumer?

You may have heard the term “conscious consumer” come up in conversations recently.  Some New Yorkers desire transparency in all of their purchases. In a general sense, conscious consumers believe in thinking about what they consume to minimize harm to their surroundings and to the world.  Whether it is food, clothes or housewares, conscious consumers aim to be aware of where the product comes from, the ethical values of the company that produces it, what is in it, and whether it is safe the environment.   


Be a Conscious Consumer without Breaking the Bank

Conscious consumerism is an appealing concept.  It’s comforting to know that the products you are using, the clothes you are wearing, and the food you are eating got to you through a moral, transparent process.  It’s also reassuring to know that nobody and nothing was harmed along the way. However, people that desire to be ethical consumers may find that the lifestyle is tedious and expensive.  Conscious consumerism appears tedious because you need time to consider and research the brands you are buying. The lifestyle seems expensive because often times organic farmers and companies that pay their employees' fair wages are left with no other choice but to charge more for their products.  

According to Mari Stuart, PhD, conscious consumerism is not about the type of products we consume, but it is more of a mindset than anything else.  Stuart states “the #1 money-saving trick for an aspiring conscious consumer is not cheaper responsibly-produced products — it’s a mindset shift. You don’t need to buy more ethically manufactured goods to be a mindful consumer; you just need to consume less.”

Here in New York, we are saturated with advertisements on the subway, on the street and in our own homes when we use social media, the internet or watch television.  This saturation may lead you with the feeling that you need the newest technology, or that you need a new jacket for the fall to keep up with the trends.  When you feel that urge to buy something new, it is important to take a moment and assess why you are really purchasing that item.  If it is something you truly do need, Stuart suggests looking into what’s available used, at second-hand or consignment shops. And if you are still unable to find the item, it’s best to buy a high-quality item that will endure the test of time.


The Conscious Consumer Debate

Some conscious consumers believe that instead of investing time and money in ethically sourced products, the movement should be about volunteering with local government and donating to environmental organizations that strive to create policies that better serve the environment. For example, “[i]nstead of buying a $200 air purifier, donate to politicians who support policies that keep our air and water clean.” matter how you choose to take part in the movement, if conscious consumerism is something you are truly passionate about, it’s important not to shame others that do not entirely understand the concept.  Instead, you can use someone’s lack of knowledge or different viewpoint as a way to create the meaningful conversation about how we impact the world through our daily choices as consumers.