5 easy ways to be a more ethical consumer

Niki Bruce
Contributor
Marie Kondo reminds us of mindful consumption. (PHOTO: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

We all know that it’s time for us to pay more attention to the environment, and one way to do that is to shop more mindfully as an ethical consumer.

With seasonal weather going nuts around the world, it’s hard to pretend we don’t need to pay more attention to how we live in the world. Whether it’s trying to use less plastic to save the oceans, or shopping more consciously, there are a few simple ways we can shop more mindfully and be a more ethical consumer.

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1. Do you need it? Or just want it?

Will your life be immeasurably improved if you buy this item? Will it #bringjoy? Or do you just have a vague ‘want’ to own it?

2. Just wait

Yes, as simple as that. Your grandma and mum will tell you about how they used go for a stroll down Orchard Road just ‘window shopping’. These days you can phone browse instead. Choose a way to save the items you are thinking about buying – you can save on social media apps or on your computer. Then take a break; go back next week, or even next month and see if you really still want that item. You can also get as much happiness from anticipating a purchase as you can from actually buying something according to science!

Woman taking photo of clothing with smartphone while shopping in boutique shop. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

3. Set a budget

We all shop too much. We don’t need 10 pairs of jeans or 10 white t-shirts. You know you have enough clothes in your wardrobe or plates in your cupboard. Do a shopping detox; ‘freeze’ your spending for a month or two with a limited amount of money to spend on anything that’s not a basic expense. You can also limit your budget by deciding only to spend a certain amount of money on items that you buy a lot of.

4. Do your research

If you are going to buy something make sure you do your research and get the very best price for it you can. For furniture look at second-hand stores, vintage stores and ask your friends and family if they have anything you can use. Solid timber furniture, for example, can be modernised easily with a quick coat of paint.

5. How long will you use it? What will you do with it afterwards?

Another really good thing to do when you are thinking of buying something is to think about the item’s life cycle. How long will it last? Will it be able to be recycled? Or will it end up in landfill somewhere poisoning the water table?

These five simple steps can help you become a more ethical consumer. It just comes down to thinking consciously about what you are buying and why, and then it’s all down to willpower!

If you are going to be shopping, choose a retailer that supports ethical consumption in some way.