Conscious Consumerism: Making Informed Decisions For A Better Future

by | Jan 1, 2024 | Lifestyle

Did you know, that according to a 2015 study, that “household consumption” was responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions[1]. To explain it another way, more than half the emissions were caused by the production and use of goods and services that most of us employ on a day to day basis. It’s easy to overlook, but this is the reality of consumerism.

The way we live and how much we consume is not sustainable for the world we inhabit. It puts a strain on natural resources and leads to environmental degredation at an alarming rate[2]. This is particularly alarming when one considers the rapidly rising rates of consumerism. In 2017, corporate banker Syed Ali Sajjad wrote a scathing op-ed in The Express Tribune[3]. Commenting on the rise of discount culture and consumerism in Pakistan, he noted “in the deafening noise of discounts and sales promotion, consumers are committing the most fatal mistake of buying things they don’t need”[4]. He went on to posit that this way of buying more and more is depleting not just our personal resources, but also impacting shared natural resources.

So, what is the alternative to this way of living? Surely, as we live, we must consume. But, it doesn’t have to cost us the planet.

What Is Concious Consumerism?

Conscious consumption builds on the tenets of overall sustainable living. It entails reevaluating and critiquing the existing mindset pertaining to consumerism and priortises supporting fairer more sustainable production practices[5]. At its core, as the name suggests, conscious consumerism is about being mindful and deliberate in one’s consumption choices. It is about thinking about how the purchase you are making impacts you, as well as the society and planet that you inhabit.

If you’re ready to make the switch to conscious consumerism, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Reduce Plastic Consumption

Plastic pollution is destroying the planet. According to the United Nations, approximately 2000 garbage trucks worth of plastic is dumped into the world’s water bodies every single day[6]. Pakistan has seen the devestating impacts of this. According to The World Bank, the Indus River is the second most polluted in terms of plastic waste, with a terrifying 40% of the solid waste found in and alongside the river constituting of plastic waste[7]. Keeping how plastic impacts our planet’s resources and biodiversity in mind, go plastic free whenever you can. Switch from single use plastic items to reusable containers and utensils. Opt for metal straws instead of using disposable straws. Use reusable water bottles instead of single use water bottles. Carry a tote with you when you shop instead of using plastic bags.

2. Eat Less And Better

Food production and waste is a significant contributor to unsustainable consumption. The United Nations Environment Program reported that a third of the food produced globally actually goes to waste[8]. What’s shocking is that even a food insecure country like Pakistan is not an exception to this wasteful reality. Research published in 2023 revealed that nearly 26% of food is wasted in Pakistan every year; which is the equivilent of $4 billion[9]. To ensure that you are not adding to these numbers, be mindful about how much you are eating, that you are not wasting any food and that you are making more sustainable choices in terms of the food you eat.

3. Consider Second Hand

A significant factor in unsustainable consumption actually goes back to how items are produced. In Pakistan, while energy contributes to 46% of total greenhouse gas emissions, 25% of this is actually down to manufacturing[10]. Thus, opting for reclaimed items (for example reclaimed wood when constructing furniture) or secondhand products can help reduce the carbon footprint of your purchasing patterns[11].

4. Support Sustainable Businesses

Conscious consumption focuses on being mindful about where you are directing most of your resources. So, whenever you buy something, think about the businesses that you are supporting. In particular, consider supporting local businesses that produce in small batches using sustainable ingredients.

5. Buy Less

There is ultimately no replacement for reducing your overall consumption. Overproduction and overconsumption are devastating the planet[12], and thus a surefire way of mitigating this problem is to actually reduce how much you consume.

Thus, by making small but impactful changes, you can start to pivot towards conscious consumption which in turn can help the planet and ensure a better future.














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