The world is a rapidly changing place with climate change being given a much higher billing than at any previous time in history. People are more environmentally conscious and interested in ethical living than ever before and the benefits of green consumerism are becoming apparent for many.
What is Green Consumerism?
Green consumerism is best described as consumers making more environmentally sustainable shopping choices. It is the idea that we can consume goods and services in a way that is not harmful to the environment and can be done in a balanced, natural way.
This could be through very simple choices, choosing to buy fruit and vegetables loose rather than in plastic packaging would be one example.
It is also about considering where an item came from, if you are importing something from China then that item has already flown or sailed for several thousand miles before it reaches you, buying something which is locally sourced is much better as it means all the fuel that would normally be used has been saved.
Fuel causes an increase in greenhouse gases which causes climate change and so your actions as a green consumer will actively help improve life on our planet.
Who are the Green Consumers?
Green consumers can be anyone at all. It just refers to those who make informed choices in a bid to help the environment. That being said, in terms of demographics, it is young people who lead the way.
This is not really surprising given all the publicity in recent months about Global Climate Strikes and widespread protests by young people in response to climate change. They also grew up in the age of the internet where knowledge can be shared much more quickly and new trends develop overnight.
Typically, they are the people who switch to buying shampoo bars and reusable water bottles first before older generations follow on. The young people also are more open to change, older generations may have been making decisions for decades without really considering the impact.
This is perfectly understandable as sustainability is not a key priority for them and they don’t understand what the benefits of green consumerism are. The key thing know is to educate people more widely on what sustainability and green consumerism is.
What are the benefits of green consumerism?
There are a huge number of benefits to green consumerism. Our planet is in a very fragile state and we only have a set amount of time to correct things.
1: Cleaner Planet
The biggest benefit of green consumerism is to the planet itself. By not using resources in an unsustainable way and producing huge amounts of pollution you are making the world a better, cleaner place.
2: Healthier People
The pollution caused by plastic production and importing causes all kinds of health problems, particularly in the less developed counties so by reducing the pollution cost you are actually improving the health and lives of people across the world.
3: Preserving our Wildlife
Many items, like plastic bottles are usually not disposed of correctly and often end up in the sea, choking our wildlife and littering our beaches.
Simple choices like not using one means that you will never be part of that problem, both the wildlife of the world and your bank balance will thank you for that.
4: Our Legacy
One of the biggest and most tangible benefits of green consumerism though will be to your children or younger relatives.
Can you ever imagine them asking you why you didn’t try to reduce pollution, try to reduce the plastic in the oceans or try to prevent climate change?
What would your response be to that?
You couldn’t be bothered walking an extra few minutes or using a reusable cup so instead you littered the world with plastic that will be exist for 100’s of years?
Of course, you could never say that to them.
The best gift you can give your children is a planet that is safe for them to live on. Don’t steal their future away from them just because it is slightly more convenient.
5: The Small Consumer Impact
No one is too small to make an impact and what we do can have large repercussions. Many of the larger supermarkets in the world are cutting down on their plastic packaging or introducing plastic free aisles because of the consumer demand.
As large companies began to lose customers to more sustainable stores they have been forced to adapt and improve their own process. This is all due to the power of the consumer which is something that we often overlook.
Also, many of the mainstream producers of goods like Coca Cola have had to switch to reduced packaging and cut down on their plastic use as well due to consumer pressure. Consumers are showing companies that there is a real market for eco friendly items and those companies that don’t adapt will be left behind.
Finally, wouldn’t you just feel a lot better knowing you were doing your bit to live in a more sustainable way?
Are there any negatives to green consumerism?
It can be very easy to just point out the benefits of green consumerism, but all choices have consequences. The negatives of green consumerism usually fall into two categories
Buying loose produce may require you to visit an independent grocery shop along with a large supermarket which may take you additional time.
However, this is also a benefit of green consumerism as you may end up supporting smaller, independent stores rather than large chains.
2: Upfront Cost
Cost is probably the biggest hurdle but steps are being taken to make it easier for consumers. For example, a reusable coffee mug may cost $10 but many big stores like Starbucks and Pret a Manger will give you up to $0.50 off the cost of the coffee for using one.
You may initially spend more but you will recoup that through time and save the environment from single use cups in the process which are one of the biggest forms of plastic pollution. Reusable water bottles too can be $10-15 but one can last you a lifetime instead of buying a plastic one for $1.50 a time each day or each week.
Initially it seems more and this is what puts people off, the cost however usually results in a better quality item which is one of the most unexpected and overlooked benefits of green consumerism.
Hopefully more people do start to appreciate the benefits of green consumerism and start making changes in their own life.
For most people it is best not to do everything at once, just make small changes every week or every month and see how easy it is. Green consumerism is one of the best things you can do to improve the health of our planet.
It is actually very easy to do and you may end up having a lot of fun by trying new things and reducing the amount of waste you produce.