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What does “shopping with a purpose” mean to you? Conscious consumers are often stereotyped as having strange shopping habits or even being cheap, when in reality a conscious consumer:
- Makes deliberate and informed choices rather than mindlessly buying items they think that they need.
- Demands transparency from companies and is not afraid to pass on items that are not aligned with their values.
- Knows that they have purchasing power and aspires to improve the world with their dollars.
The tips below provide a few ways to set an example for your kids about what it means to be a more conscious consumer.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
As parents, when we’re down to the wire it can be difficult to practice intentional buying. As you prepare for back to school time and extracurricular activities, be sure to map out all of your upcoming tasks in order to start the year off on the right foot. For example, if your child is playing an after-school sport this year, always double-check that they have all of the required equipment well in advance.
This will give you enough time to be able to find the gear they need for the first practice through a family member, friend, garage sale, or even a secondhand shop. If you wait to find out once practice begins, you’ll be forced to buy everything new. When you give yourself a time buffer, you get to decide whether or not you have to buy something and only when you’ve exhausted all other options.
As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to shop till we drop. Between school supplies, new clothes and sneakers, and items for extracurriculars, it can be easy to fill our homes with items we may not need. We may even feel proud of the items we scored for amazing deals, even if the purchases were unnecessary. Consider these friendly reminders as you shop:
The Rs of sustainability:
Recycle, Rethink, Refuse, Reuse, Repair and Reduce. The power behind these ideas often easily gets lost. Before you purchase a new item, look to the Rs of sustainability. Do you actually need this item? Is this item something that you can get multiple uses out of? Can you purchase this item secondhand? Is this something that you can borrow or rent?
As you shop, keep in mind that you do not always have to buy new. You can easily get the same items on your list by shopping secondhand. Not only will this save you money, but it will also extend the lifespan of the items, preventing them from ending up in landfills. You can also utilize online secondhand resources like thredUP. This will allow you to shop for clothing for both you and your children from reliable brands like Old Navy, without having to worry about the quality of the clothes you might find at a regular thrift store.
The cheapest price is not always the fair price:
How great of a feeling is it to find an item you love for a low price? Keep in mind that when a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. When an item is available for the cheapest possible price, the workers who made your item may not have been paid fair living wages or they toil in unhealthy conditions. Other environmental factors may have been put at risk as well such as waste disposal, water pollution, and more. When you truly need something, consider spending more money on an ethical, sustainable option that’s designed to last.
Low price tags often result in disposable items. Rather than grabbing the item for the cheapest price, ask yourself how many times you expect to use the item? What is the item’s cost per use? If you’re buying a dress for a special occasion, consider splurging on a dress that you can wear on multiple occasions rather than buying the cheaper option you’ll only wear one time. Adopt the cost-per-use strategy to remain an ethical and eco-friendly shopper.
3. Support conscious businesses
When you do have to make a purchase, consider the values that matter most to you, then support your values with your dollars. Whether it’s the materials the packaging is made from, companies that give back, or supporting local or small businesses, many businesses (like this one!) probably share your values.