Being a conscious consumer at University
What does being a conscious consumer even mean? Well, it means looking at the bigger picture behind what you buy. For example, rather than seeing a leather jacket as a cute addition to your outfit, thinking about the animal that fabric has come from. Or not just thinking, oh lovely cheap price tag but considering why it is able to be that price, at what cost? In general, it is the process of thinking before you buy and knowing the story of the product.
Before I came to University I hadn’t really considered these things. I would just buy stuff and not think about the background, because I didn’t even know it was a thing. What is it about University that opens so many of our eyes to it? Is it the new people in our lives, the higher education, the self-sufficiency? For me it was definitely a combination of all three.
It started with living with people who had values that were new to me, no one in my life had been vegan before. Suddenly the idea of not consuming animal products was normalised. Combine this with a better awareness of animal exploitation, the environment and sustainability and it really gets you thinking about what you can do to help. The final tipping point I believe is living independently and making all your own buying decisions. When living at home its often the case that dinner is made for all that live there and you eat what is lovingly prepared for you. However, when given free reign over what to make for dinner you are forced to make a conscious decision to buy, cook and eat these products. Slowly I found myself less willing to do this. Beyond this, the thought process spread to not only what I ate but what I wore and products I used.
If you are like me and interested in conscious consumption here are some changes you can make in your life. Remember you don’t have to do all these things, it is truly the case that every little helps.
1. Becoming a Vegetarian. This is a great thing to do and is super easy trust me! I stopped eating meat 2 years ago and have never looked back. You could even consider going Vegan, but a gradual transition is hugely recommended.
2. Going cruelty-free. This refers to both fashion and beauty, only wearing clothes and using products that involve no cruelty to animals.
3. Buying second-hand. Why by new clothes when there is so much great stuff already out there. Or rework that old garment into something new.
4. Using sustainable alternatives. Ditching reusable coffee cups and plastic bottles, buying bags and straws for life, investing in bamboo face pads the possibilities are endless.