Conscious Consumer Guide

Let’s talk about conscious consumers. Whilst we periodically vote during the elections, we also subconsciously cast a vote everyday. YES, you’re hearing that right. Every time we spend our coins, we’re making active choices about the companies we support and practises we endorse. In a world where corporations are powerful giants, putting our money where our mission is has never been more important. 

BUT, it’s often very difficult to know where our money is going because organisations and their operations can be murky. Amidst all the flaunted CSR endeavours and green washing, the truth get’s hidden and prevents us from confidently making informed choices. The data can’t be argued or avoided though. If we look at the manufacturing industry, it is the second biggest pollutant after oil. Data from Annie Leonard, a well known international environmentalist, shows that only 1% of the materials used to produce our goods are still consumed 6 months later. It’s sad but true that price and speed are triumphing quality and value. 

In a recent turn of events, however, more data being published and more studies being conducted into the truth of our purchasing habits has undoubtedly started building awareness. We’re beginning a new movement which is all about the ‘conscious consumer’. 

Conscious Consumer Guide: Annie Leonard reveals data about the manufacturing industry

What is a conscious consumer?
A conscious consumer is a person who looks beyond the labels and wants to know more about the company they’re purchasing from. Why is it important to know about the business? Well, when you purchase from a business, you are essentially funding them to continue doing what they’re doing. So, if you are a conscious consumer, you might want to stop and question if the practises of the business are in line with your values or not.

In essence, conscious consumerism is all about your buying practices being driven by a commitment to positive social, ethical and environmental impacts. A study conducted by YouGov and the Global Poverty Project revealed data proving that within the UK market there is potential for the majority of us to become conscious consumers. For example, 74% of those surveyed said they’d be willing to pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. We know 5% may not seem like much but if only 1% of the fashion industry’s profits were added to workers wages, 125 million people would be out of poverty. We’d say that’s pretty massive.

What is a socially conscious consumer?
A socially conscious consumer is one who first considers if consumption is necessary or not. Once they decide in favour of buying, they examine the social purpose of the brand providing the product. According to a global study conducted by Nielsen, a socially conscious consumer does not shy away from paying extra for socially-responsible goods and services. In fact, around 66% of the consumers surveyed from around the world said they're happy to buy slightly more expensive products and services if they’re coming from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society.

Conscious Consumer Guide - Nielsen Social Responsibility Report Statistics

Why do socially conscious consumers matter? Well, these types of buyers force brands to evaluate themselves and ensure they're thinking beyond just the bottom line. If a brand isn’t paying mind to the bigger picture of their impact on society then they run the risk of losing out on the coins from socially conscious consumers.

What is an environmentally conscious consumer?
An environmentally conscious consumer’s purchasing habits are centered around products and services which have undergone eco-friendly production processes. What is also very important to the environmentally conscious consumer is finding ways to advance our existing resources. This is why environmentally conscious consumers try to make sure the products or services they’re purchasing are recyclable, refillable or biodegradable without negatively impacting nature.

The concept of ‘Green consumerism’ has formed over time due to many economic, social and cultural forces. In fact, recent data shows that around 45% of UK shoppers are now actively interested in buying products that are better for the environment. This is a very good sign because when a consumer decides to be environmentally conscious, they are making a choice which is super beneficial and important for the future world.

What is an ethically conscious consumer?
An ethically conscious consumer purchases products and services which are ethically produced. This means that the production of the final product or service should minimise any social and/or environmental damage. Ethically conscious consumers also strongly avoid any products or services which have a definite negative impact on the society or environment.

Conscious Consumer Guide - UK's ethical consumer Market has increased a lot in 20 years


That being said, ethical consumption is a powerful tool for change and UK’s ethical consumer spending is reaching new highs. The Co-op’s
Ethical Consumerism Report 2018 shows that the total UK ethical consumer market - including food, drinks, clothing, energy and eco-travel – had swelled to over £41bn. To put the progress into perspective, in 1999 the total size of the market was only £11.2bn. Quite an impressive jump isn't it? It’s also evidence of the extent to which UK consumers’ purchasing habits are now reflecting our concerns about the environment, animal welfare, social justice and human rights.

Conscious Consumer Guide - It's time we start making ethical consumer choices

All in all, becoming a conscious consumer can make us feel very empowered. This is because we’re putting ourselves in the driver's seat of making decisions for which brands' ethos we want to support. Though fairly easy to say, in actuality, many people are unsure on how they can make their purchasing habits more conscious. Our series of blogs about conscious consumerism will help you understand how you can become the next conscious consumer and have your purchases matter.

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