26 Feb How to Be a Better Consumer
It’s not easy to be a consumer today. Things are often overpriced, over-packaged, full of chemicals and harmful to the environment. Many companies take shortcuts to produce products more cheaply, make them last longer, or change other aspects of color, scent or flavor – and many of these shortcuts are harmful to our bodies and surroundings. If the consumer truly decides market trends, then it’s up to us to vote with our money and make better decisions.
How can I be a better consumer?
AT THE STORE:
1. READ LABELS
What’s in your food? Your health and beauty products? Your cleaning products? If you don’t read the labels you’ll never know. The first step is to be informed. Don’t know how to pronounce several of the ingredients? It’s probably not something you want to be breathing, putting on your skin or in your mouth. The simpler the ingredients, the healthier it is for you and your environment. Easy as that.
2. BE AWARE OF CHEMICALS!
What should our food consist of? In my opinion, things that grown or exist naturally on the planet. That means, for me, nothing made in a laboratory – no GMOs, artificial colors/flavors or petroleum-based chemicals. Many of these things are hidden or simply not stated on labels. For that reason, I look for products that clearly say these things haven’t been used.
Ever heard the old adage: “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”? Our skin is an organism that absorbs the things put on it through our pores, in a sense, “eating” those things. Same goes for breathing in chemicals used in cleaning. Why not save a few bucks and make your own simple, cheap and natural products? For cleaning, my go to items include: baking soda and white vinegar. For beauty: coconut, almond or olive oil, shea butter, beeswax, essential oils, and natural soaps. If DIY isn’t for you, opt for the natural options in the store.
3. CHOOSE BIODEGRADABLE AND RECYCLED PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING
Packaging has gotten out of hand. Everything is bound in layers plastic and Styrofoam. Making a conscious decision to bring reusable containers to pick up to-go food, and purchase goods that aren’t swaddled in plastic does a lot of good for the planet while also sending the message to companies the reduce packaging and switch to more environmentally friendly options. Recycled plastic and paper options are available, and better when you have to take something pre-packaged. Look for recycled options for paper products, especially toilet paper which often comes from virgin trees. Biodegradable packaging makes a difference in the long-term breakdown of whatever trash you do create or cleaning products you use.
4. BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
This seems obvious, but the trick is to remember. For me that means keeping reusable bags in my car or hanging in my kitchen where my grocery list usually sits to remind me.
1. USE ENERGY SAVING LIGHT BULBS
We all use lights at night. Using bulbs that reduce the amount of energy used is a great way to be a more conscious consumer. Not only will it make your electricity bill less expensive, it’ll be less taxing for your environment as well. Now energy-saving light bulbs come in soft yellow as well as bright white.
2. UNPLUG APPLIANCES AND TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN THEY’RE NOT IN USE
Many appliances continue to use electricity even when not being used. By unplugging them completely, these vampire appliances can’t suck any additional energy from the socket. Yeah, and turning off lights? Well, that’s just common sense.
3. TURN DOWN THE HOT WATER HEATER WHEN YOU’RE NOT USING IT
Leaving the hot water heater running full-throttle all the time uses electricity or natural gas (depending on your setup) to keep the water at a certain temperature. With just a little bit of foresight, you can leave it low and turn it up 15-20 minutes before you’d like to bathe or do dishes.
Organic trash, like fruit rinds and vegetable pieces, don’t belong in landfills. Small scale composting is easy. First of all, think of your compost as vegetarian, and your workers bees as worms. On average, 30% of what’s wasted could be composted, so save fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells (provided they’re rinsed and crushed), rice and pasta, grass clippings, and flowers and dried leaves. Keep it warm, let it breathe and use water to help the compost process.