Starting to shop responsibly is not about acquiring tons of “sustainable” stuff and throwing away everything from your “unsustainable” life. Mostly it is about ditching mainstream consumer habits and choosing wisely. Sometimes, it means not buying at all.
Buying things because they are cheap
Sounds rightful, doesn’t it? I was doing it all the time since I had my own income. It is so cheap that it cannot be wrong – that is the justification.
Companies use campaigns to get rid of items that otherwise are hard to sell. For the next season, they come back with new special offers to sell new ones which are totally the same garbage.
It takes so many resources to make a new garment: tons of water, electricity, chemicals, cotton sources, human labor, packaging, transportation and distribution that leaves a considerable amount of carbon footprint behind. To make it even worse, our “cheap” clothing, which we barely wear more than twice, ends up on landfills, taking ages to degrade.
The only case buying on sale is justified is when you really need something and find it on discount. That is a win-win!
Buying without knowing the whole story
Companies want us to buy the story they are selling, but sometimes the background behind sugar-coated marketing is not that pleasing.
Making a nice bar of chocolate requires a lot of resources, including cacao beans and human labor. Nestle, the world’s largest food company, is accused of perpetuating child slavery at Ivory Coast cocoa farms. Another tremendously popular chocolate company, Ferrero is accused of child slavery on cocoa farms as well. I mean, Kit-Kat and Nutella taste just fine, but at the expense of child labor, buying them becomes totally unacceptable.
I think you’ve heard about that mind-boggling violation of safety standards led to the collapse of the garment factory in 2013 in Bangladesh, leaving behind 1 134 people dead and 2 500 injured. This factory supplied garments to western brands, like Mango, Primark, Walmart and others. After 6 years from the disaster, fashion companies continue to pressure Bangladeshi suppliers to keep prices low and make clothing faster. Brands did not compensate factories for safety improvements as well.
It is up to you who you give your money, who you make rich and happy.
Do some research before you go and buy something to make sure that you support brands who have values that matter. Obviously, you cannot conduct a full-scale investigation before every purchase, but checking more than one source on the internet still matters a lot.
Not thinking about the waste while shopping
This is the tip I learned recently and it is very helpful: when you shop, think about the waste. There is so much to consider while shopping, such as price, expiration dates, ingredients, etc. Consider the amount of garbage which will be left after shopping as well.
Like, you’re buying yogurt at the market. Look at what does the packaging look like. How many parts does it have? Is it clear for you how to separate and dispose of the packaging? Is there more minimalist packaged option available? Or maybe there is other option with recyclable packaging?
Planning your garbage while shopping helps you to manage your leftovers better, shop more responsibly and be kinder to the environment.
Expecting wonders from the self-care products
Been there, done this. Constantly shopping and testing too much skincare and other self-care products hoping to find something that will transform your skin – that’s nonsense.
Usually, I use up to 8 products during my self-care routine. Then I tried using only 4 products at a time for a week. Do you know what changed? Noting at all. I look the same.
This is my incomplete skincare collection (some of the items didn’t fit in this lovely box). Most of them are not sustainable products at all, but I continue using them. I haven’t bought any new skincare for 5 months and I will not buy until I use every last drop of creams I already have.
Side note: buying unsustainable products can be somehow justified if you do not waste them. So I’ll feel better about myself if I use all the products I bought irresponsibly and buy new ones after I empty every one of them.
If you need medical treatment, go check the dermatologist. It took a couple of years to realize that I don’t have to use at least 10 different serums because I have to fulfill a 15-step Korean skincare routine. My pores did not disappear, my wrinkles did not get filled magically.
Just make sure you clean your face, exfoliate time to time, moisturize well, get a good sleep and do not forget the sunscreen.