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Is Conscious Consumption your New Year’s Resolution? - Here are 5 tips to get you started

Updated: Sep 22

You’ve done the easy bit and made a New Year’s Resolution to be a more conscious consumer. Now for the hard bit - how do you find small, ecologically minded and ethical brands?

As we take our first steps into the New Year, many of us have made resolutions, for some it is to do more exercise, for others perhaps, trying to be a more conscious consumer? While the majority of New Year's resolutions are related to our individual health and priorities, each year the number of us making environmental resolutions increases, but it can be a bit daunting trying to find brands to buy from which fit your new conscious consumption ideals.

When you’re researching greener alternatives remember, don’t go overboard. It is rare that replacing something that is working before its time has come is the greenest choice. Additionally, not buying anything is the greenest possible option.

Here are a few tips to help you determine the difference between green and greenwashing when researching eco-friendly products and businesses.

1) Do I need it? The most eco-friendly form of consumerism is using what you already have.

2) Check the label for certification of the items green claims, and those of the business. Many companies jumping on the green bandwagon make bogus claims without evidence, or have an ‘eco-range’ amongst a plethora of high impact and environmentally damaging products.

3) Consider the environmental impact and lifecycle of the product. How many resources were used to make it, how long will it last, and what will happen to it after it is no longer usable?

4) Think about the product's carbon footprint. How much CO2 is produced when the product is made and how far does it need to travel before it reaches you? Will it release significant amounts of carbon dioxide at its end of life?

5) Consider what materials are used to make the product. Some are more environmentally friendly than others, for example, fast growing woods like bamboo have excellent properties across a range of products. Reclaimed and recycled materials often require significantly less energy to be produced than their virgin counterparts, and depending on how they are sourced, may as a secondary benefit clean an area or stop something ending in landfill or the ocean.

So let’s use an example. Say I accidentally drop my glasses into the ocean while peering over the edge of a boat at a particularly spectacular turtle. I apply the tips and ask myself, do I need new glasses? Well yes, I do, they’re essential to me and I can’t do without them. So I begin looking for new glasses. I know that I don’t want to buy from a large chain with little regard for the environment, so I use search terms like “eco-friendly glasses”, “glasses made from recycled materials”, “carbon neutral eyewear brands” etc, to ensure that I’ll find a brand which matches my requirements and ideals. Bingo I get a few hits.

The first one I click looks good, the business is called Re:View Eyewear, and is described as a sustainable eyewear specialist. As I scroll through the pages of the site, I see that their aim is to provide sustainable eyewear at affordable prices. They’re Carbon neutral, and their frames are made from sustainable materials including recycled metals, recycled plastic bottles, salvaged fishing nets, and biomaterials such as bamboo. Additionally, they plant a tree for every pair of glasses sold.

The verdict? Re:View Eyewear meets and exceeds the criteria for conscious consumption, and I buy my new glasses through their site

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