Conscious consumption: one of the most important trends in figures and practical tips

We hear about conscious consumption every day, and it has become evident that it is a sustainable trend worldwide in recent years. Even in times of war, Ukraine is not lagging behind: citizens sort their garbage, visit flea markets, and prefer ecological materials.

The era of overproduction

The 20th century brought breakthroughs in medicine, technology, and production to humanity. And as a result, we now live in an era of overproduction and overconsumption, depletion of natural resources, and the filling of the planet with waste.

Marketing tricks encourage us to buy more and more, dispose of things easily, and compromise quality for quantity. The era of "fast fashion" - where minimal time is spent on producing goods - has led to a shorter lifespan for these items and an over-saturation of consumer goods on the market. What drives us to buy more and more? The fleeting nature of trends, the promotion of vanity and hedonism, and simply being addicted to the quick dopamine rush of shopping - it doesn't sound so bad. But what are the consequences?

A few consequences

According to the UN, one-third of all produced food ends up in landfills. An average person in Europe uses 250 liters of water, while more than 40% of the world's population suffers from a lack of drinking water. Non-renewable resources such as coal, gas, and oil are used to produce electricity, and power plants pollute the air.

Clothing takes about 200 years to decompose, releasing methane and polluting the soil and groundwater. Waste decomposition releases carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming. The industrial sector accounts for 10% of the carbon footprint, and this figure is expected to double by 2030. Moreover, poor ecology affects the deterioration of public health and can contribute to the development of cancer, allergies, and cardiovascular diseases.

A few numbers: the garbage trend in Ukraine and the world

Overconsumption leads to millions of tons of waste every day that end up in landfills and oceans around the world. The waste decomposes and releases toxic substances into the soil, and burning it produces smoke that is dangerous for all living beings. In Hong Kong, it has been calculated that every minute people around the world throw away almost 1,500 T-shirts, each of which required nearly 3,000 liters of water to produce (according to the Institute of Water). This is equivalent to three years' worth of water for an adult. These numbers are staggering, aren't they?

On average, a European citizen throws away 33 kg of food products per year. Every year, 250 cubic kilometers of water are used to produce products that will end up in landfills. 80% of these are goods that were manufactured less than six months ago.

Traditionally, Canada (36 tons of waste per person per year) and the United States (26 tons) are leaders in waste production per capita, with Bulgaria (26 tons, according to the American publication USA Today) recently joining them. Ukraine is among the bottom ten countries with a rate of around 10 tons. Ukraine produces around 500 million tons of waste annually, 80% of which is classified as hazardous. However, while Canada recycles more than 20% of its waste, Ukraine recycles less than 5%.

Conscious consumption: some practical tips

Of course, the numbers sound quite alarming. But each of us can improve the situation by making a small contribution to the overall cause of conscious consumption every day.

Do you think that conscious consumption requires excessive spending? We would be happy to argue with you: according to statistics, transitioning from consumerism usually saves up to 40% of your budget! Interested? So let's figure out what exactly we can do today for the sake of our bright "tomorrow."

Conscious consumption is a concept of intelligent consumption of resources and products that promotes satisfying needs without creating a negative impact on the environment. It is based on the 4R principle:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

What can we do right now?

  • Buy only what we really need - refuse disposable goods, plastic bags and cups, plastic discount cards (everything can be digitized), unnecessary plastic packaging. Use a smart approach to shopping: do I really need this item? If you need the item for a short time, it's better to borrow or rent it. When making a purchase, think about how many hours of work this item costs you?
  • Plan purchases in advance. Scientists have long proven that spontaneous shopping leads us to buy things we may not need at all. Shopping for groceries when full, and for items in a good mood - this significantly reduces the chance of unplanned purchases.
  • Review the shopping strategy "just in case" that was inspired by the harsh times of war. You should ask yourself the question: "Do I really need so much? Will I be able to use it all before it expires?".
  • Support local manufacturers and sellers. Researchers from the USA have concluded that people usually don't buy anything extra in stores near their homes - so they save money and produce less waste.
  • Give preference to higher quality items that will last longer. Remember that "penny-wise and pound-foolish" saying? Visit vintage shops and flea markets. In interior design, vintage furniture and decor items have become a sustainable trend and have already proven themselves as a tribute to aesthetics and conscious consumption.
  • Share! It's a great reason to improve relationships with friends and neighbors by exchanging things with each other. The wonderful Western tradition of holding garage sales is gradually coming to us, along with the trend of vintage items with history. In Ukraine, there are several excellent online platforms where you can sell, give away, or exchange used items. Also, don't forget about charity - someone may need things that have lost their relevance for you.
  • Make it a challenge to yourself! Challenges like "The 'no-buy' movement" are becoming popular on the Internet. Its essence is to set a deadline for yourself during which you will not buy new things and stick to it. You can start with something smaller - the good international initiative of Buy Nothing Day, which is held annually on the last Friday of November to draw attention to overconsumption. You can support the initiative by starting with one day or challenge yourself to one month - it seems quite doable and you don't have to put it off until tomorrow!
  • Sort your trash and recycle it. Sorting not only helps in further processing but also encourages us to be more responsible about what we throw away. Sorting trash allows specialized companies to compost and recycle waste, giving it a second life. There are now many services that make sorting trash much easier.
  • When planning repairs or interior purchases, give preference to eco-friendly materials and natural textures. They will not only serve you much longer, but also leave a much smaller carbon footprint during production. Furniture and decor made of natural wood is a modern and environmentally conscious choice for a conscious consumer.
  • Make your home energy efficient. Insulated windows, doors, and walls, energy-efficient appliances and lamps, sensor switches and faucets, solar panels - all of this allows you to significantly save on utilities.
  • Save resources. Turn off unnecessary lights and devices, close faucets when brushing your teeth, use electrical appliances for washing only when full and on eco-modes (usually the 30-degree washing mode).
  • Take part in social initiatives. Plant trees, clean up garbage, help spread information about conscious consumption - remember that eco-lifestyle is a trend!
  • Pay attention to labels. Support eco-product manufacturers who care about the environmental friendliness of packaging, do not test products on animals, and properly dispose of waste. Read the labeling: for example, the Fair Trade label means that no child labor was used during production, and that male and female employees receive equal pay, while Cruelty-Free excludes animal testing and the presence of animal-derived products. The PVC(3), O(7), and ABS labels indicate that the packaging is not recyclable. And yet, the best products are those that can be purchased without packaging. Don't forget to take a bag when going to the store today!

YourFoRest company has been following the principles of ecological production for 7 years. All products are made from Ukrainian wood using eco-friendly lacquers and paints that comply with European environmental standards. We minimize the use of plastic in packaging and transportation, giving preference to recycled materials and reusable packaging. The high quality of our products ensures a long lifespan, which becomes a part of conscious consumption for our customers. Every year, YourFoRest company plants young trees in parks and squares of Kyiv, taking part in the restoration of natural resources of the planet.

Author: Olena Belenka