Visit the website of any Fair Trade, eco-friendly, or otherwise sustainability-oriented business, and you can find tons of information about how making ethical purchases helps struggling people and places around the world. It's much less common, however, to hear about how conscious consumerism also benefits those who actually make the purchases.
Discussions often revolve around how consumers are willing to pay more for ethical goods, boycott problematic brands, or even “give up” wasteful lifestyle habits like water bottle consumption and eating red meat in order to align their buying habits with their values. But what happens after that match is made? As it turns out, there's plenty of evidence that conscious consumerism offers benefits that would entice even the most self-interested consumers out there. So hedonists and altruists alike, hop aboard!––here are the ways that being a conscious consumer will make your life better:
Spend Less Money?!
Yep, you read that right; conscious consumerism can actually lead to a less expensive lifestyle. Apparently, the savings can get as high as $30,000. It's true that sustainably sourced goods can be, and often are, more expensive than conventionally sourced goods. However, the key here is that conscious consumerism done right means less consuming.
First, because ethically produced goods tend to be of higher quality, you won't need to replace worn out clothing items all the time. Additionally, as you pay closer to attention to how certain business practices impact the environment and global economy, you'll likely realize that conscious consumerism and frugal living are inherently linked; in order to reduce our carbon footprint, we not only have to be more careful about how things were produced, but also how much stuff we actually need. The dangers of too much consumption are very evident when looking at the fast fashion industry; if we weren't so eager to buy new clothing all the time, and to throw out old clothes so often, then cheap and irresponsibly produced clothing would be much less prevalent.
An added perk of spending less: you can donate more money during the holiday season to your favorite charities and humanitarian causes.
Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing
Studies suggest that conscious consumerism can also just straight up make you healthier and feel better about life. In one scholarly article on mindfulness and consumerism, UC-Davis emotional health researcher Erika L. Rosenberg writes that children become happier, healthier, and more empathic adults if they are encouraged to practice mindfulness, compassion, and connection––all of which can be practiced through conscious consumerism. A different study appearing in the Social Indicators Research Journal found a positive relationship between higher social well-being and ecologically responsible behavior, which could be explained in part by mindfulness. Of course, there's also the simple fact that you can feel good about what you buy instead of trying to ignore the exploitation that went into producing the foods you eat or the clothes you wear. Life is simpler and happier when you don't have to ignore the unsavory consequences of your actions, no matter how common those actions are in society.
Food Tastes Better
Yeah, ethical products have higher quality, but apparently, even the name alone can make food products taste better. Or so says a neuroscience study by the University of Bonn (in Germany), which found that in a taste test between two otherwise identical pieces of chocolate, “the piece with the Fair Trade emblem received far superior taste evaluations.” Don't take my word for it, though. Go buy some Fair Trade chocolate to test it out yourself, or even better, go to our shop and see if Fairly Traded craft coffee tastes better, too. ;)
These are just a few of the more self-interested reasons to buy Fair Trade and support sustainability in general. One of the names of the game in sustainability is, of course, protecting the environment. And while for now that might not have a totally personal feel, it could very soon––even within our lifetimes. And while it's true that scientists don't know exactly what is to come as the environment becomes more imperiled, some of the current predictions out there don't leave me wanting to find out.
Keep looking for reasons that sustainability is a great choice, and I'm confident you'll find many not listed here. But the key is to remember that you shouldn't feel like you're losing out by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. In truth, sustainability and conscious consumerism can bring a lot of great benefits to you––so give it a try.