Our society is essentially consumerist: consumption is one of the fundamental engines of today’s economy and has a very important role in our lives, since we need to consume products and services in order to live.
However, the vast majority of consumption is very respectful of people and the environment. To change this reality, we need to acquire responsible consumption habits that focus not only on the quality / price ratio, but also on the other factors that affect a product.
What is responsible consumption in our daily life
The concept of “responsible consumption” refers to a type of consumption far from the typical “consumerism” in which the consumer is an active agent who seeks that the activities of the company that provides products or services have an ethical behavior both in the social and environmental plane . That is, it is not only consumed by attending to the properties of the product or following the dictates of marketing strategies, but also being aware and responsible regarding the impact that this product or service generates on the environment and on society in general.
To do this, we must analyze various aspects of the product or service: the first thing is to verify that the product is really necessary . Once this cut is passed, we must analyze the following 5 general lines:
For example, we can verify that the raw materials that make up the product have been produced / extracted according to respectful policies; that resources as close as possible have been used; that the distribution is fair and equitable for the sellers; that consumption requires the least possible impacts, and that these be minimized; and that all waste derived from the activity is managed in such a way that the environment is not damaged, reintegrating it into the production cycle whenever possible.
At the opposite pole to responsible consumption we would find irresponsible consumption . Ultimately and unfortunately, it is the type of consumption that prevails in today’s society, in which the consumer is guided by advertising campaigns, which can even create fictitious or created needs, rather than by the beneficial or harmful impact that the product or service may have. A good standardized tool for comparing products is LCA analysis or life cycle analysis .
As a variant we can find greenwashing , which is a set of marketing strategies that make a company look “green”, but without having a real respectful counterpart, which is why they are set up as a true scam to the conscientious consumer. Ultimately, these companies misuse green marketing . Here we tell you more about Greenwashing: what it is, how it works and examples .
Thus, as a summary, we can say that the difference between responsible consumption and non-responsible or irresponsible consumption is that they are directly opposite types of consumption.
Examples of responsible consumption
How can we exercise more responsible consumption? Although it is very difficult to find companies or products that comply 100% with all our expectations, here are some examples of responsible consumption and products that meet these criteria; You will see that they are useful examples that can be applied in a large number of situations.
- The first thing to do in any situation is to ask ourselves if what we are going to consume is really necessary . What benefit does it bring us? How will our life improve? In fact, in developed countries, we need much less things than we usually have. Do I need to renew my wardrobe every season? Probably not. Do I need to catch a plane for my vacation? I can look for equally attractive destinations accessible by public transport.
- We must also not forget the so-called ” planned obsolescence “, or advanced expiration date that manufacturers introduce to their products to increase demand. Furthermore, the programmed obsolescence of desire is a complex network of marketing that makes us want “the latest model”, as for example with fashion or technology. If you want to be a responsible consumer, we recommend you avoid these strategies.
- But, we need things. At some point we will have to consume. In this case, it is best to turn to small and local companies (better our lifelong grocer in the neighborhood than any large commercial area), and ensure that the products or services we buy are respectful with the environment and society. There are several web pages that indicate responsible and irresponsible companies, and we also have the so-called ecological and social responsibility stamps , which can help us in this task.
The benefits of responsible consumption are multiple. The social benefits include promoting gender equality and non – discrimination and respect for local markets, among others. Regarding the environmental benefits , we find:
- Reduction of extractive activities, which are not renewable and generate a great environmental impact. For example, the extraction of fossil fuels and the use of these has a great negative impact on the environment. In this other post you can learn more about the environmental impact of oil and natural gas .
- Improvement in the management of the territory. For example, reducing soil contamination , which we will talk about more here.
- Reduction in the use of hazardous substances and pollution.
- Reduction of the water footprint and the carbon footprint. In this other post we tell you how to reduce my carbon footprint .
- Reintegration of waste to the production cycle.
- Energy saving.
- Promotion of ecological products and values.