Conscious Consumerism for FamiliesOct 30, 2023
For many families, this time of year brings with it the buzz and excitement of the impending holiday season. With dozens of holidays observed by people of all nationalities and backgrounds in the months of November and December, nearly everyone has one or more celebration to look forward to. Children tend to love holidays because of the anticipatory emotions, special meals, and togetherness that come with them – as well as, for many, the tradition of gift giving and receiving.
Gift giving and receiving can be a significant part of our customs, and one that brings joy to our family and friends. However, in our fast-paced, marketing- and consumer-driven world, the temptation to over-buy can be hard to resist. This is especially true of buying products and from companies that may not be the most sustainable choices for our fragile planet.
For those who prioritize making sustainable choices, the conundrum of gift giving can feel like a challenge. For some, focusing on traditions other than gift giving may make the most sense. After all, there are so many ways to connect with loved ones that don’t involve gifts – cooking and sharing meals, playing games, making crafts, and simply spending time together, to name a few.
Still, as humans in our modern society, consumerism to some degree is a necessity for most. Fortunately, there are ways to practice conscious consumerism, whether for buying gifts or other essentials. Being a conscious consumer means being informed about purchases you make: knowing the ethics and choices of the company you are buying from, as well as how and where they get their products.
Why does conscious consumerism matter for children, who likely aren’t spending their own money on products? Because, as in many other cases, children learn from what they see. Modeling conscious consumerism helps ensure that future generations will also be conscientious about how and where they spend money. Additionally and importantly, practicing conscious consumerism supports the rebalance of our planet, which is urgently needed for the health and safety of our children.
How can you be a conscious consumer? Try:
Buying from local businesses is a great way to be a conscious consumer. Local businesses are ones that are not found on a national or international level, but rather are contained to the town, city, or regional area that you live in. Buying from local businesses means that you are cycling your money back into your own community, rather than into large corporations that don’t have your local community’s interests in mind. Plus, browsing brick and mortar shops rather than relying on online shopping can be a fun way to spend an afternoon!
Shopping at Ethical Companies
While it is exceedingly easy to buy from huge, wealthy corporations – most have automatic payment options that we can access from our phones – these companies usually do not have sustainable practices. Researching companies before you buy from them is key to ensure that their products are ethically procured, and that their business practices are morally sound and sustainable. Reading about how they obtain or make their products and researching how they treat their employees on company review websites are ways to understand if a company is ethical or not.
Often, shopping at local and ethical companies comes with products with higher price tags. To offset spending more as a conscious consumer, consider also building in practices to decrease your consumerism overall:
“Shop” Your Home Before Buying
In a world where we can so effortlessly get the specific thing that we “need” with the click of a button, it can be easy to forget that we often have comparable items already in our home. Whether you are in need of an item for a recipe or for your household, “shopping” your home before buying is a great way to decrease your overall consumerism. Making items in your household multifunctional is a sustainable practice, as it lessens the need for more materials to be procured and processed for new products.
Make Your Own Essentials and Gifts
Handmade household essentials and gifts are another meaningful way to decrease your reliance on consuming products. Did you know you can make your own deodorant with items like coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils? And everyone loves homemade baked goods or crafts for their holiday gift! Making your own items and gifts allows you a creative outlet in addition to being a great way to be a conscious consumer.
Our K-5 homeschool curriculum goes more in-depth into the importance of conscious consumerism and developing a mindset around sustainability and ecoliteracy.