What is conscious consumption and how to make a difference?

Find out everything about this concept, its importance, and see tips on how to adopt it

Practicing conscious consumption is a daily, simple and supportive attitude that can generate a positive impact on life on the planet. This means, for example, avoiding waste, choosing products from environmentally responsible companies and saving energy and water.  

In this guide you will find everything about the concept of conscious consumption, its importance, its benefits for society and tips on how to adopt it in our daily lives.

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What is conscious consumption?

Conscious consumption is the practice of consuming with the aim of minimize environmental impact and social impact of individual choices, avoiding excess or waste. 

It is also the act of making positive choices when purchasing any type of item, whether durable or non-durable. An example of this is buying products that are not tested on animals. 

And many people are adopting the practice of conscious consumption, which is becoming a consolidating trend, as pointed out by one search of the National Confederation of Industry held in January 2023. 

Among the Brazilians interviewed in the survey, 74% say they adopt sustainable habits and conscious consumption, such as separating waste for recycling and choosing responsible companies. 

What is the objective of conscious consumption?

The main objective is to promote a more sustainable lifestyle, balancing your individual needs with the preservation of natural resources and their impacts. 

Therefore, when adopting conscious consumption, it is important to make decisions based on information and responsibly in relation to products. To do this, it is necessary to evaluate social, economic and environmental issues. 

Finally, another objective of conscious consumption is to reduce waste, choosing durable and quality products, rather than low quality and durability. Furthermore, it will promote reuse, recycling and circular economy

How important is conscious consumption?

qual a importância do consumo consciente para o meio ambiente?

The importance of conscious consumption lies in the fact that this attitude can contribute to reversing climate change and other impacts caused by climate change. global warming

This way of consuming is linked not only to shopping but also to the way we move around cities, how we use water, whether we separate and recycle waste and whether we combat food waste.

Decrease the carbon footprint, buy second-hand, participate in shared economy, recycling and consuming local products are cheap, simple and accessible forms of conscious consumption. 

In this sense, conscious consumption is extremely important as it causes positive social, environmental, cultural and economic changes for the planet. 

Consumers are giving more importance to conscious consumption

Consumers around the world are increasingly aware of the importance of their consumption choices. According to one research highlighted by Valor Econômico, 90% of people believe that conscious and sustainable consumption can really make a difference. 

Other study by Nielsen points out that Brazilians are adopting more sustainable habits, reflecting a global trend towards greater responsibility and awareness in consumption habits.

What is the relationship between sustainability and conscious consumption?

Sustainability concerns the ability to sustain or conserve an economic, social, cultural and/or environmental process or system. 

The term sustainability appeared in the report Our Common Future, 1987, from the World Commission on Environment and Development. 

In it, the concept of sustainable development appears for the first time, which consists of meeting present needs without compromising future generations. 

Conscious consumption concerns consuming with less and better environmental impact, without excess or waste, taking into account the context of production, use and disposal. 

Therefore, the relationship between sustainability and conscious consumption is causal, as the practice of conscious consumption is a consequence of sustainable development.

Benefits of conscious consumption for society

benefícios do consumismo consciente e responsável

Let's detail some benefits of consumption with a focus on sustainability. 

Reduced environmental impact

Conscious consumption plays a crucial role in minimizing environmental impact. 

By opting for sustainable products and responsible consumption practices, society can reduce pollution, the rampant extraction of natural resources and the degradation of ecosystems. 

This includes choosing products with recyclable packaging, support companies that adopt green practices and reduce waste through reuse and recycling.

Stimulating the local economy

Consuming consciously can also strengthen the local economy. 

Preferring to buy products and services from local businesses helps keep money within the community, fosters local employment and reduces dependence on global supply chains, which often have a significant carbon footprint. 

Additionally, local businesses tend to have a better understanding of sustainable practices that directly benefit their own community.

Promoting social justice

This type of consumption is directly linked to the promotion of social justice. By choosing products from companies that guarantee fair working conditions, decent wages and do not exploit child labor, consumers have a powerful social impact. 

This encourages more companies to adopt ethical and transparent practices in their operations, in order to contribute to a more equitable society.

Improving public health

Conscious consumption choices also lead to significant improvements in public health. Choosing organic foods, toxin-free products and services that respect the environment is a good strategy to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. 

This factor is especially important in urban communities, where air quality and pollution can be directly affected by industrial and consumer practices.

Why should companies encourage conscious consumption?

Companies must encourage this because the planet is experiencing a global environmental crisis that has already brought irreversible consequences to the environment. 

A portion of Brazilians are already concerned about the product they consume and the effects of this production on the environment, such as carbon emissions and waste generation.  

For 53% of survey respondents Sustainable Habits and Conscious Consumption, from the National Confederation of Industry, it has become a habit to check whether the product was produced in an environmentally sustainable way whenever they make a purchase. 

Scenario of conscious consumption in Brazil

In Brazil, conscious consumption is gaining momentum as more consumers begin to recognize the importance of their purchasing choices for the environment and society.

The country's environmental situation, which includes challenges such as deforestation, drought and floods, highlights the urgent need for more sustainable consumption practices. After all, people have understood how these issues are connected. 

Although a large number of Brazilians have not yet fully adopted conscious consumption practices, there is a growing recognition of how these choices can positively impact the planet. 

In this sense, consumers are increasingly informed about how their choices affect sustainability, whether through reducing the use of plastics, choosing products with a lower environmental impact or supporting companies that adopt sustainable production practices.

Conscious consumption in the world

Globally, conscious consumption is also on the rise. In many countries, consumers and companies are adopting business models that prioritize sustainability and ethics. 

Adopting practices such as recycling, using sustainable materials and supporting ethical business practices is becoming more common.

In the global context, conscious consumption is seen as an essential tool for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with a special focus on promoting responsible consumption and production.

Examples of conscious consumption

To better illustrate, let's give some examples of what it would be like to consume consciously on a daily basis. 

Buying local and organic products

Choosing local and organic products is an effective way to practice conscious consumption. By choosing locally grown foods, you reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation and support the local economy. 

Additionally, organic produce is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which is better for your health and the environment.

Use of reusable products

Replacing disposable items with reusable options is another good example. Items such as shopping bags, water bottles, straws and reusable kitchen utensils help reduce the amount of waste generated and mitigate the demand for natural resources. 

This practice not only conserves resources, but also reduces pollution caused by the production and disposal of disposable products.

Composting

Composting organic waste generates a natural fertilizer, enriching the soil without the need for chemicals and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Conscious consumption tips

usar sacola reciclável uma dica para ter um consumo consciente e responsável

Here are some tips for you to adopt and contribute to this issue.

Prioritize products with sustainable packaging

Choose products that use recyclable, biodegradable or reusable packaging. Checking whether a product's packaging is made from recycled material or is designed for less environmental impact can make a big difference.

Choose sustainable fashion

Avoid fast fashion, which encourages excessive consumption and often uses production practices that are harmful to the environment and workers. 

Choose clothes from brands that adopt sustainable practices or buy from thrift stores. This not only reduces environmental impact but also supports a more ethical and durable fashion system.

Educate yourself and spread awareness about conscious consumption

Informing yourself about sustainability and conscious consumption issues is essential. Sharing this knowledge with friends and family amplifies the impact of your actions. 

Taking part in workshops, following sustainability platforms and engaging in local communities are also great ways to stay informed and active.

Adopting these conscious consumption practices not only helps preserve natural resources, but also promotes a fairer and more sustainable society. 

By making more conscious choices, each individual contributes to a broader positive impact.

Conscious energy consumption

  • Use and abuse natural light in your home, office and business. Avoid turning on lights unnecessarily and turn off lights when leaving a room; 
  • Keep windows open for natural ventilation, whenever possible, to avoid using air conditioning; 
  • Unplug electronic devices when they are not in use; 
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator unnecessarily, as the hot air makes the refrigerator motor work harder to cool it down again, using more energy; 
  • Swap fluorescent lamps for LED lamps, which have a longer lifespan and are more efficient. 

Conscious water consumption

  • Reduce the time in the shower and close the shower whenever you apply shampoo and conditioner;
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth; 
  • Fix water leaks at home; 
  • Reuse washing machine water for other household tasks; 
  • Wash dishes only with as much water as necessary. First wash all items and then rinse them, avoiding leaving the tap open.

Frequently asked questions about conscious consumption

In this topic, we will quickly answer common questions about this topic. 

What is the difference between sustainable development and conscious consumption?

Sustainable development It is a broad concept that involves promoting economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection for future generations. Conscious consumption, on the other hand, focuses specifically on individual choices to purchase and use resources in ways that minimize environmental impact and promote social equity.

What is the difference between consumerism and conscious consumption?

Consumerism refers to the excessive and uncontrolled purchase of products, often motivated by impulses and external influences, without considering real needs or environmental impacts. Conscious consumption is the opposite, as it involves making choices about purchasing and using resources deliberately, considering sustainability and social impact.

What is conscious consumption day?

Conscious Consumption Day is celebrated on October 15th. This day is aimed at promoting awareness about the impacts of consumer choices and encouraging more sustainable practices among consumers and businesses.

Conclusion

Conscious consumption is essential for building a sustainable future, in which consumption and production practices respect the limits of our planet and promote social equity. 

By making more responsible choices, individuals help minimize environmental impact, support the local economy and promote fair labor practices. Furthermore, conscious consumption makes it possible to cultivate a healthier and more balanced relationship with the goods and services we use daily. 

By adopting these practices, each person contributes to a world in which sustainable development goes beyond being just an objective and becomes a tangible reality. Encouraging and educating others about the importance of conscious consumption is fundamental to expanding this positive impact, to ensure a lasting legacy for future generations.

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