Finding ways to be a conscientious consumer in today’s busy world doesn’t have to be a challenge. Where and how you choose to spend your money can make a big difference, so I recently spoke with Carmin Black, an industry insider, to get her suggestions for simple yet effective ways women can make a difference as they shop. If you haven’t heard of Carmin and her hunger-ending mission yet, don't worry, you will, and soon... she's the founder of HALF United, which encourages conscientious consumerism while still providing the innovative clothing and accessories we fashionistas want. Ready to take action? Check out the following seven ways to be a conscientious consumer.
1. Seek Out Companies That Give Back
By far one of the easiest ways to be a conscientious consumer is to support companies that have a strong focus on giving back. Carmin’s company donates half of its proceeds to fighting world hunger (hence the name HALF United), while also providing high-quality, handmade items. Another example is TOMS, a company that encourages conscientious consumption by donating one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. Buying your goods from a company that gives back, whether by donating proceeds, participating in charitable events or supporting fair trade, allows you to help others while purchasing products you want and need.
2. Support Smaller Organizations
While large, well-known organizations like United Way and Heifer International are excellent charities to support, you can help make a big impact by supporting companies that donate to smaller organizations, too. When launching her own company, Carmin worked to find trustworthy smaller organizations both locally and globally that would help the company achieve its goal of fighting world hunger. Follow her lead, and remember that smaller organizations have the power to make a huge difference, especially since these charities might have much smaller operational costs than their larger counterparts.
3. Shop Locally
When you support local farmers and businesses, you’re also reducing your carbon footprint and helping the environment. This is definitely a win-win all around, and it’s easy to see why shopping locally is another one of Carmin’s top tips. Purchasing groceries at a local farmers’ market is always a great idea, as is patronizing restaurants that are committed to supporting local sellers. Scope out options in your own area to effortlessly make a difference!
4. Buy Organic Items
Just as Carmin recommends shopping locally, she also supports the idea of purchasing organic items. Not only is organic food better for the environment, but it can also be healthier for your body, too. Farmers’ markets are an excellent place to start when scoping out organic items, as are local or chain grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market. Of course, food isn’t the only organic option out there, and everything from clothing to beauty and cleaning products are also available. More variety helps give you plenty of items to choose from when making conscientious decisions.
5. Waste Less
In my own ongoing effort to be a more conscientious consumer, reducing waste is definitely a major goal. Hoping to do the same yourself? Recycling and composting are both simple yet effective ways to reduce waste, as are bringing along a set of reusable tote bags each time you shop and looking for products that feature less packaging.
6. Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
Carmin loves putting the power of change directly into the hands of the consumer and helping people look at products in a different way. Want to help others do the same? The next time someone compliments you on an accessory, piece of clothing or any other type of product you purchased from a company that gives back, be sure to let them know how they too can make a difference. Wear your heart on your sleeve (literally!), and be constantly reminded about the importance of helping others.
7. Purchase Fair Trade Products
Last but certainly not least, Carmin believes that purchasing fair trade products is an excellent way to promote others’ well-being while you shop. Buying fair trade items helps ensure that the farmers and workers who produce your goods are compensated and treated fairly throughout the process. Look for the Fair Trade Certified label on products, and visit the Fair Trade Federation’s website for additional information. One of my favorite fair trade retailers is Aveda, a company with a mission to connect beauty, environment and well-being, which is exactly in line with being a conscientious consumer!
Thank you, Carmin, for taking the time to share your thoughts and suggestions! You can learn more about Carmin and her company at HALF United's website. What other companies and organizations do you know of that help you be a more conscientious consumer? What other ways to be a conscientious consumer are helping you make a difference?