Are you down with responsible consumption?

Winter temperatures are here, it’s dark by 5 p.m. and we’re working from home, but we can still count on loads of temptations to brighten our days and keep us entertained! With all the online shopping we’re doing during the pandemic, don’t be surprised if you know your credit card number by heart.

Updated January 12, 2021

And who could blame you for giving in to temptation when businesses are competing hard to grab your attention and get you to open your wallet? Everyone could use a little comfort from time to time. But you don’t necessarily have to spend money to get cozy and enjoy life’s little pleasures.

To help you curb impulse buying - This link will open in a new window., here are some tips to help you make smart choices.

What’s responsible consumption?

It’s when you factor sustainable development concerns into your purchasing patterns. It means consuming in a way that respects the environment and benefits the local economy. And it’s about considering the impact your choices have on health and society as a whole. Pretty easy, right? Need examples?

In short, responsible consumption means:

  • Shopping smarter by choosing products that meet the criteria listed above.
  • Consuming better by avoiding waste and overconsumption.
  • Not throwing things out and instead recycling, composting or donating.

During sale season, it’s easy to let low prices sweep you away on a wave of impulse buys. Hello, sherpa jackets in all colours of the rainbow! But it’s easier to make responsible choices when you look at the environmental, social and economic repercussions of each of your purchases.

We can’t talk about responsible consumption without bringing up its evil twin, overconsumption.

Do you really need it?

Maybe you’ve heard about overconsumption but aren’t really sure what it is. Here’s the deal: it’s about buying things you don’t really need. You could look at it as the difference between your wants and your needs. It’s like buying 8 pairs of shoes because they’re on sale when the whole province is on lockdown and you’re stuck at home 95% of the time. Simple as that!

And no, responsible consumption isn’t just for hippies and monks. It’s a lifestyle choice that will reduce your environmental footprint. And taking care of the environment is everyone’s business, not just Greta’s.* Consuming responsibly is also a great way to save up for your big goals, like living your best vanlife in Gaspésie. Nothing beats being in harmony with nature and your budget!

Let’s put things into perspective:

Say a $100 item is on sale for $65. It may feel like you’re putting $35 in your pocket by buying it, but just think about the $65 you could be saving for a bigger goal or putting into your emergency fund. The $35 you “save” is also a $65 expense.

Before you pull out your credit card for your next online purchase, ask yourself the big question: Do I really need it? Why buy another pair of sweatpants if you already have one for every day of the week?

By consuming responsibly, you’ll:

  • Grow your bank account
  • Help the environment and the planet
  • Reduce your ecological footprint
  • Impress your family on your video call

Shop local!

Whether it’s an oatmilk matcha latte, your groceries, or an organic cotton T-shirt, shopping local means choosing businesses near you. Buying products made in Asia and sold by huge chains is basically the exact opposite approach.

Taking it a step further, shopping local encourages local production. It’s like the expression “farm to table.” It means that what you buy is made with parts or materials that are manufactured or processed by local companies. As a result, there’s less transportation (and therefore less greenhouse gas emissions) and you support local merchants. It means giving back to your community.

What went into making that cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel you’re about to enjoy? Did it all take place locally? It can be hard to know. But if you bought it at your local coffee shop, that’s definitely a step in the right direction!

Where to begin

Birthdays are the perfect time to start changing the way you think about consumption. So, we’ve made a list to help you—yes you—up your “responsible gift-giving” game.

  • Support local artisans by gifting products that are made and sold locally.
  • Give away items you already own.
  • Make your own gifts.
  • Lift up local culture by gifting a novel or vinyl record.
  • Give used objects a second life by shopping second hand.
  • Wear the same clothes as last year.

Remember, you CAN make others happy and give responsibly at the same time!

* Greta Thunberg is a climate change activist..

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