How to Become a More Conscious Consumer

zero waste, fair trade, conscious consumption.

Here at YSTR, our mission is to empower conscious consumption through education and community, but what really is conscious consumption and how do we become conscious consumers? In case you’ve yet to check out our YSTR glossary, a conscious consumer is someone who is aware of the finite amount of resources the Earth has to offer and considers the impacts our purchases make on people and the planet.

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 Do you know where your food was produced?

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It’s important to understand that conscious consumption is not only related to fashion. Really, think how you spent 4th of July weekend: do you know where your food was produced? How about all the gas used taking Ubers around the city when you probably could have walked a few blocks (and also burned off a few calories from all those drinks). What about all those plastic containers wasted at your big barbecue to celebrate the good ‘ole US of A?

That’s right, we’re right there with you. But in all seriousness, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re consuming when you’re having a good time with friends, coworkers, and families.

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What are the first steps to prevent mindless consumption?

Before you buy anything ask yourself the following questions:

“Who made this? Where does it come from? What impact does this have on our planet? How does this impact my life and the lives around me?” 

Every purchase you make has a bigger impact than you think. Once you start asking yourself these questions, there’s no going back to your old mindless consumption days. We’re sharing with you, a few tips on how you can make your next shopping trip or digital shopping spree a little more conscious.


Conscious Consumption 101

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Fashion: 

  • Quality over quantity.

Think about those $10 t-shirts you bought last weekend (gah!). How long do you think they will last? My guess is at most 2 months (MAX!). By that point they will be discolored, maybe have a few holes, and possibly unwearable. So you’ll toss them (creating waste), and start again. By the end of the year, you will spend around $70 to continue to replace the same basic white t-shirt.

We get it, sometimes it’s hard to see how a higher quality product is worth more, especially when you’re on a budget. But if you do the math, it makes sense. If you don’t believe us, take a quick trip to your local landfill and see all the clothing piled up.

We’ve had our Foundation pieces since our very first run. These pieces are designed to become classics in your staple closet.

 • Make a list. Check it twice!

Every time we go shopping we try to make a list of things we really need. If not, we usually end up coming home with another pair of cut off jean shorts, or the same darn black top we bought online last week. Making a list keeps ourselves and our bank accounts in check. And no, you don’t HAVE to literally write it down. It can be a mental checklist! No calls from Chase though, thank you very much :).

Home:

 • Get to know the origin of your food.

We’re going to fill you guys in on a secret: farmers are some pretty bad ass peeps. More than ever, we are flooded with stories all of the awful stuff in our food (um, Food Inc… am I right?), but the good news is that there are farmers working to protect us from all that crap. Yaaaaay!

SO, try joining a CSA in order to buy locally. This will allow you to consume seasonal food, which ultimately helps protect our planet. Offer to help harvest produce at a local farm; get down and dirty and get to know where your food really comes from.

 • Meal prep.

At YSTR there are a few of us that are great at meal prepping, and a few that are not so good. Meal prepping allows you to save a ton of money and also eat food that is probably healthier, locally produced, and portion controlled. It’s an excellent way to really think about how much you consume, in order to reduce food waste.

Night Out:

  • BYOS (Bring your own straws).

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail (or two, or three)? Even better if someone else treats you to it, right? Now think about all of the straws used in one bar for just one night. Never really thought about that have you? Well, its A LOT.

We’re always equipped with a straw which we wash and reuse, to our friends’ horror, but who cares! Yep, I’ll say it again. We wash and reuse straws. If your friends don’t accept you for trying to save the earth then you might as well toss them (kidding… sort of?). Check out this super cool compostable straw and toss one in your purse before you go out next time!

  • Cup markers are essential!

Pre-gaming is a huge part of the going out experience. However, this (plus hosting any party at all) can be extremely wasteful and expensive. So, all in all, you should probably stop having fun. HA, kidding, we wouldn’t do that to you. The problem is when you have too many guests, cups usually get mixed up and then you’re forced to grab a new one which means either throwing a perfectly fine cup out or wasting tons of water rewashing the same cup (those bills man). Not with these bad boys. Added bonus that they are a great talking point if you need a quick ice breaker. Spend a few bucks now to save lots (money, the planet, and your friendships) later.

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Conscious consumption can seem like a large challenge, but by making just a few quick changes in your daily life, it’s easy to make a large impact. We’re not perfect and we all have our moments, but it’s important to learn from our mistakes to understand why we really purchase the items we do. We’re always looking for tips as a team, so share with us how you practice conscious consumption in the comments below!

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