The pandemic exacerbated online shopping and the digital reality became more and more relevant. People loved being able to purchase anything with one quick (and often cheap) click. Online, nothing is unattainable. Fast, reliable, and affordable, e-commerce and on-demand delivery have developed during Covid-19. And, given their success, they won’t go away soon. But some users are concerned. Fast doesn’t always mean eco-friendly and sustainable. That’s why a new trend is developing: conscious consumerism.
It’s the economy of purpose. Not just buy for the sake of it, but think about its social and environmental impact. Now, convenience has to also be responsible. More and more companies are offering people convenience without any guilt. They offer solace as a service to ensure their customers don’t feel guilty with their purchase. Fast and affordable isn’t enough anymore.
Conscious consumerism explained
The Graziadio Business School defines this trend as the “buying practices driven by a commitment to making purchasing decisions that have a positive social, economic, and environmental impact. Consumers are buying into businesses that lead with their moral compasses, not compromising the well-being of workers, animals, or the environment for financial profits.”
It’s ethical shopping that ensures quality, sustainability, and guilt-free shopping. If consumers know that a company is responsible and it respects its workers, people are more likely to choose it. So, no more corporations exploiting employees or polluting the Earth.
Defining the terms
Attention: conscious consumerism isn’t synonym of fair trade. In fact, fair trade is a form of activism and a global movement. Its aim is to give rights to workers worldwide, to the marginalized ones who produce goods for us. Hence, support the people of the developing countries. The fair trade movement features associations that are committed to these goals, putting the livelihood of workers first.
On the other hand, conscious consumerism doesn’t have associations to promote it. It’s not a global movement but the behavior of buyers. It’s supporting the companies that support their workers and environment. Indeed: the complete opposite of fast fashion.
The rewards and the companies doing it
People’s rejection of fast fashion is one of the main examples of conscious consumerism. Corporations have been producing affordable clothing with low-quality materials and at an unbelievable speed. It’s the latest fashion trend, made to wear for a few weeks and then..back in the closet. Indeed, a toxic system and cycle that produced pollution and it had an impact on the workers.
The waste of fast fashion is undeniable:
- No recycling leads to a $500 billion loss which all goes to waste.
- Flight and maritime transportation amount to 5% of CO2 emissions. Fast fashion amounts to 10%.
- This ready-to-wear (and discard) industry produces half a million micro plastics of nylon and polyester. These micro plastics also make it to the ocean.
Amazon held accountable
So, fast fashion is damaging. And so is any industry that isn’t conscious. Consumers have the power to make this reality change. How? By pressuring corporations like Amazon, giant of e-commerce and pollution. Not only, Amazon has also received critiques from its workers who also signed a petition:
“As employees, we are alarmed that Amazon’s pollution is disproportionately concentrated in communities of color,” reads the petition, which was obtained by NBC News. “We want to be proud of where we work. A company that lives up to its statements about racial equity and closes the racial equity gaps in its operations is a critical part of that.”
Consumers also asked Amazon to do better. That’s why the company launched “Elements,” a line of every-day essentials focused on transparency. Fashion company Cult Mia is taking the same approach and it has committed to supporting local designers and setting strict criteria for sustainability, social consciousness, and gender equality.
“When people think about shopping locally, especially in emerging countries, they think of tourist shops and stereotypical cultural finds,” said Cult Mia founder, Nina Brener-Hellmund, “We’re creating this authentic destination shopping experience that lifts up local production, without the travel.”
Local, responsible, and empowering. The who, where, and how are important to contemporary consumers.
Why it matters
Fashion companies aren’t the only ones discovering the trend of conscious consumerism. Every industry (including beverage and chocolate) is starting to focus on sustainability, transparency, and responsibility. Consumers hold them accountable, so companies improve. Just like the carbontech trend, the world of business changes to meet the demands of contemporary consumers and stay relevant. The reward? Profit.