Despite efforts to recycle more often and switch to renewable energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. In 2022 alone, we produced 37.15 billion tonnes of carbon. That’s a 3 billion tonne jump in 10 years and is a sign that more must be done to curb consumption.
Researchers attributed most of these emissions to “international shipping.” This underlines the reality that overconsumption and consumer culture could be undermining your efforts to live an eco-friendly, low-carbon life.
Buck the trend of overconsumption by cultivating a mindful, eco-friendly approach when shopping. This will minimize the amount of waste you produce, keep your budget in check, and help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to give up personal care and small treats. That’s because conscious consumerism isn’t about giving up things that bring you joy. Instead, it’s about finding new, eco-friendly ways to spend your money and take care of yourself.
For example, rather than giving up your skin-care products, educate yourself and find low-waste ways to produce the same results. Skincare is an important form of self-care that improves your appearance and helps you destress after a busy day. However, many products are produced en masse and contain plastic packaging.
You can minimize your waste and turn your back on the high-waste beauty industry by leaning on green tea instead. Green tea is good for your skin, is budget-friendly, and contains powerful epigallocatechin gallate. This fights off the signs of early aging, minimizes acne flare-ups, and gives you relief from sunburn. Home-made green tea products reduce your waste while you enjoy the same benefits of commercially produced face masks and moisturizers.
This same approach can apply to your food consumption, too. For example, you may be tempted to pick up plastic-packaged fast food when you’re in a rush. However, convenience foods like Big Macs have the same carbon cost as driving a car 8 miles. A mindful approach will help you set aside time for food preparation during the week. This will minimize your waste, improve your health, and help you keep a tighter budget.
Maintaining a budget in our consumer-heavy world can be tough. There are always great deals available online and it’s all too easy to go over budget when grocery shopping. However, ballooning budgets are a sign that you’re buying too much and contributing to consumer culture.
Instead, learn to set a budget that brings balance to your social life and spending. A good budget will set aside funds for things like big social events and clothes. A clear budget will help you identify areas to save, too, as you’ll be able to track spending on subscriptions, groceries, and eating out.
Remember to build some flexibility into your budget. This will keep you on track in the long term and reduce the risk of massive overspending. In general, your budget should strive to follow the 50/30/20 split:
- 50% on necessities
- 30% on wants
- 20% to savings
This helps reduce your footprint by minimizing the amount of high-carbon “want” purchases. It’ll also help you put away some money for funds that can be spent on more expensive, low-impact alternatives to your favorite goods.
Leading a more sustainable, mindful lifestyle can require large changes to your daily habits. This can become overwhelming quickly if you’re not used to eco-friendly living but want to cut down on overconsumption.
Start with small sustainable choices that make a big impact. For example, if you typically eat a diet rich in animal products, consider switching to a plant-based meal once per week. This will build a strong association between the food you eat and the impact it has on the environment. You’ll also have room to experiment and learn if you take things slowly and maintain your commitment to eating more low-carbon, locally sourced produce.
A more mindful approach to consumption can help you find inner peace, too. Rather than spending all your time and money on material items, set aside more of your day to engage in reflection and decluttering. Recycle any products that you decide to remove from your life and try to create a routine based on carbon-neutral activities that you enjoy. This can help you sustain your long-term commitment to green living and will innately reduce your waste and emissions.
Conscious consumption is crucial for low-waste living. Rather than spending all your money and energy on accumulating material goods, set aside some time for yourself. You can use this time to create low-waste self-care items like green tea masks or put together a budget that helps minimize your spending.
You can further reduce your footprint by making small changes, like eating more plant-based meals per week. This will bring you a sense of inner peace that is sustainable and motivating.