By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Practicing ethical consumption is a great way to show you care about people and the planet.

Ethical Consumption: A Path to Sustainability

Practicing ethical consumption is a great way to show you care about people and the planet.
Colin Freed
October 19, 2023

With the seemingly infinite and pretty overwhelming amount of options available to you as a consumer, it’s hard to pay attention to what it is you’re buying beyond the surface level. Sure, you’ll take a look at the brand - and definitely the price - but how much deeper would you go? Well, it’s partly on the brands and retailers to make finding detailed information about the product as easy as possible - people are exhausted enough as it is. Forcing consumers through a bunch of hoops to figure out how and where a product is made is a burden folks don’t need. But for practitioners of ethical consumption, learning as much as possible about a product before buying it is a honed skill. Given consumption’s impact on the environment - with a 2015 study estimating that 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions came from the production of household goods and services - it’s about time we all become ethical consumers.

So what exactly is ethical consumption? There isn’t really any set definition for it, but here’s my attempt at giving it one: Ethical consumption, also known as conscious or mindful consumption, is a buying behavior in which the consumer takes steps to be aware of how their consumption can potentially have a negative impact on people and the planet, and makes an effort to minimize or eliminate that negative impact. In other words, it means the consumer actively considers the environmental, social, and economic impact of their purchases. Pretty straightforward right? But how do you become an ethical consumer? Below are 3 ways for you to start practicing ethical consumption, and become more sustainable in your life. 

Reduce your Consumption!

The most straightforward way to practice ethical consumption is just to reduce your consumption. Doesn’t get much easier than that, right? Of course, there are things like food and clothing that we all need to continue to buy so this isn’t to say you should stop buying anything - but maybe take a bit more time to assess if you’re buying something you need and will use more frequently or if you’re just buying it for a quick rush of dopamine.

Personal note: A few years ago I had a sort of epiphany where I realized I wasn’t too happy with my life, and that I was trying to get little hits of happiness here and there by buying things I didn’t really need. But the happiness from those purchases was incredibly short-lived and mostly an empty feeling. After doing some soul searching (and therapy), I was able to find more fulfilling ways to find happiness such as trying new hobbies, meditation, nature walks, and more. Which led me to greatly reduce my own consumption (and saved me a boatload of money). If you find yourself buying stuff to feel better, I highly recommend checking out some alternatives that are more sustainable. You can do it!

Participate in the Circular Economy

If you do have to buy something, buy it used if you can. Buying used reduces the need to extract more materials from the environment as well as prevents the additional greenhouse gas emissions that would be created from the production and transportation of the new products. 

Also, take good care of what you buy. Maintaining and repairing the things you own can help minimize the deterioration in quality which means when your time with it is over, it’ll still be usable for someone else and you can sell or donate it. We’re working hard on building Kwipoo to make maintaining and repairing your stuff easier so what goes into and comes out of the circular economy is good sh*t!

Buy from Ethical Brands

Again, if you must buy something new, do research on the brand and product to assess how ethical they are - and only buy from ones that produce ethically and sustainably. This can be tricky, as greenwashing is prevalent and hard for most people to catch. But some good old fashion critical thinking will come in handy here, just approach the brands with caution and look into possible conflicts of interest or other incentives for them to lie about being ethical or sustainable. E.g., if their business model requires more high volume production and consumption of goods, they probably aren’t actually sustainable. 

Two websites I have come across where you can search brands to get ethics info about them are and, though they mostly target fashion. And you should still vet any sites or apps like these to make sure they aren’t being used or created by brands as a type of greenwashing effort.

For a more extensive list of things you can do, take a look at this article from Ethical Consumer. Thanks for reading, and have a great day 🙂