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Consumerism and environmental impacts has always been a complicated equation. Especially as the digital world gains more and more traction every year and it’s easier than ever to shop for whatever you want, whenever you want. But with most of our shopping habits thrown out of whack due to COVID, is consumer behaviour going to change for good?
Over the last year, we found ourselves shopping more for our basic needs and shopping more consciously (apart from the group of people who felt the need to bulk-buy toilet roll). We were going to the supermarket LESS, to minimize the COVID risk. And we also weren’t buying as much, in regards to cosmetics, clothes and other non-essentials. Why?
- The shops were closed, giving us less options
- A lot of people were on furlough or had sadly lost their jobs so were more cautious about money
- We had nowhere to go and therefore, no need for such items
Are shoppers more likely to shop with the kinder more sustainable option?
But we’ve also become much more aware of our shopping habits in regards to sustainability. More brands are introducing sustainable materials or collections (but the issue of green washing mustn’t be overlooked here), offering sustainable and eco-friendly packaging and going full Vegan with their ingredients. There are companies such as The Green Alchemist who even buy and sell recycled materials.
From my own personal experience, I know that I’m much more likely to shop with the kinder and more sustainable option. Of course I’m no where near perfect and there are times where I shop for convenience. But on a whole, I’m much more aware of what’s in the products I’m buying now. For example, my skincare is all cruelty free and Vegan 9 times out of 10.
As we saw so many elements of the natural world thriving during the pandemic when most of us were staying at home, I think it’s likely that shoppers are going to consider the sustainable option much more seriously than before. However my only worry is those who might want to “make up for lost time” now the shops have re-opened.
So how is consumer behaviour changing now?
Well first of all, eCommerce is booming. Selling online is where most people make their money, it’s almost too convenient for it’s own good and more and more small businesses are cropping up everywhere you look. If you have an eCommerce idea, check out Why Matters for help on getting started.
I think we’re also being a bit more cautious with our money and not going on needless shopping sprees anymore. Maybe the novelty has worn off? Or perhaps after the year we’ve had more and more people have realised that anything could happen with their finances and they’re just being a bit more wary. Either way, definitely not a bad thing.
I think more people are also shopping small because we’re aware that small businesses have suffered over the last year. It’s been heartbreaking to see so many small businesses – either online or off – shut their doors due to the pandemic.
And as for sustainability, I also think we’re leaning more towards the way of sustainable shopping. As consumers and as sellers. It’s nice to see more small businesses focus on natural ingredients, Vegan products and sustainable packaging.
How can you be more sustainable when you shop?
If you’re aware that you shopping habits might need to change or perhaps you’re looking to do your bit in living a more sustainable lifestyle and helping the planet in that way, then here are some small ways to be more sustainable when you shop, including everything from the product you buy, to how to get there:
- Shop small: Shopping from small businesses is a great way to not only be more sustainable but also support a small business at the same time, rather than a chain.
- Shop local: Try shopping for produce and materials locally, rather than outsourcing from online retailers
- Make sustainable swaps: These are the simple, every day things that you can swap out for a more sustainable option. For example, eliminating disposable cotton pads from your shopping list and investing in reusable pads instead.
- Recycle all your packaging: Obviously ensuring what you have is recyclable but making sure you recycle what you can and reuse what you can’t.
- Avoid using plastic bags: When heading out to the shops, a simple thing you can do is take a tote bag or a shopper.
- Limit your single use plastic: And if you’re can an able, limit what singe use plastic you buy. For example, you might want to consider buying fruit which isn’t already packaged.
- Write to brands to enquire about their sustainability measures: If you’re concerned about their sustainability measures or feel like they could do better, don’t hesitate to email them.
- Limit your meat and dairy intake: Something which not only benefits the environment but also your health and that’s limiting your meat intake. And any meat you do eat, try and shop for it locally.
- Avoid driving to the shops: And finally, if you can, take a stroll to the shops instead of the car!