Friday 28th September has been celebrated the past two years as ‘Green Consumer Day’. A reflection by ARRCC Committee Member, Jenni Downes, on what being a ‘Green Consumer’ really means.
From an ARRCC perspective, we believe that anything that raises awareness about the issues arising from our consumerist lifestyle is important.
However the concept of a ‘Green consumer’ is somewhat problematic. To continue living our current consumerist lifestyles is unsustainable. A truthful recognition of the limits of our planet’s finite resources requires us to radically reduce and change our consumption habits in ways which are ecologically sustainable and show respect for future generations and those we share this Earth with.
A green consumer is therefore one that, firstly, does everything possible not to consume, and then everything they can do to reduce the impacts of their remaining ‘necessary’ consumption.
We’ve all heard of the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ slogan, which aims to lessen the impact of our consumption, but did you know that in recent times, people have begun expanding this, incorporating a number of different ideas? The following is a suggested hierarchy for approaching consumption. Why not try to put as many of these into practice this 'Green Consumers Day' and then continue to integrate them into your buying habits.
- Refuse: Ask whether you really need something before you buy it, and choose not to buy/use those things you don’t really need. For example:
- Say no to plastic bags (bring your own bags, ask for boxes or just carry them in your arms if its only a few items.)
- Put a ‘no junkmail’ sign on your letterbox.
- Rethink: Think if there is another way other purchasing something. For example:
- Can you borrow from someone, or use something else in its place?
- Reduce: Reduce the impact of ‘necessary’ consumption and minimise waste. For example:
- Buy reuseable products (eg. rechargeable batteries, refillable containers) and avoid disposable/one use products (eg. bottled water, paper/plastic plates, disposable razors)
- Avoid buying products with excessive packaging (eg. individually wrapped snacks, etc.) and buy in bulk. Choose recyclable or compostible packing (eg. paper, cardboard, over plastics)
- Buy reliable and timeless items that won’t need to be replaced for a long time.
- Reuse: Don’t through things out when they can still be used. For example:
- Wash plastic takeaway containers, etc.
- Regift/resell: If you can’t reuse it, can you think of someone else who can. For example
- Can you give clothes as handmedowns to family and friends?
- Donate items to charity shops (Old spectacles/glasses can often be donated it international aid charities)
- Can you list it for sale on ebay or free on gumtree or freecycle?
- Repair: When thing break, see if you can fix it, before deciding to replace it. For exampe:
- Check out DIY guides to try thing yourself.
- If you can’t fix it yourself, there might be a local craftor tradesperson in your area…
- Sometimes repairs seem to be more expensive than just replacing it, but this is because the price doesn’t reflect the true costs to the environment. Better quality items are usually more able to be repaired…
- Repurpose: If something can’t be reused or repaired, can you find something else to do with it? For example:
- A lot of grocery packaging can be repurposed as craft materials (eg. toilet rolls, cardboard boxes, etc.),
- Your organic waste be composted
- Glass jars can be washed and use them again to store food or things like buttons and nails
- Broken ceramics may be a treasure to a nearby mosaic artist
- Recycle: Avoid putting things in the rubbish that can be recycled. For example:
- Ensure that you place all recyclable waste into the recycling rather than in the rubbish (eg. check all hard plastic containers for the little PET triangle, and rinse out any before popping in the recycling
- Find out local drop-off recycling facilities for batteries, mobile phones, printer cartirdges, e-waste, plastic shopping bags, lightbulbs, etc.