3 Ways to Becoming a Conscious Consumer When You Don't Know How to Start (They're Simpler Than You'd Expect)

'Socially conscious'

'Conscious fashion'

'Environmentally conscious'

These phrases have been making headlines in the past couple of years and it's not just a hype.

More apparel brands than ever are catching on to its relevance and importance but what does being a conscious consumer even mean?

Webster defines "Conscious" as

1. perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation
2. being concerned or interested, marked by strong feelings 
3. done or acting with critical awareness 

In the realm of fashion, it’s two parts.

It’s knowing the harmful issues and who and what is affected by them, and it’s choosing to do something about it whether in your own life or on a grander scale.

While the apparel supply chain is complex and yet to be fully regulated, there are ways to combat these issues.

Try these three steps and you'll be on your way to becoming a more conscious consumer.

1. Understand your impact

It's pretty difficult to improve something you don't realize is a problem.

The negative impacts of the fashion industry alone are endless, but these are critical issues you definitely should be aware of:

  • Unsafe working conditions

  • Water pollution

  • Child labor

  • Waste

Understanding your impact really means noticing which activities in your life play a role in those issues mentioned.

This can include:

  • Buying brand new clothes every other week

  • Shopping at and supporting fast fashion brands

  • Throwing clothes away

  • Giving in to extra cheap deals (A low cost to you doesn't equate to no cost. Someone somewhere is paying the price.)

2. Believe that staying educated is a civic duty

Our brains are so powerful.

You will feel 10x more motivated when you approach education as a responsibility to help those without access to the internet, social media, or news.

There are tons of resources at our fingertips that are often overlooked:

  • Digging through your favorite brand's supply chain (Then making the decision to stop or continue supporting them.)

  • Following Instagram users, listening to podcasts, subscribing to Youtube channels, etc. (And sharing their message!)

  • Following Instagram hashtags to appear on your feed automatically (Try #WHOMADEMYCLOTHES, #KILLFASTFASHION, #ETHICALFASHION, #FASHIONREVOLUTION.)

  • Reading relevant articles (It’s as easy as a Google Search on ‘fast fashion’)

3. Reflect, Learn, and Do Better

Nobody is perfect. Slipping up, though not an excuse, is normal when starting out on this journey.

If you ever make the mistake of supporting fast fashion, think about all harmful effects and relate it back to the alternatives.

There’s no doubt it will be a challenge. But with these simple steps it's only a matter of time, repetition, and discipline until you notice an improvement in your shopping habits.

And it will feel good.

Take this as your next challenge, not just for yourself, but for those who work around the clock making cheap clothes to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

Those are the people that need us to improve our habits the most.