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How To Be a More Conscious Consumer

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

In today’s fast-paced, instant gratification world it can be quite difficult to be a conscious consumer or to be a better shopper full stop. In this article, I’ll be running through a few tips and tricks that you can practice in Cape Town that’ll help you be a better consumer and a better citizen of the city!

So what does being a conscious consumer mean?

Being a conscious consumer can be defined in many different ways: as an individual, you’ve got to figure out what lifestyle you want to live and how you can achieve it. Being conscious is not just one thing, it spans different sectors and industries, and differs from person to person. Is your idea of being a conscious consumer/citizen environmentally friendly? Maybe you take more of a beauty approach and want to live a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle. Or perhaps you’re trying to be more eco-friendly by limiting your fast-fashion intake?

For some, consuming only locally sourced food (including meat and dairy) that is totally organic and not factory farmed is deemed extremely conscious, while others consider veganism (across the board, not just food consumption) to be the end goal. Whatever it is, just remember that the little things that you do make an impact, and at the end of the day it’s about how you feel.

Clothing & Jewellery

Quality over quantity: such a simple statement, but as young people living in a world with new trends (and micro-trends) changing all the time, it can be tricky choosing to buy good quality clothing every few months/years instead of buying clothing from fast-fashion brands that collapse after a few washes. In saying that however, some of my pieces from fast-fashion brands such as H&M, Mr Price, Cotton On and Zara have lasted me many years (and I hope a few more). So when shopping, just make sure you’re checking out the fabrics being used (linen and cotton are good options, polyester is the least durable) and whether you’re buying an item because it’s trendy now or if it’s because you actually like the item.

Local brands: pretty self-explanatory! Buying from local brands that use local labour and materials ensures that you’re both contributing to our local economy and being a conscious consumer. The only issue with this is that locally-made items tend to be a bit pricier than fast-fashion, so I like to make sure that when I’m buying from a local manufacturer, I’m buying a forever item.

Re-use, re-purpose, re-do!: Interpret this as you like! For me, this entails second-hand shopping (in-person shops or even ‘online – Facebook marketplace and Instagram accounts are great), raiding friend’s and family’s wardrobes, going to car-boot sales, thrift markets, and even finding old clothing and seeing if you can jazz them up a bit to fit your style now. Have fun with this!

Food

Local produce: Once again, buying locally tends to be the better option for both the economy, taste, and your contribution to society. Buying local produce from farmer’s markets can often be more expensive than stock standard grocery shopping, so financial awareness and budget play a role here. What I like to do when I grocery shop, especially for fresh food, is see what’s been imported and what’s actually grown locally, and go from there.

Grow your own!: As students, this one might be a bit complicated, but if you’re in a space with a garden or some pots outside/in the kitchen, you can try to grow your own herbs and veggies. Having a cute lil herb plant in your kitchen really adds to the space, as well as knowing you have a food source readily available. If you can’t grow your own but know people who do, maybe ask for some of their produce! You could even do a trade: if I have some of your lemons, I can make a lemon drizzle cake for you. Or a nice salad dressing.

Eating out? Eat local: Seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, but with the over-saturation of franchises, eating local isn’t always as easy as it seems. A cheeky KFC or vegan Burger King is so quick and easy, but if you step outside of your known and explore Cape Town a bit more, you’ll come to realise that we have a lot (a lot) of delicious, well-priced local restaurants/cafes/takeaways that can satisfy your craving and make you a better consumer.

I hope this was helpful! Good luck on your journey to becoming a more conscious, Cape Town consumer!

Hi! I'm a film student and an avid reader. I adore cooking, nature, and trying to be the best version of myself :)