How can I be a conscious consumer

As a communications and media student I'm aware of the methods that can be used by companies or organizations to make them look shiny and fluffy. I can either be very critical of an advertising campaign, because I see what a company is trying to do, or I can applaud an advertising campaign, because I see what a company is trying to do. Since Another Story For Tomorrow is a conscious lifestyle blog I only thought it would be fitting to also create conscious media use as a reoccurring topic on here. A topic in which I explain how I use media in a mindful manner, and also share my perspective as a communications and media professional to be.

In this post I'll explain what greenwashing is, how you can recognize it, and what you can do about it. I'm discussing greenwashing, because I think awareness of this marketing/public relations method is important, especially when you want to be a conscious consumer.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a marketing/public relations method used by companies or organizations that want to appear environmentally friendly, or show awareness of societal issues. Greenwashing is often associated with companies that try to do good in order to boost their corporate social responsibility, but aren't practicing their good deeds at the core of the company. For example, a company can publicly support an environmental organization, but the company does nothing to make their production of products sustainable.
A company needs to be transparent

How can I recognize greenwashing?

A lot of companies have some kind of statement about their mission for sustainability, and vaguely state something about the environmental awareness of the company. Pay attention to how these statements are written and how much information is actually given. 'We want to be sustainable' and 'This is how we make sure that our production is sustainable and ethical' offer two completely different realities. When a company is transparent about their production process and circumstances, it is much more likely that a company is actually trying to be as sustainable as possible, because they're showing you what they're doing to be sustainable.

What can I do about greenwashing?

To put it simply, don't fall for it. Be aware of what greenwashing is, and be critical of the companies your buying from. You can also make companies aware of the fact that you are of what they're doing, or at least question their motives when they make a statement about being green. In some cases companies aren't aware that they're greenwashers, so make them aware that they can't support A, and do B.
How to stop using your phone as much

During my internship, I started to notice that I had a hard time switching off, and actively being in the moment. The more I thought about that, the more it bothered me. So, I decided to work on it and came up with the following tips.

Tips on how switch off and be in the moment

Switch off your phone or put it on 'in flight' mode

This is especially helpful if you have a work or project WhatsApp group, or something of that sort, that your colleagues will use to communicate work stuff outside of your work hours. You can also mute the conversation, but I have found that I still see the messages, and therefore, still get stressed about what is happening at the office. If you're also like this, try introducing Slack at your office.

If you really want to go all out you can put your phone in another room, or in a drawer, so you don't get tempted to quickly respond to some emails, or to scroll through Instagram.

Set boundaries

With setting boundaries, I mean, telling other people you're not available after a certain time, or for a certain period of time. This way people now when it isn't very useful to message or call you. If you're self-employed or do projects online, I also think it's very important to set boundaries for yourself. Otherwise, you'll just end up being switched on all the time, and trust me, you'll be saying the words 'burn out' sooner than, 'I'm so glad I didn't miss that one post in my feed'.

Get excited for the activity you want to be in the moment for

This might sound silly, but if you're excited about an activity, you're much more inclined not to grab your phone to see who has tagged you on Facebook during whatever you're doing in that moment.

Keep others accountable as well

If you're the only one that isn't on their phone during family night, or during a dinner with friends, then there is not really a use for unplugging yourself. So, however annoying it might be, comment on it. You all decided to be together in that moment, so you might as well be in the moment together.

How to stop buying products that are tested on animals

At the start of 2014, I decided that I no longer wanted to support companies that allow animal testing to be done on their behalf or companies that actually test their products on animals themselves. Why? Well, that's quite simple, because I think it's cruel, and considering that we have the technology to conduct ethical testing, I also think animal testing is unnecessary.

But you live in Europe, isn't there a law that forbids animal testing for cosmetics?

Yes, there's a ban on animal testing in Europe (you can read the specifics of that ban here). However, there is also a law in mainland China that requires foreign companies to conduct animal testing if they want to sell their products in China. So, one way or another, many brands still allow animal testing when required by law, and if I were to buy from companies that sell their products in mainland China, I would be supporting a brand that allows animal testing to be conducted on their behalf. Suzi from Cruelty-Free Kitty has written a great cruelty-free 101 post about animal testing in China, so if you want to know more details about animal testing in China, you can read that here.

My tips for going cruelty-free

  1. Go through your cosmetic products/toiletries (and you can also go through your cleaning supplies), and mark all of the products from brands that are not cruelty-free. This way you know for which products you need to find a replacement once the product has run out. Logical Harmony by Tashina Combs has a great cruelty-free brand list that you can find over here.
  2. Use up products before you replace them for cruelty-free options, or if the products are new enough, see if you can find it a new home. It would be wasteful to just throw out all of your products from companies that conduct animal testing. However, beauty products do have an expiration date, if a product smells funky, or is way past their expiration date, then the healthy thing to do would be to throw it out.
  3. Create a list of cruelty-free brands in the notes app on your phone. This way you can always check if the product you're buying is from a cruelty-free brand.