Let me first begin by saying that this blog is based on my research as a consumer. I am by no means an expert but I sure am someone who likes to make choices which are healthy for the body and considers the impact on the environment at large. My journey into being a conscious consumer was driven by my commitment to my personal health and my desire to understand the impacts of my everyday choices on the environment we live in.
Here are 7 choices I try and make almost every time I shop for myself:
- Eat more real, whole, organic foods – While some people think that organic farming is nothing but a marketing gimmick to charge high prices, I follow what my senses tell me. When I smell a bunch of organic cilantro it seems divinely aromatic versus a conventional one which doesn’t seem to smell as strong. My father was recently visiting from India and oatmeal happens to be his breakfast of choice. For the first 10 days he was eating the Organic Rolled Oats I bought from Whole Foods and when we needed to replenish he decided to buy the conventional variety. The next 2 days he ate the conventional oats and told me that he experienced a difference in taste between the organic vs the conventional one. From the environmental perspective, it makes sense to me to reduce the usage of chemical based farming products which may increase the yield in the short term but cost us the quality of the soil in the long run.
2. Buy garments made mostly of natural fibres i.e. cotton, wool, linen etc. – Not many of us look at the composition of our garments and we perhaps no longer know what are natural versus synthetic fibres. Until now what I simply knew was that natural fibres help your body breathe better which is something all women who wear cotton panties understand very well 🙂 I did not know until this Sunday when I watched Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act on Fast Fashion that materials like nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex are developed using natural gas or oil.
3. Reduce your consumption of animal products – In all the arguments made for animal protein, the one that I chose to listen to was that if you follow the food chain, the animals we eat are mostly herbivores who eat plants themselves, so , why not cut out the secondary digestive system processing of another organism and get to the greens directly? Aside from food, we also use animal products in clothing/furniture/cosmetics which can easily be avoided for more sustainable substitutes. Considering that 24 % of the global green house gas emissions come from the Agriculture sector (read about Methane release from cows if you haven’t yet), if we all consumed 10-20 % lesser animal products daily, it might just help our future. Watch The Game Changers on Netflix to find out why many world class athletes switched to plant based diets.
4. Source local when possible- I would think that this is true for all products we consume however we may not be able to source all products locally. In our quest for ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’, we have perhaps created a global disparity where the more populous and poor countries end up becoming manufacturing hubs without much regard to any fair trade practices in terms of wages, working conditions or dumping or waste into their oceans/air (which is ultimately the one single earth we have) . When you can buy local, you can not only honor the local economy but you would also be on an alert for any waste being dumped in your neighborhood. In my humble opinion , small and local is always better from the long term perspective. Personally, I do try and look for produce which is local but being in the northern hemisphere, I do have challenges around winter when there isn’t much local produce that I can buy. Just, do your best and be more mindful.
5. Use as less plastic as possible- find out what is recyclable and what’s not- I don’t think we have any idea of how much plastic exists in our lives in the form of carry bags, storage containers, shipping materials, water bottles, disposable cutlery etc. While we can remain ignorant in the short term, we can’t do so in the long run. Here is a link I found useful which is local to US to find out which plastics are recyclable and which will end up in oceans/landfills.
By the same token, I also avoid products that contain synthetic fragrances (parfum) since they are usually made of undisclosed chemicals. Thanks to my sensitive olfactory system, I can easily detect when I am in the presence of a synthetic fragrance in the form of scents/air fresheners/cleaning products/shampoos/conditioners etc. Often times we think of air pollution as something gray, dark, heavy and smokey where you can’t breathe easily, the irony of synthetic fragrance is that it momentarily makes you feel good but our bodies work a lot harder to process these foreign substances. Hopefully we all know that the Beauty industry has been taking advantage of how highly unregulated it is. For more on fragrances, check out Stink on Netflix.
6. Walk/bike/use public transportation more to get to your destination when possible – This bullet point here perhaps needs the least ‘push’ of all since we do understand the perils of breathing in highly unhealthy air quality. I do understand that not all cities have great public transport , in which case we can try and carpool often.
7. Follow circadian rhythms- Anyone wondering what this is? It is as simple as following the day/night signals set by nature. This is not only healthy in the long term for our bodies but would also lead to lesser consumption of energy if more of us tried to sleep/wind down around sunset and wake up close to sunrise. We try and instill this habit in our children but it definitely get difficult as we start ‘adulting’. In this age of gadgets, we could surely try and switch off as many gadgets as possible with sunset and reuse them in the morning. This may also prove to be useful for our real family time 🙂
Hope you find this info useful!
Would you like to share how you make practical life choices to co-exist with all other life on the planet?