by Ilio Masprone – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merits
MONACO. It can be so overwhelming that we don’t even bother, but living more responsibly doesn’t have to be complicated. Last August I I’ve yet given the subject some thought writing an article focused on being a “conscious traveller”, thanks to five simple steps. Right now, to be a conscious consumer means to seek environmentally friendly products that promote small business and support a living wage for the people who produce them. Most companies, with enough research, will have a few practices that are concerning, either in their labor practices, environmental impact, or political involvement. The products themselves aren’t perfect, either. For instance, there was a time we were supposed to use plastic bags at the grocery store and stop using paper. Now we’re supposed to use paper and stop using plastic. Both have drawbacks. Of course, we should probably just bring reusable cloth bags, but my point still stands that few of our choices are “perfect” as consumers. The idea is that every time we spend money, we’re making a choice for what type of world we want to live in. But I see both ups and downs to this. Let’s start with the positives of conscious consumerism. First, it promotes more engagement and thoughtfulness. It makes us ask hard questions about the impact our choices have on the environment and the living conditions of other people. If enough people use their consciences when considering what products to purchase, then companies that abuse the environment and their employees will be forced to change their business model. Second, purchasing with more deliberation often results in acquiring higher-quality products. Not settling for poorly made, cheap items that are mass-produced by underpaid workers definitely means better quality.Finally, even if there are no rewards for the consumer, conscious consumerism is an attempt to make the world a better place and that should be its own reward. That’s well and good, but here are the drawbacks … First, conscious consumerism is more expensive, and that isn’t always feasible for a family budget. Second, when choosing among different products and companies, there aren’t always good options. Conscious consumerism is a personal choice. No one can do it for us. The solution isn’t political, it isn’t guilting each other or hoping a new corporation will do it for us. It is not necessary to take vows of poverty or become anti-materialists. But we must admit that everywhere at home, and in every social class, the big problem is buying and throwing away a lot of stuff, especially food. Following some simple solutions, consuming less could be very positive. We will save some money, live more responsibly, and learn not to be too attached to our patterns of consumption. Therefore, first, try buying one less item per month. Second, drive to the mall one less time. Third, skip the fast food place and eat at home on real dishes. Fourth, make the smartphone last six more months before indulging in a new one. Fifth, turn the lights off when you leave the room. If we all did the simple, smaller things, it would have large, definable effects.