How To Be An Ethical And Responsible Consumer

One of the main ideologies of the minimalism life, is to consume less. This is based on the idea that less consumption, equals less production, equals less waste. It is good for the environment, it is good for your wallet, and it is good for your happiness.

We have been lied to. Every day we are lied to; by companies who try to sell us overrated products, that they insist that we need. Further than that, we are stifled by insecurities, carefully fed to us until our subconscious mind caves in, and makes a life saving purchase. We are told, for example, that we are not beautiful enough, and that the only way to solve this inadequacy, is to buy a certain beauty product.

Our whole material lives are manufactured this way; with companies battling to slot their products into your psyche, with the maximum impact possible. We have come a long way down a road of consumer BS. We shop mindlessly. Many people actually believe that shopping, and owning more stuff, leads to happiness. Many more shop for pleasure.

The shop for pleasure attitude is the prime example of needless consumer behavior. In this case, the consumer does not even know what they want to buy; they simply set themselves a certain budget, and go out with the intention of spending some cash. In case you haven’t worked it out, this is not a good idea for anyone who is looking to live a life of minimalism.

We live in a modern world, and material items are integrated into the fabric of society, so that it is difficult to function well without at least having some stuff. An attitude of responsible consumerism is needed. As a modern minimalist, it is not the aim to never consume; or even to never spend a needless penny again. This is an unrealistic aim for everyone apart from those brave souls who would rather jump ship and live in the wild.

Responsible consumerism is, like minimalism, different for everyone. The first step to responsible consumerism is very simple; want less stuff, buy less stuff.

Less is more in minimalism, and any reduction in your consumer habits is a great start. Buy less stuff, and you will already be well on the road to responsible spending.

The Buying Checklist:

If you struggle, at first, to know the difference between a necessary purchase, and a mindless act of consumerism, then begin to ask yourself some sobering questions before you make any purchase. This will help to introduce a new thought-process to your decision. You are questioning your own motives for the purchase:

  • Do I really need this?
  • If I don’t need it, does it add to my happiness and well-being?
  • Did I notice that I wanted this, and choose to buy it, or am I buying it on impulse?
  • If I put it back and walked away now, would I be without it when I got home?

Questions like these help you to make conscious buying decisions, rather than frivolous purchases. If you find yourself making excuses for the buy, or doubting whether you need it, then put it back and walk away.

Buying Second Hand

There is a way that you can enjoy new items, within the philosophy of responsible consumerism. That is, not harm will come if you make second hand purchases. You are not promoting the production of the item, you are simply recycling someone else’s waste. This should not become an excuse for more mindless consumerism; again the aim is to keep your life de-cluttered, and not to buy unless you need something, but when you do go to make a purchase why not make use of what other people don’t want. Try for whole load of free treasure; it is the modern day equivalent of raiding the skip.

Ethical Buying

Some companies, corporations, and industries, are questionable at best, while others are just downright scummy, and should be completely avoided. The meat industry is notoriously bad, and the food industry in general is repeatedly caught violating regulations, mistreating stock, and poisoning food. Companies have committed global atrocities, including capturing water from poor villages for their factories, and selling back their produce to the thirsty. Other companies operate foreign sweatshops, where they mistreat and underpay employees, in the name of maximizing their profits. If you buy from companies with unethical values, then you adopt and support those values in your consumption. Do not support these horrid beasts.

Shop Locally

On way to consume responsibly and ethically, is to shop at local businesses wherever possible. It is more likely that you can find the source of the product you are buying, and more likely that the whole process has been more humane. It is also more likely that the food you buy will be fresh and simple, and the experience of shopping locally is all round much more ethical. Plus, the money stays within the community, and makes for a better place to live

Dealing With Waste

Responsible consumerism is not only a matter of buying less, and buying from the right place. It is also concerned with dealing with waste in a more responsible manner. You can compost your natural waste by allowing it to rot in the corner of the garden, or in a trash can. Old items and unwanted possessions can be given away, sold, or recycled, and a lot of scrap can also be recycled to. Most waste can be dealt with without the need to cause great environmental damage.


  • Buy Less
  • Use The Purchase Checklist
  • Buy Well Sourced and Local
  • Deal With Your Waste Well
  • Live A Happier Life Of Minimalism