By Fredrica Syren:
Have you ever asked yourself how some products we buy can be so cheap?
Over time I began to question how on earth a store can make a profit on a super cheap item while getting the materials, shipping the materials to a factory, and maybe even having the item made in another country then shipped to the U.S. Let’s face it — no business will stay in business without making a profit, and cheap things comes with a price. In a world where consumers want more for less money, it’s no wonder businesses and producers feel that the way to make more money is by taking shortcuts.
How do we become a conscious consumer?
Do your research—Always do the research — look into companies and manufacturers to learn about the raw materials they use, their business practices, whether theyare a small company or a factory, etc. Some companies are committed to practicing more sustainability and using recycled materials, or accepting old items for recycling, or supporting a cause they work for.
Choose quality over quantity—Cheap products mean cheap labor, cheap materials and things that might break sooner. Choose quality and fewer items. Take Vivienne Westwood’s advice and “Buy less, choose well, and make it last.”
Choose companies that give back—Some companies work to donate part of their proceeds or provide financial or educational support, or supply community support.
Take care of things you buy—When we consume too much and have too much, it’s easy to treat things like disposables and thoughtlessly throw them away. I firmly believe that the fewer thingswe own, the bettercare we take of them.
Choose locally produced things—Look for brands and businesses that are local, sustainable and high quality. Why should we look to buy locally produced things? Just as fast and cheap foods come from factory farms where the animals are treated badly, cheap products usually are manufactured overseas in sweatshops and factories with unfair working conditions.So, not only does locally manufactured clothing in general assure a better work environment, but it also reduces our carbon footprint caused by fossil fuels that are used, for example, in textile and garment production, and its transportation.By educating yourself, you will learn that the cheapest price is not necessarily the fair one.
The fact is that everything penny we spend signals the practices we’re willing or not willing to accept from companies and manufacturers. If we opt for more but cheaper goods, we also are saying that we’re ok that the manufacturer takes advantage of workers or uses questionable materials that might have a negative effect on the planet.