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Published on May 10th, 2017 | by Technable

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Consumer Choice: How the Products You Buy Impact the Environment

Consumer Choice: How the Products You Buy Impact the Environment

If you’re like most Americans, you start your day off with some combination of breakfast (including a meat product), a long shower, and then you brush your teeth before you hit the road. That’s assuming you don’t have kids or a family to add to the routine. Sound about right? Science Alert found that developed nations like China and the United States, which have thriving tech sectors, also have profound needs for consumer technology and consumables that contribute to smog, unsustainable farming practices, and general waste.

As part of a developed nation, your morning routine could be contributing far more to the effects of climate change than the industries that produce the products you rely on.

Product Lifecycles

When you buy something from a store, you don’t really think about how it got there. You might consider how it was made, and if it was grown or produced locally, but you don’t do that out of economic concern for the most part. That choice has more to do with the economics or politics of something, buying it because it agrees with your sensibilities.

Increasingly, consumers are looking closely at the products they buy as well as the supply chains behind them, in order to measure the big picture impact of what that need is doing to the environment. Consumers are beginning to think more about recycling products, as opposed to throwing them away. Looking critically at the supply chain has all sorts of benefits, from putting pressure on manufacturers to provide cleaner alternatives for production or distribution, to raising consumer awareness of unsustainable practices.

Consumer Choice

One of the big drivers of consumer awareness is a rise in cost. As technology use increases, we have to look for clever ways to re-use our existing technology and improve the efficiency of our power grids. Thanks to solar, customers now have options. Services like Direct Energy rates help pinpoint power costs using historic data, so home owners have more information on trends in power consumption. New security and thermostat systems such as Nest contribute to better climate control with less wasted power.

Combined, this means consumers are on track to consume less power cooling their homes. All this while new forms of renewable energy become more affordable. In the next few decades, our reliance on fossil fuels will decrease as alternative methods to fill that baseline need become more affordable. Consumer choice is a major factor in these changes.

Take Action

There has been a great deal of attention lately on the use of Palm Oil in consumer products, and this is a great start to build consumer awareness. As we see with power, consumer choice is the ultimate deciding factor. As more companies spring up to recognize the need for alternative products with a lighter impact on the environment, consumer needs will change.

Organic is a good example. Those who live an organic lifestyle will tell you it’s not cheap. That’s actually part of the lifestyle. Higher priced products necessitate cuts in other areas. You start to think about your daily trip to Starbucks or your monthly spa session when you’re looking at the economics of buying organic food and supporting a sustainable lifestyle.

Everything starts with what you do in your home. You really can make a difference right now, according to the US Department of Energy. Replacing the bulbs in your house with LEDs will stack nationwide and by 2027, Americans will have reduced their consumption of electricity by the equivalent of 44 power plants. That’s putting more than a dent in consumption, that’s getting something done.


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