Individually and collectively we have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the planet. If we begin each buying decision with curiosity, we shift the values of our demands, which influences the production of useless products and drives innovation across industries. We, as consumers, are a vital part of the solution.
Curiosity means asking questions, and as far as we know, there isn’t a perfect resource out there that answers all the questions that a little curiosity might raise. That’s part of this journey, exploring what that resource looks like and figuring out how to build it. But we also don’t want to leave our followers hanging with questions like, “Now what”??
Here are some suggestions for ways that you can fold more curiosity into the way you consume- what actions you can take, where you can find more information, and ideas about how your curiosity can help reduce the negative impact we have on the planet.
Share & Connect
Have your things had some amazing adventures with you? They could be simple little moments too- that mug you always pull out when sharing a coffee with a special friend, that sweater you were wearing when your child took its first steps, the water bottle that traveled with you across the country.
Our things carry with them the stories of our lives, they share in our experiences with us. They act like little memory capsules, and once you begin to investigate the curious lives of your things, we bet you’ll have some stories to tell!
If you’ve got a story, head over to our Tumblr page and post a photo of something that has shared an adventure with you.
Have you heard about The Story of Stuff Project? If not, you’ll find a bunch of their resources below. If you have, and you’ve been inspired to consume less stuff (after all, the more you know the less you need!), you can share your story with others here!
Participate & Take Action
A lot of the conscious consumerism rhetoric is focused heavily on buying certified products. We want to talk about bigger solutions, solutions beyond buying more stuff and instead tied to the way we think about the things we consume. We need to reimagine our entire global economy and move toward closed loop systems that allow economies and communities to thrive without destroying ecosystems and threatening limited resources.
We love the Story of Stuff, for years it was a helpful way that Greta explained her work to friends and family. We’ve participated in the Citizen Muscle Bootcamp and this project was actually selected for their Community Launchpad earlier this year. Over the years they’ve created a lot of great resources, and when we think about “big picture” ideas, their stories about change and solutions definitely resonate:
TakePart media is also a great resource because it helps us stay informed about news and causes that matter to us. There are a few Pledges that support the creed of the Curious Consumer and we would encourage everyone to head over and learn more about them!
Learn & Explore
In order to work toward solutions that are practical, we need to have a basic understanding of how the system currently works. Here are some simple, fun resources to start with as you get a better understanding of where the things we buy come from:
There are also some great documentaries that have been released in recent years covering these important issues of our current production, consumption and disposal systems. We recommend checking out:
The True Cost: This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world.
REUSE! Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet: This film isn’t about our waste problem. It’s about solutions. And they are everywhere! Alex Eaves travels cross-country to the 48 contiguous U.S. states. On his journey, he finds endless reuse solutions for our waste problem that are not only sustainable, but many of which are easy and fun! And he learns just how reuse truly benefits “people, planet, and wallet.”
If you’re looking for resources about what the things listed on ingredients labels mean, check out the many resources provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Here are some helpful go-to-guides:
The supply chain is a complicated system that is made up of complex relationships between brands and retailers, vendors and agents, factories and raw materials suppliers. It is not easy for a company selling a product to fix everything overnight. It takes time, it takes commitment, but most importantly it takes transparency.
Believe it or not, a lot of companies are working hard to understand the human rights conditions and environmental impact of the products they sell. We still have a long way to go, and nobody’s perfect, but it’s important to understand how brands and retailers are stepping up to improve working conditions and reduce negative environmental impacts.
Over the years several groups have begun to evaluate the information that companies share publicly about their efforts to clean up their supply chains. Here are a few helpful resources that consolidate this information in an easy way:
Good Guide scientifically ranks products and companies based on their environmental, health, and social performance.
Climate Counts is a collaborative effort to bring consumers and companies together to address solutions around global climate change. They use the CDP company scoring data to rate the world’s largest companies on their commitment to addressing climate change.
KnowtheChain is a helpful resource to learn about the issues of forced labor and better understand what efforts companies are taking to combat it in their supply chains. Founded by Humanity United in 2013, KnowTheChain was initially created to encourage greater corporate understanding of the California Supply Chain Transparency Act (SB 657)–a groundbreaking law requiringcompanies to disclose their efforts to address forced labor abuses in their supply chains.
It’s easy to add a little curiosity to our buying practices by asking a few questions. We all consume no matter what role we are playing- shopper, employee, business owner, citizen. That means we all have an opportunity to use our voices, in all aspects of our life!
Here are a few simple ways you can initiate the conversation:
- Before You Buy:
- Do I know what is this thing made of?
- Do I know where these materials come from?
- Why do I need this thing?
- After You Buy:
- How can I make this thing last longer?
- How does this thing make my life better?
- What has this thing experienced with me?
- Before You Dispose:
- What other purpose can it serve?
- Where will this thing go?
- Who else can use this thing?
Ask the Brands and Retailers…
Jump on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or in the store and ask for more information-
- Before You Buy:
- What materials are in this thing?
- Where do these materials come from?
- Who made this thing?
- What efforts to do you take to evaluate the working conditions and environmental impact of the production of this thing?
- After You Buy:
- How can I make this thing last as long as possible?
- How can I repair this thing?
- Before You Dispose:
- Does the brand have a take-back recycling program?
- Can any of the materials of this thing be recycled?
- Can this thing, or any of its parts be up-cycled?
- How can I keep this thing out of a landfill?
Ask your company…
This conversation doesn’t belong outside of the companies that make the things we buy- as employees and business owners we can also have a positive impact by bringing more curiosity into the workplace. If your company, or the company you work for, makes, buys and/or sells anything at all, you too can begin the conversation!
- Where are our products made?
- What materials are our products made from?
- What purpose do our products serve?
- What do we know about the working conditions of the people who make our products? What don’t we know?
- Will our product eventually end up in a landfill?
- Can we offer our customers a way to recycle or up-cycle our product when they no longer want/need it?
This is a process of re-imagination, it’s fresh paint thrown on a blank canvas, it may seem like a small drop in a big bucket, but with time and volume these actions can grow into a powerful wave of change. Let’s come together and make waves!