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6 Ways to Be a More Conscientious Consumer

You can protect the planet with purchasing power and support a more sustainable future while reducing your own environmental impact.

6 Ways to Be a More Conscientious Consumer

You can protect the planet with purchasing power and support a more sustainable future while reducing your own environmental impact.

Published 10-20-20

Submitted by HP Inc.

HP Inc. Garage Blog

As the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, consumers are paying close attention to how and where they spend their money. Beyond shopping for health and wellness and stocking up on essentials, many are equipping themselves for more working, learning, and entertainment at home — consumer technology purchases have increased by 23%, jigsaw puzzle sales are up 370%, and there’s been a run on baking and gardening supplies. 

At the same time, there’s a growing awareness of how consumers’ choices impact not only their own lives, but the world around them. In a recent study by the global management consulting firm Kearney, about half of the people surveyed said the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment and more likely to buy environmentally friendly products.

But even the most conscientious consumers can find it difficult to make choices that live up to their commitment.

“Every purchasing decision is an opportunity to make an impact,” says Ellen Jackowski, HP’s chief sustainability and social impact officer. “But for shoppers, it can be a challenge to distinguish between companies that are taking authentic action and those who are marketing sustainability as simply the latest trend.”

So how can you be sure you’re making a responsible choice when you’re choosing what to buy? Here are a few ways to get started. 

Do your homework

Finding brands that are dedicated to sustainability requires more than reading labels — you may have to do some digging. Jackowski suggests looking for companies using or transitioning to 100% renewable energy, implementing effective energy and water-saving practices, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste. And seek out companies that demonstrate a larger commitment by partnering with independent organizations like the World Wildlife Fund or NextWave Plastics on cross-industry sustainability initiatives. 

Go beyond a company’s website and social media to find specific information about its goals and progress toward achieving them. One place to look is a company’s annual sustainability report — HP released its 2019 Sustainable Impact Report last week. Look for concrete information about how a company sources raw materials, whether it works directly with small farmers or people in local communities where it operates, and how it’s making its operations as efficient as possible. “Look at how the company manages its products before, during, and after the sale,” says Jackowski. “A responsible brand will account for the entire lifecycle of its products.”

Check for credentials 

You’ve likely encountered products marketed as “natural” or “green” or “sustainable” — but these buzzwords don’t really tell you much. For clarity, look for eco-label certifications, which come from credible, independent organizations to identify products and brands that are taking meaningful steps to be more sustainable.

Next time you’re shopping for groceries, check for labels like Rain Forest AllianceFair TradeUSDA Organic, and the gold star standard: Demeter Biodynamic. For non-food products, keep an eye out for labels including TRUE Zero WasteFSC Certified (Forest Stewardship Council) (most of HP’s printer paper is FSC certified), B CorpENERGY STAREPEATBlue AngelLEED, and Cradle to Cradle. Check the Eco Label Index directory for credible certifications across 25 industries.

Judge a product by its packaging

The U.S. alone produces 80 million tons of packaging waste per year, but this year, a surge in online shopping due to the global pandemic caused an increase in shipped products.

Read the full piece on HP Inc's Garage Blog

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HP Inc.

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