10 Ways to Be a Conscious Consumer for Health, Society & the Planet

Learn the top 10 ways to be a conscious consumer by considering the health effects, and environmental and social impacts of products and companies before making the decision to buy.

How to be a Conscious Consumer

Let’s say you need a new set of cookware, or a new dress for a party, or even just a new tube of toothpaste or bag of coffee beans.

How do you decide what brand to buy? 

You might be influenced by an advertisement or a recommendation from a friend. Maybe you simply buy the same brand every time because your mom used it or it’s the only brand you’ve ever tried and the easiest route is to stick with the same thing.

But more and more of us are pausing before we buy. We’ve heard that out-of-control consumerism is having some negative effects on the planet. We know that product safety is not well-regulated and that companies don’t always have our health and safety in mind. We’re wary of the negative impacts of factories and farming practices on society and the environment.

We want to change our buying habits, but where do we start?

We start by simply being more conscious of the purchase decisions we make.


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What is a Conscious Consumer?

The concept of conscious consumerism is not new and if you look around the web, you’ll find a few different definitions.

Here’s how I view it: A conscious consumer is someone who considers the health effects, and the environmental and social impacts of a product before making a decision on what to buy. 

A conscious consumer thinks before they buy. They are engaged in the purchase decision and will ask a few questions before buying:

  • Is this safe and healthy for me and my family?
  • Is it harming the planet in any way?
  • What is the impact on society?

A conscious consumer makes deliberate, informed choices instead of mindlessly buying things they think they need.

A conscious consumer demands transparency and authenticity from brands and will take a pass on products that don’t match their values.

A conscious consumer is confident because they have done their research and figured out the best choices for their family. 

A conscious consumer wants to be part of the solution, not the problem.

It’s my guess that most of you who come to this blog, are already conscious consumers in one way or another. Maybe you’ve swapped out some toxic cleaners for safer cleaning brands or started using reusable containers instead of plastic wrap. Perhaps you have invested in some sustainable clothing instead of fast fashion, or switched to other natural, non-toxic products.  

HIGH FIVE for everything you’ve done so far to be more mindful of the impacts of the products you buy! Let’s see what else you could do to become a more socially conscious consumer….

woman with laptop - conscious consumers

How to be a Conscious Consumer

OK first of all, being a conscious consumer is NOT about perfection. There’s no exact road map to follow. There’s not a test to pass. If you’ve been following my blog you know I’m all about mindful moderation and baby steps and doing what works for YOU! 

Ultimately, being a conscious consumer is about focusing on the values that matter most to you, educating yourself, and doing your best given your personal constraints of time and money. 

My goal is to help you be the most mindful consumer you can be! Here are my top 10 suggestions for how to be a socially conscious, sustainable consumer:

1.) Do Some Homework – Spend some time learning about the products you buy.

  • Visit brand websites and read the About Us section and dig into the information about how products are made.
  • Use trusted sources like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to learn about the health & environmental impacts of products. 
  • Read blogs like Mindful Momma (A shameless plug – but seriously check out my product guides because they tell you what NOT to buy as well as better brands to look for.) 

2.) Understand Ingredients – No, you do not need to be a chemist, but be aware of the top ingredients and materials that have been shown to be harmful to humans and the planet. There is a lot to learn on this subject, but the top categories are:

  • Hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates, bisphenols and flame retardants that are in everything from personal care products to plastics to home products.
  • Perfluorinated compounds found in non-stick cookware and food packaging that are likely carcinogenic. 
  • Pesticides like glyphosate and others linked to cancer.
  • Heavy metals that are neurotoxins that can effect brain development.

Yes, these dangerous chemicals are legally allowed to be in products. It’s the wild west out there so the more informed you are, the better. 

3.) Read Labels – Start reading product labels and ingredient lists like a hawk. Be aware that many terms like “natural” and “safe” are unregulated and essentially mean nothing. Look for full ingredient lists on cleaning products (not required by law – but the more transparent a company is, the better.) Steer clear of the worst chemicals in beauty products and the worst additives and preservatives in food. 


4.) Look for Certifications – When a product is certified by a trusted organization, it means you can be confident it has met strict guidelines for safety, environmental or social concerns. Examples of trustworthy certifications include USDA Organic Certified for food, Made Safe for personal care and home products, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for textiles, and Fair Trade Certified for food and clothing. 

5.) Check Ratings –  If possible, check a product’s rating on trusted apps and websites. The EWG has a database for personal care products called Skin Deep and the Guide to Healthy Cleaning for cleaning products. The Think Dirty app for personal care is also popular. For food, check out EWG’s Food Scores and the Dirty Dozen

woman holding bag - conscious consumer

RELATED: Good Reasons to Buy Natural, Non-Toxic Products

6.) Ask Questions – Question claims made by companies (What do you mean it’s “all natural”??) and ask questions about products before you buy (What exactly is in that “fragrance” listed on the label?) Use email or social media to contact companies, or talk to employees at stores and growers at a farmer’s market. There is so much to learn by asking questions!

7.) Consider the Environment – Make sure you understand the environmental impacts of products throughout the entire life cycle. This includes the materials used, the manufacturing process, the packaging, the transportation and the disposal of the product at the end of its life. The company website is a good place to look for this type of information but you may have to ask questions to get the full story. 

Women-shopping bags

8.) Examine Company Practices – Take time to consider the social impacts of a company and the manufacturing process of the products. Do do they give back to the community in any way? Are they a Certified B Corporation? Are the factories ethical? Do they follow Fair Trade practices that ensure a living wage and safe conditions for workers? 

9.) Think Before You Buy – Instead of mindlessly shopping and buying everything you think you need immediately, wait before you buy and ask a few questions:

  • Do I really need it? Learn how to buy less and still be satisfied
  • Can I rent or borrow it?
  • Is there a used or pre-loved option available? 
  • Is there a safer, eco-friendly alternative?

10.) Explain to Others – Help others in your life understand the choices you make for health & the planet, and help them become conscious consumers too.

To be honest, what I’ve covered here is just the tip of the iceberg. As you get digging, you’ll probably find you have more questions, but that’s wonderful because asking questions is such an important part of being a conscious consumer. It’s a journey!

In what ways have you become a conscious consumer? Join the conversation in the comments!

green & healthy wishes Micaela signature


  1. Great tips. I’ve now started looking at brands with lifetime or long term guarantees and replaceable parts. Managed to find storage containers, drink bottles, saucepans and more that if one part is lost or broken, we can just but that bit instead of a whole new item. There is so much to consider, including where items are made and if they are truly ethical.

    1. Yes, guarantees and replacement parts are such great benefits! Love being able to keep a product for a lifetime!

  2. I do a lot more research before I buy anything nowadays. I’m not always a fan of how much time we all spend on the Internet, but in this case I think all the information available on the web about different companies is actually a plus. I can read a lot more about what kind of eco-friendly policies companies do (or don’t) have and also get reviews from other consumers.
    I really like using websites like the EWG (as you mentioned). Label reading get old really quickly (even though it’s important!), so it’s nice to be able to go and search for a product and have the research already done for me.
    I’ve heard of new apps coming out, like the Think Dirty app, that can scan products and give them a ‘green’ rating, but I haven’t actually tried any of them yet.
    My favorite way of being a conscious consumer is trying to buy locally and from small business who are committed to sustainability.

    1. Sounds like you are doing so many great things already Karen! Buying locally is wonderful! The Think Dirty app is has been around for a long time actually. One thing I notice with the apps and EWG is they don’t always have the latest products on file – so that can be challenging. It helps to find brands you can trust so you don’t have to look up all the ingredients every time!

  3. This is a great mindset shift. I know I am constantly working on improving my approach to shopping on a regular basis. I feel like taking the time to plan out shopping and being incredibly intentional about my purchases has helped. I’m looking forward to learning more and doing more research before purchasing an item. This is really great information.

    1. Thanks Amanda! Yes planning and being intentional is a great goal!

  4. This is great. Making buying decisions when you’re trying to just do the right thing, can be so overwhelming. I appreciate the break down of different things to think of to make the decision easier.

  5. These were all wonderful tips, thank you! I have been trying to become more eco-friendly lately and have made lots of changes in my journey, but still have so much more that I can do! Small changes over time really do wonders in the long run 🙂

  6. Great information! These are excellent ways to help motivate others but also do so gently. It’s such weird territory because I feel like people think I’m judging them or something, but we can lead by example, drama free! Thank you!

  7. I am mainly struggling to change my habits when it comes to food. And I am not only talking about eating a lot of meat and avocados. But if you actually go home and analyze the amount of trash you bring home when you either order take-away or take take-away from a restaurant: plastic cutlery, plastic bag, plastic boxes and napkins you will never use.

    PS! Nice website. I thought I had found “all” websites about sustainability/environment online, but apparently not. Keep it going! 🙂

    1. Yes the waste from take out is awful! Not that you should never do it, but being mindful is a great start.

  8. These are all great tips! I really love #9 and I’ve found that if I wait to make a purchase, many times I realize that I don’t actually need to make the purchase and that we can do without. Helping the planet AND our budget 🙂

    1. glad you found it helpful! Yes, it’s always great to realize you don’t need something after all!

  9. Neha @ Everything Bags Inc. says:

    Great tips! I always look up brands and their products on the internet before buying. Force of habit. I cannot buy anything from a brand I know nothing about. From the ingredients used to disposal practices, I dig into everything. But, I have reached this far by learning from mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. It’s all about making ethical choices.

  10. Steele Honda says:

    I like appreciate your tip to spend some time learning about the products you buy to help be a better conscious consumer. I think that it would be smart to look at the shops you buy from as well and to see if they are a brand that cares about conscious consumers because I think that would help you narrow down where to shop from. I think that shops and consumers working together could really help make sure that everybody becomes more conscious about their products and what they buy.

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