We live in a connected, consumer-driven, capitalist world. Ultimately, we are all consumers, but we have a choice about what kind of consumer we want to be. We have a choice about what we buy and how well we take care of our possessions or how quickly we dispose of them. The things we buy have the potential to harm the environment, both during production and in transit and disposal.

You have the choice to become an environmentally conscious consumer. It’s in our hands what kind of consumer we want to be. Environmentally conscious consumers think about the environmental impact of their purchases and whether they need to buy anything at all.

“If it can’t be reduced, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refurbished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be curtailed, redesigned or taken out of production. – Peter Seeger

You’ve probably heard of the 5Rs: discard, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. By now, they’ve become the 7Rs! If you work through them all, you’re well on your way to living a life of minimal impact. Some things may still end up in the trash, but if that’s unavoidable, do it responsibly and recycle or compost what you can.

1. RETHINK: Sit back and think about what kind of consumer you want to be and what that means for the environment. Which companies are very active in green-washing their operations? Which companies put environmental protection ahead of their profits

2. REFUSE: Think before you buy, and be prepared not to buy at all. If you only use an item once in a while, can you borrow it from a neighbor, friend, or sharing platform? If you use it more often, can you buy it used on a secondhand platform like Ricardo.ch, Tutti.ch or Marketplace? Environmentally conscious consumers buy less and buy products that are least harmful to the environment, such as items that are already on the planet, and give them a second life.

3. REDUCE: Buy fewer, but high quality products that have little or no packaging and last a long time. Items you no longer need or rarely use can either be donated to those in need, sold, or made available to others on sharing platforms.

4. RE-USE: Upcycle something instead of throwing it away. Examples: Glass jars can be used to store dry goods, old calendar pages serve as homemade envelopes, old toothbrushes are used to clean hard-to-reach places, empty toothpaste tubes are used as funnels.

5. RE-GIFT: When you re-gift something, you are giving someone a gift that you received from someone else and probably didn’t need. Don’t feel guilty about re-gifting! It’s a good thing to pass the gift on to someone who will enjoy it more than you. You do have to follow this etiquette, though: The gift is brand new and in its original packaging. You’re sure the gift will please the recipient. However, don’t pass on handmade gifts that others have made for you.

6. RECYCLE: Put things back into the waste stream to be used for something else. Glass is used for road construction, plastic is melted down to make new products. Metal cans are reused to make new metal cans. Batteries and expired pharmaceutical products must be disposed of in appropriate recycling sites.

7. ROT: Compost your own organic waste or participate in an organic waste composting program. Organic waste that we compost is used to fertilize our gardens or fields or is converted into biogas.

For more inspiration and insight, check out our online Resources.