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thegoodbuyarticle1-1Large corporations and savvy brands see potential audiences in a new generation that want more out of the products they buy. So it’s a challenge to separate the companies that are just jumping on the trend by co-opting a language and using buzzwords to make you feel good about things like “doing your part for the environment” (which in most cases amounts to greenwashing) from the ones really making an impact. And yet, all signs point towards the fact that consumer focus on sustainability is here to stay. What’s good about the efforts being made behind countless brands—whether small or large, and spanning across the lifestyle spectrum—there is now a way for consumers to have alternative purchasing options to mainstream products that serve either an economical, environmental, or humanitarian support. What’s more exciting is many new businesses aren’t just using marketing tricks or integrating sustainability as a side benefit for their company, but rather, making true sustainability an integral part of a firm’s business model. This is a result of the growing demand from consumers for responsible brands, and perhaps a reaction itself from the more knowledge that we gain about our world. When we dig deeper into conscious consumerism, it demands we shift towards it as a united front—both on the consumer and business end.

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The Nuance of Conscious Consumerism
Consumerism promotes the buyer’s interests which garnered attention in the 1960s with pioneering activist Ralph Nader. Largely focused on the safety issues surrounding products and then building on a “consumer’s bill of rights,” this movement looked at individual consumer’s interests. In recent years, we’ve evolved to look beyond ourselves and think about consumption more holistically about the value of goods beyond one consumer alone, giving life to the term: conscious consumerism. It requires the buyer of goods to be self-aware, to ask difficult questions of themselves, like who made this and how were they treated? Or what is the environmental impact on this current generation and generations to come? How does this good or service affect my community? And other soul-searching questions. As a result, the nuanced ethos of conscious consumerism is to put others and their future before one’s own. Intrinsically, this feels right, fair, and good. But in reality, our mindsets and the powerful desire we all face to have something right now, is yet to be reconfigured.

Old Habits Die Hard
While conscious consumerism may be deemed as an obvious choice (to some), our old ways tend to puncture a few holes in this somewhat contemporary solution. We are challenged by price points and lack of proper positioning. American shopping habits are conditioned by superstores like Target and Walmart that provide a sea of everything one would ever need to operate life, available at lower costs—made cheaply in sweatshop factories invisible to most shoppers. Add to it the convenience of having anything you want just a click away, like on Amazon, which creates a difficult position for conscious brands to be seen as easy, convenient, and budget-friendly. It seems that we will have some retraining to do when it comes to the way we shop. Which begs the questions: What is the community we want to build worth to us? Are we ready and willing, as a united front, to change our ways? Are we willing to open our arms to alternative consumer outlets?

Perhaps if we had the means to do so.

The Solution

At Conscious, we feel responsible for providing our readers not just stimulating conversation starters, but also tangible solutions. Entre dans: The Good Buy.  

The Good Buy is a conscious consumer marketplace that is spearheading, as well as taking on mainstream shopping patterns by offering consumers the option to make environmentally impactful and ethically sound choices with their purchases in a one stop shop. It is their mission to make sustainable living easy by offering 360 lifestyle options. Additionally, through their partnership with UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee), a human rights non-profit organization, all proceeds from The Good Buy go towards funding social justice programs, multiplying the impact of customer’s purchases. So far they have accomplished building homes in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, monitoring water contamination from gold mining in Guatemala that resulted in providing safe drinking water to 18 villages, confronting LGBT oppression and violence in Africa, recovering unpaid wages for poultry workers in Arkansas, and more. And this is just the beginning!

The beauty behind The Good Buy is each item in their store is hand picked and individually screened with their rigorous criteria for ethically sourced goods. In their marketplace, you will discover a variety of fairly traded gifts and goods, from eco-fashion to fair-trade food, made by artisans around the globe using locally sourced materials and all-natural ingredients. The Good Buy works with over 30 partner organizations in order to provide customers with a broad array of sustainable living options. This means that they not only guide consumers to shop consciously, but they are also giving confidence to the brands that they work with who value workers’ rights, environmental justice and transparency as a staple in their core business model. Lifting up and supporting small businesses who are doing things right is essential to making more choices available—because they are in the most danger of being crushed by the weight of big box retailers in their race to the bottom in terms of labor rights and eco-awareness.

The Good Buy is not only setting the new trend of conscious living, but they are proving that it can be done well. You don’t have to sacrifice design and style to live sustainably. You can live a modern life and live thoughtfully about your impact on the world around you. We hope that this not only inspires you to make conscious shopping decisions but that you will also be encouraged and excited for how the future is unfolding.

Editor’s Picks

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01 | Metallic Vietas Bowl Candle

The refugee crisis is talked about daily in the news and it can seem hopeless for what individuals can do. Prosperity Candle resettles refugee women and their families in the U.S. who become master candlemakers and entrepreneurs. Each candle comes with a card describing the journey of the woman who made your candle, from simply surviving to truly thriving.

02 | To-Go Ware

Where do the plastic utensils go from your take out go? In a landfill, that’s where. A few might not seem like a big deal, but when added up, it’s a big problem for our earth. This bamboo cutlery set includes a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks in a recycled pouch with a carabiner to clip to your bag. When camping, traveling, or lunching outside, always have reusables handy.

03 | Handwoven Baskets

Baskets are versatile vessels—organizing supplies on a shelf, serving bread and fruit, or art pieces in their own right. By investing in artisans with a "market bundle" — which includes education, finance, materials, training, and market access — artisans and their families see a permanent gain in income. You can be a part of a poverty-reducing solution that is sustainable and helps restore dignity.

04 | Lily Leaf Necklace

Made with leaf-shaped, dyed tagua nut (sometimes referred to as “vegetable ivory” for its ability to be hand-carved but retain its strength and beauty), this necklace works well with both casual and dressy outfits.

05 | Clarita Brown Marbled Sunglasses

Made with coco-stained bamboo temples and recycled plastic, these polarized lenses will give your eyes the protection you need while protecting underserved communities. For each pair you buy, an eye exam and a pair of eyeglasses is donated to someone in need.

06 | Dusty Pink Beanie

Their Mitscoots line focuses on returning manufacturing to the U.S. and creating jobs during the supply chain process that employs homeless individuals in production and shipment by partnering with organizations who specialize in getting people off the streets and into steady employment. Even better, for every hat, gloves, scarf or pair of socks you buy, they donate one to those in need living on the streets or in shelters.

07 | Sustainable Wrapping Paper

Keep all the surprise in your wrapped gifts, but none of the waste. Choose from artisan designed tree-free papers made from cotton fabric scraps, upcycled saris, hemp twine, and more! Reusable and recyclable once the gifts are opened!

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FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.

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