We spend more than we have: how can we become conscious customers and contribute to the preservation of the Earth’s natural resources?


Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and waste—the world is in the midst of a triple crisis and is not heading towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN emphasizes in its recently published Global Resources Outlook 2024 report. This is mainly because the global economy, driven by urbanization, industrialization, and a growing population, consumes more natural resources than there are available. Predictions indicate that this consumption will increase by 60% from 2020 to 2060.

It is also alarming that high-income countries use six times more materials than low-income countries and are responsible for ten times more climate impact per capita. The report notes that these material inequalities must be considered when implementing sustainability initiatives. For example, in countries with high consumption levels, the report emphasizes the need to focus on reducing resource and material consumption and increasing efficiency. This could potentially reduce global resource usage by 30% in the future. How to achieve this is found below.

Become a conscious consumer

Throughout history, people have always “consumed” what they needed to live, but in the last fifty years, this consumption, known as consumerism, has grown to such an extent that it has earned a negative connotation. And not without reason. Unfortunately, excessive consumption, aimed at boosting the economy, is not sustainable in the long run.

Aside from environmental issues, consumerism leads to social and economic difficulties. For example, it increases debt levels, negatively impacts people’s mental health, leads to worker exploitation, deepens the gap between the rich and the poor, and so on.

To prevent these and other negative consequences of consumerism, buyers should turn to conscious consumption. This involves more thoughtful consideration of how our consumer choices affect the environment and society. As such a consumer, we should choose companies that prioritize sustainability, fair labor practices, and social responsibility. Interestingly, such purchasing habits will not only change consumers but also companies. Indeed, corporate sustainability reporting has tripled from 2016 to 2023, reports the UN.

Here are six ways to become a more conscious consumer:

1. Reduce your consumption

In today’s world, it is not excessively difficult or expensive to constantly buy new clothes, shoes, home decorations, toys, and other material stuff. However, this does not mean we should always do so. Try to buy only when you truly need something and choose items that will last. Opt for quality over quantity to make your products last longer and reduce your demand for new items. Not only will you help preserve the environment, but you will also help yourself, as it is known that an excess of items in the home can negatively impact mental health.

2. Research brands and beware of greenwashing

For many (if not most) people, the price of a product is the most important factor when buying. However, for a conscious consumer, this should not be such an important factor. Of course, we do not recommend buying something beyond your financial means, but try to choose products and brands that operate sustainably. This is usually indicated by various labels on products, information on the company’s website, online reviews, and media news. Sustainable brands strive to operate transparently, use biodegradable or recyclable materials, have an ethical business approach, and consider the impact of their business processes on the Earth’s ecosystem. However, beware of greenwashing, a marketing tactic companies use to make their product appear more environmentally friendly than it really is. Not every “green” label or piece of information is genuinely “green.”

3. Avoid single-use plastic

Did you know that about half of the world’s annual plastic production is used for single-use purposes? Plastic waste pollution has become a major global problem, so it is important to use it as little as possible. Instead of plastic bags, use cloth bags, replace plastic containers with glass or metal ones, avoid online shopping that comes with a lot of unnecessary plastic packaging, and so on.

Find tips for a plastic-free life HERE.

4. Repair or repurpose items

It’s no secret that many people constantly and thoughtlessly buy things to feel happy, but this happiness is short-lived because it is not good for the environment and is disastrous for the personal budget. Therefore, before you throw away a torn shirt, pick up a needle and thread and fix it, and if you don’t know how, learn at our sewing, patching, and creative activities workshop – ŠIZIKA. Besides repairing, think about whether you can give some items a new life and repurpose them into something else. For example, if a torn shirt is beyond repair, use it to make a doll’s dress, use it for cleaning, or do something else.

5. Choose the local

Instead of getting food from large retail chains, visit the local market; the same applies to restaurants and stores of various products and services. This way, you will support the local economy and help build a more diverse, fair, and sustainable economy in your community or country. You will also reduce your carbon footprint because many items we order online or buy in large stores come from thousands of kilometers away. And, as we know, air travel uses tons of fossil fuels and creates enormous amounts of harmful emissions.

6. Buy second-hand

The current consumer economy is mainly linear, meaning resources are used to create items which, when used up or discarded, become waste. A circular economy is a much better solution because it is based on the idea of reusing resources instead of consuming and discarding them. A true example of such an economy is buying or exchanging second-hand items. These can include devices, books, clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, and decorations—items that won’t prematurely end up in the trash because of you. Thus, your consumption does not have to create greater production. With this in mind, every first Tuesday of the month, we organize a Swap Fair at the Zone Club premises (Jerina 1, Split). Come, bring well-preserved items you no longer need, and find something interesting for yourself and your loved ones!


In conclusion, remember that by practicing the habits mentioned above, you will not only reduce your impact on the environment and waste accumulation but also put pressure on brands that still have unsustainable business practices. Starting today, act by first considering how your individual behavior affects larger communities, the environment, and ultimately the entire planet.