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Conscious Consumerism Is Here to Stay as Shoppers Vote With Their Dollars

Prepare to hear the words "conscious consumerism" a lot more in 2022. Here's why the trend is here to stay—and how it's making an impact.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

The consumer model is shifting gears. We're moving away from unsustainable and wasteful buying practices, and we're moving toward conscious consumerism—a consumer model representing consumption habits that have a more positive social and environmental impact.

A 2021 Lending Tree report found 55% of consumers are willing to spend more on environmentally-friendly products. And according to a GreenPrint study, over 77% of Americans are concerned with the environmental impact of their products. About 73% of Americans consider environmental friendliness as a factor when shopping.

In other words, the people have spoken, and they're ready to shop with the planet in mind. And Laura Alexander Wittig, Brightly's founder and CEO, says that's what Brightly is here for—to help empower consumers to lead more ethical and sustainable lifestyles.

"Brightly came about to serve this need," Wittig says. "People were constantly asking us on social media for more tips on how to live ethically and how to shop sustainably because they were becoming more and more conscious. Brightly was founded to meet those needs. We're really big into nonjudgmental content, we're really trying to build a holistic platform that serves people throughout any parts of their journey."

Conscious consumerism gives rise to the phenomenon of voting with your dollars. What does this mean? It's all about sending a message to major industries. When we put our money toward ethically and sustainably-made products, we're telling corporations there's a demand for these products.

And voting with your dollars can happen across industries. It means swapping a pick from a fast fashion brand for something thrifted or from a sustainable company. It means buying products that have Fair Trade certifications and ethical labels. Even when you're shopping at Target or Walmart, you could be making more eco-conscious decisions that benefit the environment—and the people, too.

Plus, conscious consumerism isn't just about shopping. It's also about buying only what you need and investing in sustainable, long-lasting swaps that have a positive impact and lead to environmental change.

Fortunately, consumers don't have to go out of their way to find better products to invest in. Between the Brightly Shop, Good Together podcast, Scouts community, and daily eco-news on Brightly.eco, Brightly is an expanding hub for planet-based consumption and eco-friendly living.

When it comes to furniture, companies are moving away from a fast furniture model of production. Like H&M, Ikea is also trying to create a circular economy through its buy-back program that resells preowned furniture.

We're also seeing other industries make positive changes. Starbucks has plans to phase out single-use cups to cut back on waste. The coffee chain also has plans to cut back on carbon emissions from dairy production. Fast food chains are selling more plant-based options, and major companies like Amazon are pushing for renewable energy. This is only the start.

"We're absolutely going to see more brands step up and make public commitments," Wittig says. "Whether we're talking about giveback programs, which they've been doing for a long time, or—what I'd like to see—brands stepping up and saying, 'We're going to be more transparent about our supply chains. We're going to commit to making more of our products using sustainable materials.'"

All in all, conscious consumerism has already left its mark across the board—but we can't stop now.