Shopping responsably - How to become a conscious consumer


With the holidays way behind us and the cold winter dragging along, we are all looking for something to celebrate during this time of the year. When you think of February, it's impossible not to picture Valentine's Day.

For the last two weeks, brands have been targeting those that want to impress their partners. The ones that finally end up celebrating are expected to spend an average of 140€ in restaurants, retail, jewellery shops, flower stores, greeting cards or sweets.

But is real love dependent on a one-day demonstration? Loving profoundly does not justify breaking your budget. It's true that Valentine's Day creates excessive pressure on us to spend, but there are ways of joining in within our means. Things like cooking a themed meal at home in front of a beautifully decorated table or planning a day out with exhibitions, are alternatives to keep emotional crisis from our front door.

Some decent attention to detail will have the same effect as expensive gifts or dinner in a trendy restaurant that we cannot afford. Tomorrow life will continue, and that's why love is about every day efforts. Becoming conscious consumers, purchasing less and looking for quality rather than quantity are the keys to sustainable shopping.

What are we buying?

Sometimes, purchasing fashion on the cheap contributes to harming the environment and represents a waste of money on something that won’t last.

For example, on Valentine's day more than 40% of us expect an experienced-based gift, but on the other hand only some of us are prepared to offer one in exchange.

Whether you’re in your home city or travelling around the world here are some suggestions on how to shop smarter and in a more responsible way:

Reading labels - We recommend to try and develop the habit of reading labels before buying something. This will help to understand the fabric the product is made from, and the necessary care that’s needed for the item to last longer.

Longer life - Many brands purposefully launch new models that are born with an expiry date - items that are designed with a short life expectancy and sometimes fall to pieces so that we throw them away only to purchase new ones. This is known as planned obsolescence.

For example, are you buying a new digital camera? Consider purchasing a new digital camera every three or four years rather than every year as new models are announced. Lengthen the time frame for which your purchases serve you. Create a wish list of items and then purchase from that list only when an item has been on it for a year or more.

Be cautious of purchasing cheap items that don’t last and instead save up money to buy higher quality products that last longer.

Rock your basics - Wear neutral and straightforward designs for styling more looks with a lesser number of items.

Create a wish list that is prioritised with present needs, you’ll just buy things that are already on your list. If they are on sale, then that’s great, but don’t buy something that wasn’t on your list just because it is on sale.

Second-hand shops - The perfect places to fish for opportunities while you contribute to small businesses

Sustainable fashion - When you’re shopping, try to look for brands which reuse or recycle materials, and if you can go for organic, non-harmful ingredients much better!

Act responsibly - Even if you're not a shopping freak you can support fair trading by speaking about the power of ethical shopping.

Don’t increase your debt - Prepare a list of priorities and only look for items you can actually afford.

Quality products - They ensure durability and low maintenance. Avoid disposable things and go for long-wearing options.

Consider purchasing technology that has a longer shelf life, made with durable materials that are preferably recyclable.

Emotional shopping - Often going to stores and purchasing compulsively can make you feel better. But does more stuff really equal more happiness? Try cleaning out your home for a whole day, and you will soon realise that it's quite the opposite. A house with less junk feels much happier and is also easier to maintain.

Having fewer things will make you appreciate the space and most important: the stuff you do enjoy. Limit your living area to the things you really love and care about.

When you start ruminating about shopping think about boosting your emotions in another way. How about hitting the gym while you listen to relaxing music?

Planned obsolescence

Known for deliberately designing products not to last, this corporate strategy to turn one-time customers into repeat buyers is becoming a significant problem for those willing to consume responsibly.

It's a shame that products are no longer expected to last for a long time in many cases. Shortening the item’s life is a guarantee for any company that wants thousands of returning customers.

What will smartphones look like in five years? New software renders old phones obsolete. That's how the companies make us buy new editions all the time and lock us into their system guaranteeing their financial success.

While many EU countries are beginning to specifically legislate over planned obsolescence France is ahead of the trend, having made this practice illegal in 2015. Retailers must inform customers whether replacement parts of their purchases are available.

According to French law, a company that deliberately shortens the life of its products can be fined with five per cent of its annual sales and representatives could face up to 2 years in jail.

Here are some examples of planned obsolescence:

Technology - Apple has admitted that they have slowed down the performance of older iPhones to be able to extend the life of the devices. Epson engineers are also being investigated in France for these kinds of procedures.

Other companies are conditioning the expiry of their products by programming their end of life or setting up quality defects in some components.

Printers - After a few impressions, some inkjet printers start to suffer limitations that require frequent cartridge changes before they are empty.

Textile - DuPont reduced the durability of their Nylon stockings by amending their original models (manufactured in 1940 with fragile materials) to increase their sales.

Light bulbs - Another famous case was when back in 1924 the world's major manufacturers of incandescent bulbs were believed to have designed a life cycle on light bulbs to not exceed 1,000 hours.

However you feel about this, here are a few strategies to extend the life of your belongings without having to depend on third parties:

Repair - If something doesn't work correctly but still has a chance to perform again, why not give it an opportunity? Bring back the right to repair into law.

Reuse - Many of your belongings are no longer good at serving their original purpose, but they can become something else. Try turning an extra phone into a security camera.

Also, a smartphone doesn’t require updates to serve as a sound recorder, remote control, or any number of creative uses.

Save money and reduce waste - Phone chargers often outlive the phones they come with. That’s because most of them adopted the MicroUSB standard years ago, and they’re still useful today. An old phone charger can charge everything from your current phone to your Bluetooth speaker or wireless gamepad.

Practice Do Without - Very few things are absolute essentials. Depending on your lifestyle, you can maybe go without a smartphone, a car or a TV. You can also enjoy life while you're reading a book, playing cards with some friends or watching a movie at your nearest cinema. Sometimes a do without is an excellent way of being a responsible consumer.

If you are looking forward to the warmth, you can already plan your outfits with the elegant range of products offered by Porto Brazil.

Our clothes are easily combined throughout the year so take advantage and grab one of our spectacular dresses or a stunning jumpsuits to rock with your favourite accessories. We offer 100% sustainable fashion.

Remember that you don´t need to wait until summer to make the most of your wardrobe. Combine your favourite garments with our best beachwear!

Whatever you end up doing, remember to be aware that practising responsible shopping doesn't mean behaving in a fundamentally different way, just  being smarter when making purchasing decisions.

Try putting some of these things into practice and you will soon appreciate results.

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