A conscious consumer is defined as an active member of the economy who considers the environmental, social and ecological impact of their purchasing choices. To be a more conscious consumer, one must simply have the intent to preserve the environment.
In a world of constant change where technology and information reign, it is now possible for children to consume information far more quickly than their parents could. Armed with all the tools required to learn best practices early on in their life, it is parents who have the primary role of introducing to children the importance of sustainability and of showing how they can, in turn, work toward preserving the environment.
Look for answers together
Children are curious creatures. They might not always ask direct questions, they are observing (and absorbing) everything that’s happening around them. With guidance and the sharing of knowledge, parents can help their kids see that they have the ability to make a positive difference in the world.
Children don’t really understand where the things they love come from. Educating them about what they eat, wear and play with can help develop their critical thinking, shaping their purchasing habits and how they question the sustainability claims of brands in the future. Companies like Kapes, the homegrown sustainable school uniform brand, can support this with a mission to empower children to become change-makers. This can happen when children are more connected to the things they wear, the people who make them and the places where they are made.
Create relevant experiences
Advocating universal change isn’t done by just one person; it has to involve everyone. It can start with parents at home passing on sustainable practices to their children. It is important to lead by example and let them know that their voice is heard.
For children to become conscious consumers, they need role models early on to foster a genuine concern for the environment and cultivate sustainable habits in the home and at school. From recycling to finding energy-saving appliances to buying sustainable clothes, these are just a few patterns that would go a long way in motivating children to feel responsible for safeguarding the environment.
Taking school uniforms as an example, we have only recently begun seeing increased awareness of their impact on the environment, even though they are what children wear most of all from the age of five to 18. Much like retail and fast fashion in general, a school uniform not only contributes to damaging our ecosystem but more importantly, it contains dangerous chemicals risking the wellbeing of children and the people who make those uniforms.
That said, brands have a moral obligation to keep sustainability at the forefront of their goals and to share reliable information about their products. Kapes takes children and parents through the whole process involved in producing each uniform, to educate them on the importance of sustainable practices.
Establish good habits
During a child’s early years, it’s imperative to focus on building interest in ecological topics and green living. With time, they are bound to become more mindful of their consumption habits.
Encourage children to grow closer to nature. Take them on long walks, hikes, climbing; all those activities will help them associate the environment with happy moments. When you successfully build an emotional connection between children and nature, they will intuitively become more susceptible to environmental issues and more likely to adopt more sustainable practices and take up healthier habits when they’re older, such as riding a bike instead of driving a car.
It is through teaching and leadership that parents can help kids harness their consumer power and become the eco-warriors we need them to be. These teachings will become their normal; the eco-friendly habits they learn and the environmentally conscious choices they see will shape them into the future of environmental sustainability.
- Matthew Benjamin, is founder and CEO of Kapes, the homegrown sustainable school uniforms brand, launched in the UAE in September 2020.