How To Be A Conscious Consumer in 2019

By Melena Gurganus
Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Gunhee Park, the founder of Populum, is determined to help people make conscious decisions for the products they buy. It’s what motivated him to start his own company, and it continues to fuel his fire for sharing the importance of thoughtfully sourced and environmentally friendly products. He believes consumers should strive to be more conscientious in their everyday shopping habits, and encourages everyone to look for quality goods that come from a quality source anytime they make a purchase.

But what does it actually mean to be a conscious consumer in 2019?

When walking down the aisle in your local grocery store, you’ve probably come across many products boasting their organic origins or plant-based ingredients. Various terms like non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, all-natural, and other monikers can make it difficult to discern exactly what makes a product worthwhile. And with all of these confusing labels floating around, the average person may not know what to look for when trying to be a conscious consumer.

Should you narrow down your choices based on the quality of the ingredients, where they are sourced from, or the manufacturing process?

All of the above.

There are many different factors that go into creating a thoughtful product, although it’s impossible to pinpoint one specific quality to signify a reliable purchase. According to Gunhee, here are some of the more important aspects to consider when trying to shop consciously in 2019.  

Organic Products—Are they really better?

Food

Most people are familiar with the hype surrounding organic foods, but what exactly makes these products better than their inorganic counterparts? For starters, organically grown produce contains fewer pesticides and is more environmentally sustainable. Organic fruits and vegetables also tend to be fresher since they contain no additional preservatives.

Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are also seen as a more natural source of protein intake, considering they come from animals who have not been given any growth hormones or antibiotics.

Tip: Look for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal when searching for truly organic foods.

Beauty

Body care and cosmetic products are another notable market where organic labels can play a meaningful role, especially as people seek out new skin-benefiting nutrients to incorporate into their daily routines. Organic cosmetics get their name from the ingredients they contain, which are grown in organic conditions. This also makes these beauty products more environmentally friendly to produce because they decrease the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, which all have destructive effects on our water, soil, and essential ecosystems.

Tip: Look for the Quality Assurance International (QAI), National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), or USDA seal when shopping for organic beauty products.

Fiber

Foods and cosmetics are common products that come to mind when thinking of organically sourced ingredients, but many people fail to recognize that fibers can be organically sourced as well. Cotton, in particular, is a primary fiber used to make many of the clothes we wear everyday. Cotton crops can be deemed organic just as any other plant, meaning these crops must be farmed using only organic practices approved by the USDA.

Tip: Look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) symbol when trying to find organically sourced clothing items.

USDA Organic Certification Standards

Any food product marketed and sold as “organic” must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. If something is not certified, it cannot make any organic claims on the packaging display or use the USDA organic seal. When a product is certified as organic by the USDA, this essentially means that it has no genetic modification, synthetic fertilizers, or chemical pesticides used in the farming and manufacturing processes.

However, it is permissible for uncertified products to list the organic ingredients on the information label. For other items labeled as “100% organic,” this simply means that all of the ingredients in the product are certified organic. This can be seen in beauty products like skin creams or body care items, as well as foods and beverages that are comprised of entirely organic ingredients.  

Other descriptors like all-natural or plant-based are unregulated terms that can be used on any package description. While these products may still contain natural ingredients, it’s hard to know for sure unless you are looking at a very transparent company that shares their entire supply chain information.

What is a GMP Certified product?

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards are used in the production of vitamins and other wellness supplements, as well as some foods and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, and medical devices. The purpose of this system is to maintain quality control and reduce the risk of inconsistencies by ensuring that products are created in a uniform manner. In doing this, consumers can feel at ease when they purchase products with GMP standards in mind, since they’ll be getting the same product each time regardless of when it was manufactured.

Why Sourcing Matters

Source can play an important part in the quality of a final product, and it can have an impact on you, your home, your community, and society as a whole. The process of ethical sourcing ensures that every worker along the supply chain is treated fairly and safely, which can promote positive change for working conditions in developing areas across the globe.

In addition to the manual labor that goes into creating many products, it’s also necessary to understand how soil conditions and chemical use may affect common crops. The soil composition in which a plant is grown can contribute to its health, and any chemical pesticides or fertilizers may leave behind trace amounts. Humans may then ingest these chemical leftovers, which currently have unknown effects, but are a topic of concern for many consumers.

Source matters a lot, especially when it comes to the products you put inside your body. At Populum, this is something we think about everyday, and it’s a part of everything we do.”

What You Can Do

For many people, they feel that the cost of organic and ethically sourced goods is too high for them to justify the purchase. However, there are several ways you can stay within budget while on your pursuit to be a more conscious consumer, including:

  • Look for labels. One of the easiest things you can do when deciding if a product is up to par is reading the information on the packaging. In doing this, you may notice certain items that surprise you in their organic ingredients and their affordable price.  
  • Do your research. With today’s access to technology, there is an infinite amount of available information that can help you make better shopping choices without breaking the bank—all at the touch of your fingertips.
  • Shop locally. Going to the farmer’s market down the street not only helps boost your local economy, but it gives you the opportunity to talk with farmers about their agricultural practices. You may also find that farmer’s market foods typically cost the same as conventionally raised produce, despite the myth that they are always more expensive.

With the increased transparency and intrigued consumerism in today’s world, it’s easier than ever to make thoughtful choices about the goods and services we purchase without costing an arm and a leg to do so.

Although in certain markets, it can be even more difficult to separate the good products from the bad. For instance, the CBD and hemp oil space has proven to be a confusing industry, with varying trust signals and questionable brands popping up overnight. In this quickly growing but widely unregulated market, Populum stands out as a brand with a thoughtfully sourced and diligently formulated product line.

Gunhee also notes, “Consumers should be aware and knowledgeable about the products they are buying, and we try to make this process as simple as possible for our customers.” Populum accomplishes this by focusing on creating the highest quality hemp extract on the market, grown by local US farmers, and formulated in a GMP standard facility to ensure each solution is tested and bottled with care. To learn more about Populum and the products that they offer, you can check out our review here.

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