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How to be a more eco-conscious consumer on World Consumer Rights Day

The 7 R's of waste management can help the planet

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Photo (c) South_agency - Getty Images

Here at ConsumerAffairs, our passion is to provide you with important information so you can be a smarter, savvier and more confident consumer. So it should come as no surprise that we’re all-in when it comes to celebrating the annual World Consumer Rights Day.

In addition to raising consumer awareness and advocacy, the consumer world is focusing on tackling plastic pollution as part of its 2021 goal. Consumers International, a not-for-profit charity and consumer advocacy organization, wants to encourage consumers around the world to make a concerted effort to adopt more sustainable behaviors to help preserve the planet.

"Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet," said Helena Leurent, director general of Consumers International. "Consumer awareness of the plastics crisis is growing around the world. Consumers have a critical role in shaping the marketplace, and we must support them to mobilize businesses and governments to ensure sustainable consumption is accessible to all."

Being more eco-conscious by practicing the 7 R’s

If you want to help reduce the extraordinary amount of plastic pollution the planet is dealing with and be a more eco-conscious consumer, Consumers International says you should focus on practicing these “7 R’s” of waste management:

  • Replace: Consider replacing some of the single-use plastic products you use on a day-to-day basis with reusable products that can be cleaned and maintained. For example, you might replace plastic straws with metal or glass straws to help cut down on waste.
  • Rethink: Even if you’re buying sustainable products, the packaging they come in could be a major source of plastic pollution. Buying “naked” or unpackaged goods helps eliminate that problem — and you even get to cut out the extra step of opening up boxes or bags.
  • Refuse: Saying no to single-use plastic products at restaurants and other retailers is a simple way to cut down on excessive plastic use. It also forces you to think of more sustainable solutions in some cases, like bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.
  • Reduce: Cutting all of the plastic out of your life is a tough thing to do, so you can start by reducing your plastic footprint in small ways. Taking the process in steps can help alter your mindset and make adopting bigger changes down the road a little easier.
  • Reuse: In cases where you can’t avoid using a single-use plastic item, don’t settle for just throwing it out. If you can save it and repurpose it for something else, then you’re doing your part as a sustainable consumer.
  • Recycle: Recycling products is one of the best ways to ensure plastic isn’t needlessly making its way into the ecosystem. You can do your part by making sure you have proper access to waste infrastructure and collection.
  • Repair: Plastic pollution isn’t all about bottles and packaging. Often, we think we have to throw products’ hard plastic pieces and broken parts out. But going the extra mile by repairing them can make a world of difference.

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