Our guide to shopping better and using more of what you already have
While you may not be able to change the world in one day, you can take small steps to help make it a bit greener. When it comes to living an eco-friendly lifestyle, the best place to begin is sustainable shopping.
Here are ten tips to help you get started:
1. Shop for groceries online
Having groceries delivered to your door versus driving yourself to the store is better for the planet by reducing your carbon footprint. According to a new study from the University of Washington, using a grocery delivery service, like Instacart, FreshDirect or AmazonFresh can reduce carbon emissions by at least 50 percent. Fewer cars on the road means less air pollution.
2. Opt for plastic-free products whenever possible
Living without plastic may seem next to impossible, but there are many eco-friendly alternatives to choose from. For example, rather than buying bottled water, you can invest in a stainless steel water bottle. And instead of buying plastic food containers, go for the glass or stainless steel option.
3. Try to stay away from certain fabrics
This includes polyester, acrylic, and conventional cotton.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber derived from oil, and these types of fibers release microfibers into the water.
Conventional cotton is created using pesticides (often used incorrectly and excessively), which has contributed to the decreasing number of insects. This process is gradually damaging our planet’s ecosystem.
Acrylic is the worst offender of them all. The process of transforming viscose rayon into plants is environmentally toxic, contributing to pollution.
4. Bring your reusable shopping bag
Did you know the amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile? Plastic bags are one of the main culprits for harming our planet.
Many stores are now charging for plastic bags to encourage customers to bring their own bags.
5. Buy recyclable packaging
Products are offered in many different packaging styles. When packaging is created from numerous materials, it cannot be recycled - for instance, a cardboard container with a plastic or metal top. Choose packaging made from one recyclable material.
6. Read labels carefully
Also, choose products with the lowest hazard. Keywords to look for include “Caution!” – it’s less hazardous than “Danger!” or “Poison!”
7. Invest in clothes you will wear often
Environmentally friendly clothing may cost a little extra, but you will get MUCH more use out of it. Whenever you’re buying anything, think to yourself, “How often will I wear this?”
8. Shop at thrift stores
Although previously worn, the majority of thrift store clothing is in perfectly good condition; not to mention you are likely to get an amazing deal!
9. Look for important certifications
Beware of eco buzzwords and take a closer look. Several gold-standard certifications verify sustainable practices.
For example, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a certification for textiles that ensure products are a minimum of 70% organic fibers.
Another test for textiles is OEKO-TEX, providing numerous levels of certification – which includes making sure the products are free of toxic chemicals.
And let’s not forget Fair Trade, which proves factory workers are paid minimum wage and they’re in a safe working environment.
10. Look at sustainability as a whole
Every industry and brand defines sustainability differently. What one brand calls eco-friendly, another may call it harmful, or unattainable. As a consumer, it’s up to you to do the research and look a little deeper.
Looking for more ways to greenify your life? Check out What is Green Cleaning? and Sustainable Living 101: 3 Easy Steps to Help You Live More Sustainably.