Climate change threatens our entire planet, but your shopping habits can help in the fight against it. Many individuals, companies, and governments have begun to support social responsibility efforts, such as carbon footprint reductions, the growth of green technology like solar, and the promotion of eco-friendly goods and services. Today, businesses around the world now choose to create and stock sustainable products, as many mindful shoppers are now considering a good’s impact on the planet before a good’s price.
However, going green with your purchases can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. Luckily, it’s easier to shop for earth-friendly products than you might think, and these nine green shopping tips will show you how:
1. Shop at Eco-Friendly Stores
It all starts with buying from retailers that actually care about the environment. To determine if you’re looking at a company that walks the walk with its green efforts, you should check the company's website.
To find the best eco-friendly products, we recommend checking the “about us” and “media room” pages to learn about its devotion to eco-friendly initiatives. You can also read a company's reviews to learn what other customers are saying about their products before you start shopping with them.
Some of the best eco-friendly brands and environmentally-friendly stores include:
- Seventh Generation
- Thrive Market
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Lush Cosmetics
- Made Trade
- Package Free
These shops and eco-friendly websites stock a plethora of environmentally friendly products, and you can get almost anything you want from these stores, from biodegradable phone cases and cruelty-free beauty products to backpacks made of recycled billboards and refillable soap dispensers. Even if you love the convenience of online shopping, many eco-friendly online stores employ sustainable packaging so you can continue your sustainable shopping on the internet.
2. Buy Local
If possible, always shop environmentally friendly by purchasing your products from local companies and stores. Shopping local means you're buying items that were manufactured in your immediate area, which is an easy way to increase your eco-conscious shopping.
The logic is simple: When you ship products over long distances, the airplanes, trucks, and cars used in that transportation emit greenhouse gases that contribute to air and land pollution. In other words, an apple grown 30 miles away is usually far more eco-friendly than one that traveled 3,000 miles to reach your grocery store. If the products were locally harvested or made, the environmental impact is usually lower.
3. Buy in Season
Every season features a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other produce that naturally grows during that time. For instance, berries in the U.S. are usually plentiful in June, while apples and acorn squash are abundant in September and October. Buying “in season” means that you get the best possible product, with the least environmental impact.
However, your average grocery store seems to have everything on its shelves all year long. No matter what you need or when you need it, you can quickly rush to the store and buy it. While this is definitely convenient, it is definitely not eco-friendly.
Buying in-season supports local farming while ensuring that you get the freshest fruits and vegetables. To get the freshest in-season produce, visit your local farmer’s market, or participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. A CSA connects local producers to the consumers in their immediate area, and you buy shares on a farm and receive weekly harvests in return.
4. Reduce Your Online Order Deliveries to Once a Week
Many people love online shopping because it’s convenient. Many leading eco-friendly stores even sell their products online. However, shopping from an online retailer might be doing more harm than good to the environment because many retailers use shipping and packaging options that can harm the environment.
To be as eco-friendly as possible with your online shopping, you can reduce your orders to once a week and purchase in bulk. Making multiple small purchases means more shipments to your home in several boxes, but a larger single order can lessen the impact on the environment by consolidating the packaging and limiting the number of trips involved in delivering your products.
You can still buy eco-friendly products online, but when you take the extra step to consider the impact of shipping your goods, you’ll do even more to support environmentally friendly shopping.
5. Purchased Recycled Items
When shopping online, look for retailers selling used, reused, and upcycled goods instead of brand-new ones. The best sustainable products are often more durable as well, and many used products look as good as new while also being cheaper than something “new-in-box”. Buying pre-owned items can save you money and reduce the waste and energy consumption involved in producing new items as well.
6. Avoid Impulse Buying
Impulse buying is a threat to eco-friendly shopping. It can easily lead to buying products that you do not need, which means they might end up in your local landfill quicker than you thought.
Advertisers use a variety of marketing tricks to trigger over-spending. If you’ve ever bought anything off a social media platform, website ad, or television commercial, you know they work very well! And many know the feeling of leaving a grocery store with a lot more than what was originally on your shopping list.
However, before buying anything, you should slow down, take a moment, and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you really need this?
- Do you already have something similar at home?
- What advantage will this new product give you over the older one you already have?
- Can you wait to buy this at a later date?
Keeping the earth and your budget in mind at all times is a great way to reduce your impulse buying.
7. Bring Your Bag
Millions of single-use plastic bags are dumped in landfills each year, and many find their way into oceans and other natural resources. To be a more eco-friendly shopper, you should always bring your own bags and shop plastic-free. If those bags are reusable shopping bags, that’s even better! Many stores will even reward shoppers who bring their own eco-friendly shopping bags with discounts or other incentives.
It’s important to realize that not all reusable bags are eco-friendly. The manufacturing of cotton and hemp tote bags can still significantly impact the environment because the cultivation of those materials can require a lot of water and chemicals.
Instead, you can double down on being eco-friendly by using bags made from recycled packaging. Polyester or polypropylene production needs fewer resources than other materials, and can even help reclaim items from landfills.
8. Avoid Pre-Washed Groceries
Pre-washed produce like salad mixes or bags of lettuce might seem convenient, but they are not very eco-friendly. Not only does the increase in convenience cost more, but they can also hurt the environment because the packaging used for the various components of that salad often can’t be recycled.
Instead, you can shop sustainably by buying regular produce that’s in season from a local farm, and washing it thoroughly at home. Sure, it might take a little more time, but you’re also helping the environment.
9. Choose Organic and Natural Products
Buying organic and natural products helps everyone because it encourages companies to create, stock, and sell more eco-friendly products. This includes organic foods as well as toiletries and cleaners made from natural materials, using sustainable processes and resources instead of strong industrial chemicals. The best products that meet these criteria are EPA Safer Choice Certified, which means they’re free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dyes, and bleaches.
It’s simple supply and demand in action. When your shopping cart is full of environmentally friendly items, you’re telling companies that you value the health of the planet, and you appreciate that they want to lessen their impact on the environment too.
How To Make Shopping Eco-Friendly
Eco-friendly shopping doesn't mean that you have to stop shopping. You can save money and save the planet at the same time! It just means that you need to be a little more careful about what you are buying, especially in terms of how it’s made and how it impacts the planet. Eco-friendly shopping encourages us to support ethical and sustainable consumption and the companies that support that goal.
Following these 9 shopping tips lowers your carbon footprint, helps save the environment, and increases sustainability. Look for eco-friendly places to shop around you, and if you can't find one, you can always opt for eco-friendly online shopping.
If you're thinking of making an even bigger eco-friendly purchase by going solar, check out Palmetto’s Free Solar Design and Savings Estimate Tool. We’d love to talk with you about going green with your energy consumption, and making your home more energy-efficient!