Small Changes In Your Shopping Habits That Can Have A Big Impact On The Planet•
Posted on April 24 2019
Become a ‘green consumer‘. When shopping for any sort of product – anything from groceries to a new television, take a moment to weigh up the options. If there are alternatives, consider which product has the lowest impact on the environment.
Shopping is an activity so ingrained into our society that we often do it thoughtlessly, automatically, or hurriedly. By paying more attention to how we shop and what we buy, however, we can make a difference for the planet.
Time and money are precious. When we shop, we want to save as much as possible of both. We all want to change the world, but we don’t know how. We all also go shopping, because buying things is a requirement to living. So what if we could help better our world by simply tweaking the way we shop? "Saving the world" sounds like an impossible task, but if we all stick together, we can make even the impossible, possible. By making minimal changes to your shopping habits, you can help make the world a better place.
Little things like what you buy and where you buy it can have a greater effect on many more people than you can imagine. Money is a powerful tool, and where you decide to spend it helps determine the state of the world we are living in today. To help make the world a better place, be conscious about your buying habits, and change them for the better.
The majority of us have made online purchases. It's generally cheaper, more convenient and saves you a whole lot of time, but what is the impact of your online shopping on the environment? The first issue isn't the goods themselves, but the box they come in. The fastest-growing contributors to this pile of cardboard are e-commerce companies.
On the surface, shopping online seems good for the environment: it eliminates car trips and associated carbon emissions. While cardboard can be recycled, some of it ends up in landfill, or even dumped on the side of the road.
In other nations, the recycling record is less impressive, and our demand for cardboard boxes is increasing at a rate our waste management systems can't keep up with. Add to this the huge amount of Styrofoam, plastic coverings, sticky tape and other bits and pieces found inside the typical package, online shopping is creating an ever-growing problem.
At first sight, the arguments that online shopping is better for the environment are plausible. Whereas for example a clothes shop has to be air-conditioned and supplied with electricity all the year round, online customers can order their new coats from home. The packaging material can be recycled, whereas any goods that remain unsold in shops have to be repackaged and stored. If we save money or time when we're shopping, we notice it immediately in our wallets or on our watches. However, emissions are not directly noticeable. What is certain is that the extent of emissions depends largely on our own shopping behavior.
Shop for high-quality clothes that are made to last
Durability is a key component in the environmental impact of a product because its carbon footprint decreases every year that you own it. For example, a Patagonia jacket is produced on a sustainable supply chain with high-quality fabrics, so it lasts for decades—or you can return it to the company and they’ll recycle it for you.
The world is addicted to cheap, crappy clothes. Thanks to low-wage manufacturing in poor countries and the rise of fast fashion, clothes have morphed from being valuable possessions to disposable items that we chuck out at the end of the season. And, as I recently described in a recent essay, this never-ending cycle of consumption is killing people and the planet.
Brands across the fashion industry learned how to make and sell products at rock bottom prices. But when you consider the terrible environmental and human impact of manufacturing such cheap clothes, it’s clear that the price tag only tells one small part of story.
Buy green products
Shop for things that are eco-friendly. Green products are recycled or renewable materials that are toxic-free and non-harmful to the environment and are biodegradable. When you choose to buy green products, you are helping to reduce the toxicity and waste that we cause to the world around us.
Shoppers give that same moral license to companies they perceive as being green, making brand names almost as important as organic labels or eco-certifications that may appear on packaging. A strong environmental reputation is really important to today's consumers. Given the choice to go green when making purchases online, a lot of people would follow through, new research suggests. They just need companies to provide them with enough information to do so.
If an individual is going to try to calculate the carbon footprint of anything, that’s actually a really hard thing to do and it requires a lot of specialized knowledge. Individuals are actually not in a good position to try to figure out what the environmental impacts are of the different options available to them. Firms can potentially do that once and then share that information across all of their customers.
One of the best ways to fight plastic pollution is to live by example and ensure the products you buy are produced with both ethics and the environment in mind.
Prioritize natural fabrics
We’re all about organic cotton. Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that can be spun into thread to make soft, breathable fabrics. It’s natural making it biodegradable unlike so many of the synthetic fibers that now control the market.
While cotton has been around since prehistoric times, conventional cotton of today is far less sustainable. Conventional cotton farming relies on imprudent cropping and irrigation systems. Organic cotton offers a sustainable solution; it is grown only using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, dependably replenishing and maintaining the land that is farmed. Just as the environment is complex, so is the concept of being environmentally friendly.
“Eco-friendly is a term that’s thrown around these days, but it’s important to understand it spans from the fabric that your clothing is made from to the factories where your clothing is made.
Synthetic materials can take up to 1,000 years to decompose which means that all of the polyester that has ever been made still exists. Those materials account for a large chunk of the clothing that’s currently sitting in landfills plus, synthetics require chemicals to make, and those chemicals end up in the water supply of countries like Bangladesh and China. These synthetic fibers are ubiquitous in our garments, invisibly taking over our wardrobes and silently destroying our environments.
Synthetic fabrics release tiny plastic particles into waterways every time you do a load of laundry. These micro plastics enter rivers and oceans, and are noxious to marine life. While organic cotton is biodegradable, these alternative synthetic fabrics can damage the environment with every wear. Plastic really is everywhere but we’re keeping it out of your clothes.
Purchase items that don’t require a lot of extra packaging and are made from recycled or eco-friendly materials
Packaging is big business, especially with so many companies partaking in e-commerce. The options for packing supplies are virtually endless and yet, the majority of what’s out there today is not very eco-friendly. Packaging sustainability trends tend to be the same across all sectors, including beauty. These encompass sustainable sourcing such as forest certification and biopolymer use; material optimization such as source reduction and light weighting; design for recycling and composting; and labeling for recyclability. There is also a focus on eliminating toxicity at both the product and package level.
Environmentally responsible packaging has become a standard practice to incorporate sustainability goals into corporate decision-making. There has been a big focus on metrics, measurement, and goals, but the next step of taking action against these metrics is not happening very quickly. There is a lot more pre-competitive industry collaboration. As insufficient recycling facilities and lack of knowledge are sometimes obstacles to the end of life for some products. Much of the responsibility for achieving environmentally responsible packaging goals falls to the industry’s suppliers. To put our bags into perspective, it’s worthwhile to take a look at what these compost standards mean.
Eco-friendly packaging is easily recycled and is safe for individuals and the environment. It makes use of renewable energy and uses as much renewable or recycled materials as possible. It is also known as green packaging or sustainable packaging.
Bring your reusable bags since they often hold more stuff and have comfortable handles
Reusable grocery bags are environmentally friendly, but only if you actually use them, many times. And you’re probably not using the crappy “reusable” bags you got from your bank or from Whole Foods, which sit in your kitchen cabinet until you eventually throw them out.
Meanwhile, you end up out somewhere and suddenly need a bag. Your purse or backpack is already carrying whatever it usually carries. So you use like five disposable plastic bags and you feel like a schmuck and your hands hurt. You need a better bag. A big bag that can hold almost anything, whether it’s bulky, fragile, or wet. And you need to have it on you at all times.
It is estimated to take between 15 and 1,000 years for the average plastic bag to decompose, depending upon the type of environment. A typical landfill environment causes the plastic bags to just sit for decades or centuries with minimal break down.
The cost of recycling plastic bags is relatively high and many recyclers will not accept them. Plastic bags are commonly discarded into landfills. Paper bags produce double the atmospheric waste as plastic bags, so they are not really a better option for the environment. Plastic bags do not always remain in landfills due to their light weight. They often flutter away and are stuck in trees and littering our coasts.
Carrying reusable shopping bags gives you advantages because it is cost effective. You can use your cloth shopping bags for years and never throw them away. When they get dirty, it is simple to wash them and keep on using them. Reusable bags are strong and can be used for many years’ worth of shopping trips. They also can carry far more weight than plastic bags.
Buy fair trade
As shoppers, one of the best things we can do is to seek out cotton garments that have been certified by Fairtrade. This guarantees a fair price for farmers, even when the market price drops. In addition, farmers are paid a Fairtrade premium that can be used to invest in farms, education, or other community projects. Finding Fair Trade products has never been easier. Not only has the steady growth of the Fair Trade market brought more and more products into supermarkets and local retail stores, but the internet has brought almost every possible Fair Trade product within the reach of a mouse click.
When many of us think about improving conditions in the developing world, Fair Trade may be one of the first things to come to mind. Fair Trade guarantees that the buyer of a particular product such as coffee or bananas must pay the farmer enough to cover the cost of growing their crop or the market value for their goods, whichever is higher.
Purchasing products that are fair trade certified can reduce poverty, encourage environmentally friendly production methods and safeguard humane working conditions. Simply look for the fair trade label on products such as coffee, chocolate or clothing. Based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, Fair Trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.
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