With the irreversible damage of climate change looming upon our heads, now is the best time to start taking more actions to reduce our carbon footprint and protect the environment. However, going zero waste is not always possible, especially for the modern consumer, but that doesn’t mean you cannot be more sustainable.
Shopping is one of the best areas of life to apply sustainable practices. Every week, we buy new things to survive and make ourselves happy, be it groceries, clothes, electronics, and other consumer goods. Seeing that we can’t exactly stop buying stuff, how can we make our shopping more sustainable?
Here are a few strategies that can work.
1. Buy local
As much as possible, buy from businesses that source, manufacture, or harvest their products locally. Local products have traveled a far shorter distance than ones imported from other places, which means they have consumed fewer resources and produced less carbon dioxide to get to the store shelves. And aside from reducing your carbon footprint, you’re also doing your part in helping boost the local economy.
2. Think if you can buy something used
The next time you want or need to buy something, think about whether you can buy it used. This way, you’re not buying a new item and are saving an old one from going to the dumps. It’s also a great way to save money, especially if you buy from a discount store or a thrift store.
Whether it’s clothes, electronics, toys, or collectibles, try to find somewhere you can buy it used before considering buying it brand-new.
3. Find eco-friendly businesses
Because of the green movement that is taking the world by storm, countless businesses focus on selling eco-friendly products made from sustainable materials and processes. Check out this eco-friendly wallet that can connect you with sustainable businesses and even help you track your carbon footprint. The next time you want to buy something, see if a sustainable business sells it.
4. Stop bad shopping habits
Impulse buying or emotional shopping are two of the greatest contributors to producing personal waste. Whenever you buy something you don’t really need, you’re essentially wasting the product itself and increasing your carbon footprint without a real reason. Keep in mind that every item has a significant carbon footprint that comes with its manufacturing, storage, and transportation. And if you don’t use it, you’re not only wasting your money—you’re also contributing to the massive amounts of waste that the world has today.
If you have a problem controlling your impulses with shopping, try the 7-day rule. Whenever you see something that you want to buy, whether it’s online or in a brick-and-mortar store, wait for seven days and then decide if you still want to buy the item. This trick not only helps you practice delayed gratification, but it can also help you control your spending.
5. Avoid excessive packaging
When you shop at the store, avoid buying products that use excessive or unnecessary packaging. The best example of this is fruits or vegetables that come in plastic containers and plastic wrap. Look for alternatives or buy products that come in recyclable packaging. Better yet, bring your own bags for loose items such as fruits, vegetables, rice, and lentils.
6. Donate or sell unwanted belongings
Don’t let unwanted stuff sit around your house, and don’t put them straight into the trash. Instead, either sell them for a reasonable price or donate them. You may not want them anymore, but there is always someone else out there that can make good use of your belongings.
7. Make your stuff last longer
When you take good care of things, they last longer, which means that you don’t have to buy new ones anytime soon. This mantra can apply to almost anything, be it clothes, vehicles, electronics, and shoes. The longer your stuff lasts, the less impact you contribute to the environment since you prolong the time until you have to make a new purchase.
8. Avoid buying small, single items online
Imagine how much waste a tiny item produces when you have it shipped. While buying small items is not always avoidable, make it a point to wait until your cart is full or share the shipping costs with someone else to reduce packaging and shipping waste.
As you can see, it is entirely possible to be more sustainable even if you are a regular consumer. All you have to do is make a few small changes and, of course, be more mindful of the environmental impact that your actions can have.