Going green—it’s a term you see everywhere. And now it can be applied to shopping. Whether you’re in the market for clothes, a new computer, or groceries, having a greener shopping list is something anyone can do. All you need is research and little prep work. Here are 5 ways you can shop green:
1. Something Old Can Be New
To buy or not to buy? That’s the real question. Before making any purchase ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” “Is this just an impulse purchase?” “Is it replacing something broken or can it be repaired?” Often we buy items just to buy them, particularly when it comes to clothes. Buying old can make things new, so consider vintage or second-hand shops, or used products from online sources like Craigslist or Etsy. You could even consider renting items you may only use once.
2. Reduce Your Packaging Waste
If you’ve decided to purchase something, it’s important to be aware of how it’s packaged. Is it over packaged? Is the packaging recyclable? (Helpful recycle tip: Plastic has a number on it that will verify if it will be accepted by local recycling services). In 2014, the EPA calculated that plastic, paper, and glass packaging accounted for 63% of waste, which ends up in places like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in being eaten by marine life, which is then consumed by people, resulting in the ingestion of toxic chemicals. This vicious cycle makes it essential to consider a company’s packaging policies before you buy.
3. Buy for Quality, Not Cost
There is an old saying: “You get what you pay for.” When considering any purchase, it’s best to remember that cheap often needs to be replaced. Though it seems like an easy solution to look for a bargain, it doesn’t often guarantee quality. Spend a little more to save on future costs—and the environment.
4. Leave the credit cards at home
Credit cards are ubiquitous these days, because they make buying remarkably easy—especially impulse buys. Before credit cards, people would often have to make shopping lists and calculate the amount of cash to bring with them. This method would not only prevent overspending, but also overindulging. The biggest part of cutting environmental waste is cutting personal spending, so put the plastic away to keep trash from piling up.
5. Bring your own shopping bags
Tote bags aren’t just a trend, they’re here to stay. Now more than ever, department stores and supermarkets are offering a reusable shopping bag with purchase. Some stores are even making them quite fashionable, inexpensive, and extremely beneficial. Utilizing reusable bags means less plastic ending up in a landfill or other places where wildlife can be negatively affected. And if you’re finding it difficult to transition away from plastic bags, many grocery stores are now offering recycling bins. For a listing of stores in your area that accept plastic bags, visit: plasticbagrecycling.org.