10 Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Shopping Tips

Shopping sustainability can be overwhelming, especially with so many products claiming to be natural, eco-friendly, or free of something.

It is hard to know what brands or companies to trust and what products are environmentally friendly.

They often referred to this as greenwashing, where companies use deceptive eco-friendly claims on product packaging.

They do this because they recognize that being “green” is trendy but don’t want to invest in making their product environmentally friendly.

It is essential to take the time to do your research before purchasing any products.

Investigate eco-friendly companies online, research their products and ingredient lists, and examine their practices and beliefs.

Look for products with certifications (e.g., Fair Trade Certification) and eco-friendly logos.

Eco-friendly Logos

10 Ways to Shop Sustainably:

1. Shop at Zero-waste Stores

A zero-waste store allows customers to eliminate packaging by allowing them to bring their own containers to fill and refill with bulk whole foods, beauty products, and cleaning products.

Shopping at a zero-waste store is a lot of fun, but here are a few tips to improve your experience:

  • Always bring reusable produce bags
  • Always take glass jars or other containers (bonus points if you upcycle products you purchased – e.g., re-using a yogurt container or glass jar)
  • Have your jars and containers tared (weighed) before shopping
  • Use your phone to record container weights
  • Bring a cloth bag for bread or other bulk items
  • Use your bags to carry all your groceries home

Remember that even though zero-waste stores can be a bit more expensive, they offer better quality and more sustainable products than your average supermarket.

2. Shop Online

Purchasing goods online can be better for the environment than buying in-store for environmental reasons. With online purchases, a single truck or van can replace multiple car trips by multiple households to stores.

By shopping online, you can positively impact the environment and conserve fuel by reducing the number of times you visit the store.

3. Shop Local

It is essential to consider where your money is going when you purchase. Spending money at a locally owned store will stay in your community. They also employ local workers, spur innovation and creativity within your community, and enhance the environment.

4. Shop at Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are a great way to save money and help the environment at the same time. Buying owned/used products allows items to remain in circulation longer and prevents them from ending in landfills.

Often, when someone is ready to part ways with an item, it is not because the item’s life cycle has ended; it’s because they no longer want it or have a use for it. The best example is clothing; people grow out of clothes, change their style, or need to make space in their closets.

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to score items at a fraction of their average cost. One trick is shopping with cash to avoid impulse buying at thrift stores or other stores. Before going to the store, decide how much you are comfortable spending based on your needs, and make a budget.

5. Avoid Buying Plastic Packaging

Learn how to become a conscious shopper and adopt a few of these tricks. In the produce aisle, it may seem far more convenient to grab mushrooms in a plastic container wrapped in plastic or peppers in a pre-packed plastic bag.

However, have you ever compared the price of the pre-packaged and plastic-wrapped produce to the fresh produce you need to bag yourself? Not always, but the produce you need to bag yourself is cheaper. You can also bring your produce bags to put your selected produce into.

6. Buy Sustainable Products

When shopping, select products responsibly obtained and produced without harmful chemicals or pesticides, such as organic products.

Consider purchasing fair trade goods, from food to clothing. If you are on holiday, avoid buying souvenirs that may have been made using unethical, infrequent, or threatened animal products.

7. Take Your Reusable Bags

Reusable bags are a sturdy and sustainable alternative to plastic or paper grocery bags. Reusable cloth bags are far less likely to cave or break and prevent plastic bag clutter in your home.

Invest in a few pleasing reusable bags that meet your needs, as they come in different sizes. Remembering to take your reusable bag with you can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you remember:

  • Leave your reusable bags in the car
  • Leave your reusable bags beside the door
  • Keep a reusable bag in your purse or backpack
  • Write “reusable bags” at the top of your shopping list

8. Take Your Bags for Fruits & Vegetables

Organic mesh cotton bags are the perfect product bags. They are the safest material for food and will help your produce last longer.

Be sure to buy enough bags for each shopping trip. Most people need around ten bags, which vary in size for all your fruit and veggie shopping needs. Only use one bag per produce item (e.g., potatoes in one bag and onions in another).

Always tell the cashier the weight of each bag so it can be deducted from the weighted cost. Some people put their produce in the fridge inside the bags, while others take it out. Cotton produce bags are also machine washable but should be air-dried.

9. Try Concentrated Cleaning Products

One alternative to purchasing various products is to buy a concentrated cleaning product.

A concentrated product is designed to extend its life by being diluted with water before use. For example, a small amount of concentrated product can be mixed with water in a spray bottle.

Therefore, you get more products and use less packaging. This also ensures that you pay only for the product at the store rather than for water and the product itself.

Most cleaning concentrates can be used on several home surfaces, saving time and money.

10. Support Small Businesses

Small businesses are the backbone of many local economies. As a consumer, it is essential to understand that while the prices may be a little higher, the carbon footprint of those products is often much lower, and the quality is much higher.

Many larger stores sell products that have been mass-produced in factories worldwide, resulting in a very high carbon footprint.

Tips for supporting small businesses:

  • Always shop at a local store over chains when possible
  • Share your experience/products purchased on social media
  • Write reviews

Final Thoughts on Sustainable Shopping

Becoming a sustainable shopper requires significant effort to reduce your carbon footprint, make conscious decisions, and shop locally. Sustainability is a journey that takes time.

The most important thing to remember is never to impulse buy and always do your research! Also, remember to ask yourself if your values align with the importance of the company you are purchasing from.

Remember, there are significant differences between wants and needs. Shopping for needs will make you a more sustainable shopper.

Related content: What is a Carbon Footprint & How is it Calculated?

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