As we watch the temperatures climb this summer and read new headlines about the drought every day, many of us want to do what we can to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint so we can slow climate change. Some people ditch their cars and start to pedal bikes to work, others have gone further, installing solar panels to heat and power their homes instead of using fossil fuels. The truth is that there are countless ways out there to live greener without altering or impeding your lifestyle. Here are some tips on shopping green, whether for clothing or groceries.
Bring your own reusable bags to the store. Canvas tote bags are often used a fashion statement, so there are a whole lot of choices when it comes to which to use. Many grocery stores stock their own and charge a low fee for them, and you can find higher end versions at online stores and fashion shops alike. The idea is that the more you use your own bags, the less plastic and paper bags there will be in the universe and eventually, the landfills.
Shop local. Sure, sometimes you need that basic white tank top from Old Navy or some Heinz Ketchup made in a factory somewhere across the country, but most of your needs can be satisfied by local purveyors, whether you are looking for food or clothes or anything else. The more locally your goods are made, the less fossil fuels it takes to bring them to you.
Do not put too much faith in branding and marketing. A store may advertise a new “green line of clothing” or environmentally friendly ethos, but these are often just marketing gimmicks instead of truthful descriptions of the goods. There are some reliable and easy ways to verify these statements, though. On clothing, check the tags to see what the clothes are made of. Do the materials sound organic? On food, look at the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, it is probably not green.
Buy used when you can. Of course this does not apply to food, but for clothing and furniture, one sure way to go green is to buy something that has already been used. By choosing something that has already had a life or two, you’re are rescuing it from the landfill – what is greener than that?
Talk to shop owners. If a store advertises itself as being environmentally friendly, ask the shop owner what it is does to be that way. There is no need to be confrontational or accusatory; simply being an interested customer will get you plenty of information. There are so many ways to go green – using less energy, limiting the amount of paper used in the course of a day, buying carbon offsets – a store that says it is green should know how to explain what it means. If it doesn’t, shop elsewhere.
Buy less stuff. These are obviously words no shopper wants to hear, but the truth is that buying less stuff is good for the environment. So instead of loading up on new sweaters this fall, check your closet for what you can still wear from the past years.
These are just a handful of ways that you can make your shopping trips less harmful to the environment. Talk to your friends and tell them what you are doing and hear if they are also trying to “go green.” There is no better advocate for the environment than practicing what you preach, so don’t just talk about being a better citizen of the world, be one!