June 2019, by Julius Abendan
5 Simple Ways to Be Eco-Friendly When Shopping
Going green is a holistic discipline. In other words, the decision of living an eco-friendly lifestyle applies to everything you do. If you’re serious, environmentally-friendly habits will encompass nearly all aspects of your life, whether it’s dining, cleaning, and even shopping.
But how exactly do you do that?
Below are a few of the many ways you can live an eco-friendlier lifestyle, at least when you go out and shop. Take these tips to heart and you’ll join a global movement that aims to solve the problem of pollution and climate change.
1. Buy Only What You Need
When you have disposable income, the temptation to put that money to good use by shopping can be hard to resist. Oftentimes, what happens is you end up buying more things than you actually need, contributing to the endless cycle of unnecessary consumerism.
Have you ever tried purchasing an electronic device, like a phone or tablet, that you didn’t really need but you wanted to buy out of curiosity? That’s what we’re talking about here.
People may argue that there’s nothing wrong with this, but items like electronic gadgets not only consume power, they are also difficult to recycle.
And given that the electronic device you don’t really need has to consume energy, you’re putting an unnecessary burden on the environment by generating greenhouses gasses from the fossil fuels needed to produce electricity.
2. Avoid Purchasing Disposables as Much as You Can
We all know why disposables are popular—they are convenient and you can just throw them away when you’re done. They’ve become popular largely because of how hectic people’s lives are nowadays. Busy office people can only manage to spend half an hour to eat lunch, with little to no time spent to wash reusable utensils.
Unfortunately, disposable utensils are usually made of plastic. When you throw them away, they are not recycled unless properly segregated. As a result, they contribute to the growing pile of waste that collects dust in landfills, joining the tonnes of other garbage around the world that turn into greenhouse gasses (methane) as they slowly decompose. Worse, many of the plastics leach chemicals into the ground, contaminating the soil and groundwater underneath.
If you take the time to quantify how many minutes it takes to wash your utensils, you’ll be surprised to learn that it only takes around 5 minutes—right about the same length of time it takes to wash your teeth. Washing won’t take up much a lot of your time, so why not say goodbye to disposable utensils for good and use real spoons and forks for a change?
3. Purchase Cloth Napkins Instead of Plastic Diapers
Plastic diapers are popular for the same reason that disposable utensils are widely used—convenience.
Even though plastic diapers have been proven to be uncomfortable on babies’ skin, people still choose them over their cloth counterparts because they’re convenient and easy to replace. You don’t even need to wash them. Just throw them away and you’re done, ready to move on to the next task until your little one decides it’s time to go poo-poo again.
In addition to having potentially detrimental side effects on children’s skin, plastic diapers are one of the main culprits of excess waste. Your average family with a baby can consume a pack of plastic diapers in as fast as two days.
These diapers are then thrown and sent to disposal centres, where they just lay in the sun slowly decomposing. Sometimes, diapers somehow make their way into the ocean, where they float around and leach toxic chemicals into the water.
4. Buy Second Hand
Not only are second hand items cheap, buying them also takes away some of the production demand for new goods. Constantly buying new items may be good for the companies, it also takes a toll on the environment from all the fossil fuels that go into different manufacturing and industrial processes.
And that doesn’t include the raw materials needed to produce goods, such as metals that need to be mined from the earth, trees that have to be cut down, and water that needs to be drawn from lakes, rivers, and streams.
Not only that, you’re also increasing demand for electricity, forcing power providers to expend more fossil fuels to answer that demand.
5. Use Eco-Bags
Say goodbye to the otherwise ubiquitous plastic bag for your shopping needs. While plastics are reusable to a certain extent, they end up being thrown away as containers of other forms of trash. Plastic bags can be replaced with reusable eco-bags, which are created out of recycled materials so you can be sure that they are indeed friendly to the environment.
The Eco-bags are also economical. You only really need to buy a few bags and they’ll last virtually forever with proper care. If they get dirty, simply throw them in the wash. Ripped a hole in the bag? Simply sew on a patch.
And if you have your own business, you can buy these bag in bulk and offer them as an alternative to single-use plastic bags. Your customers will eventually appreciate your efforts to eliminate the need to use unsustainable plastic bags.
Final Thoughts on Being an Eco-Friendly Shopper
See how easy it is to be eco-friendly even in your shopping adventures? Going green and environmentally friendly might require a bit of effort and adjustment, but you’ll eventually get used to these little changes with time, until they simply become part of your everyday habits.
The next time you shop, remember these tricks and you’ll do your community and the environment a wonderful favour.
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