You may have heard phrases like ‘reducing your carbon footprint’, ‘sustainable shopping’, be a ‘conscious consumer’, but have you taken stock of your individual impact on this planet?
A ‘Sustainable Shopper’ recognises we live in one large ecosystem with smaller ecosystems within the larger all affect and impact each other. So, in terms of goods and services, a sustainable shopper considers the most efficient and most beneficial for all. We need to be able to replenish and continue these practices without over depleting or over-consuming resources.
In this article, we are going to share some tips and tricks to help you be a better steward of the planet. I promote everyone doing what feels right to them but have found in my journey that many things I was completely oblivious to were harming the planet and small simple changes can have lasting impacts- so see what resonates for you!
1. Buy local food as much as possible- consider the humans behind the food
Especially. during a global pandemic the importance of ‘support local’ has a different meaning than it did at the beginning of 2020. Many small businesses staying afloat from government support (or not) and many ultimately not being able to continue in the aftermath of the pandemic impacts. The little guy out there flourishes from the locals in their community.
- Farmers markets!- sometimes you can also meet the humans behind the food and you know where your food came from. For me, getting to know the local baker who makes organic sourdough knowing that she carefully crafted the bread and putting my hard-earned money into her pocket feels more aligned than buying the large company bread that was baked who-knows-when-or-where often with many added ingredients for longer shelf life. For me, it became a story to share and made eating the bread a more community experience, which I didn’t realise before was important to me.
- Food miles- from where your food originated, how long or far did it have to travel before it made it into your belly. At the supermarket purchasing from an Australian almond milk company using Australian almonds costs more than the imported mass-produced almond milk.
- Buying food in season, especially from locals is a simple and easy way to be a more conscious consumer and it’s better for our digestion as well!
2. Sustainable shopping – no fast fashion, natural fibres
Large corporations able to mass-produce cheap clothing and even with importing costs can produce items that are lighter on the pocketbook. But the huge impact on carbon emissions in production as well as transportation and contribution growing microplastics in our ocean. Synthetic materials are disastrous to the planet and there are beginning to be more and more companies use sustainable methods such as instead of polyester made from oil, some now make polyester using recycled water bottles, so it’s worth looking into the companies you are buying from if that feels important to you.
Ask yourself if your values align with these prompts
- Say no to Fast fashion
- Purchase second hand
- Think quality over quanity
- Take clothes to the tailor instead of discarding
- Clothes swap with friends
- Is the material eco friendly? Was it made with toxic materials? Is the product cruelty-free?
Fair wages for employees do make clothing more expensive but choosing what is appropriate for you and being flexible that it may change depending on the situation can be important. It’s about the awareness in doing what aligns with your values.
3. Reducing your carbon input by minimising transportation
We all know there are other options but this prompt is to see if you can minimise excess use of transportation that harms the planet.
- Is there a shop you can walk to? Get your exercise in and have a trolley to bring home your goods.
- Are you able to walk or cycle to work?
- Is there someone you can carpool with?
- Take public transportation?
Even a small change a week could make big changes if we all did our part.
4. Reuse, Upcycle, DIY
Second-hand furniture items, use glass jars at a bulk store, upcycle an old bed frame as a fun DIY project. Reusable bags are a huge help to the planet.
5. Look at household contribution- compost/worm farm
Take a look at the products you purchase. How much waste do you put out every week? Some grocery stores are taking soft plastics which they make into outdoor furniture or other products.
- Make sure you rinse out recycled items so they can actually be recycled
- Look into having a household compost or a worm farm
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.
- Support brands that do good for the planet
- Use a bar of soap or shampoo/condition bar to reduce packaging
- Go through your house and realise how much stuff you have and avoid buying unnecessarily.
- Bringing your own utensils in your purse or your car for when you get takeaway
- Use a reusable coffee cup
- Wait 30 days before you buy something new to ensure it’s not an impulse buy
- Shower with a bucket and use the water for other things like watering or washing your floors
- Regularly purge – shows how much you have and helps not spending unnecessarily
- Use cloth you can wash instead of paper towel
- When washing dishes have a rinse bucket so you don’t use excess water.
The main hope is for us all to be more deliberate in our actions and by being aware we can know what we stand for and what we want to support. Living up to those values that are in line with who you are will keep you living a more harmonious life.
You may have heard the quote before that ‘every time you purchase something you are casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in.’ Make a list right now, what’s one small step you can take to be a more sustainable shopper, conscious consumer and overall better caretaker of our planet we all live on so we can make it a better place for ourselves and those after us!
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