How to Change Your Routine Buying Habits to be More Eco-Friendly
Contributor author: Annie Button
The detrimental effects of plastic on our environment are well known and simply acknowledging the harm is not enough. Small changes to our daily routines can make a big difference.
Now that school is back many parents are looking for ways that they can reduce their environmental impact and alter their family lifestyle. Whether that’s in what they do at home, at work, or what they buy for their kids. But there is good news here - when you make simple and small changes to your buying habits it can go a long way and make a real difference.
Together, these types of small sustainable choices will help ensure a greener future for everyone and can make you more conscious of the overall decisions you’re making about the way you buy.
Buy Used Items Wherever Possible
Purchasing used items reduces the demand for new products and keeps waste out of landfills. Almost anything you need can be found pre-owned, from clothing and books to electronics, furniture, and more.
“Extending the lifecycle of products means slowing down the rate of excessive consumption, which means less waste, emissions, unfair wages and animal cruelty,” says Michael Ofei, writing for The Minimalist Vegan. “Instead of generating waste, we’re creating a circular economy of re-distributing “would-be” discarded products and giving them a new life. The knock-on effect is that the demand for new products would decrease, which would force producers to reduce their supply.”
With the rise of ‘recommerce’ websites and apps, the second-hand market has never been more accessible. Sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace make it simple to find used goods right from your own neighborhood.
Buying used is an eco-friendly alternative that is easy on the wallet while also giving perfectly good items a second life rather than discarding them. Every time you buy used instead of new, you're keeping one more product out of the manufacturing demand cycle and lessening pollution.
Try to Make Trading in a Regular Habit
Another option to consider is trading in used goods when purchasing new ones. Many retailers, especially for electronics and vehicles, offer trade-in programs where you can get money off your next purchase by trading in a used model. Trading in items you no longer need helps keep them out of the waste stream and allows them to be resold or recycled responsibly.
But you might be surprised at just how many people are missing out on this opportunity - according to research from camera equipment specialist MPB, despite the fact that US homes contain over $650 billion in unused tech, over half the population state that they have never traded in a used item for a new one.
When you trade in equipment like phones, tablets, gaming consoles or vehicles to a retailer, they will either resell them as refurbished goods or recycle the parts. Either way, the overall lifecycle of the product is extended.
Trading in used goods is a simple way to get a discount on new purchases while helping the environment. The items you trade in gain a second life, and the demand for newly manufactured products is slightly reduced. For many consumers, it’s a win-win situation and an easy habit to get into for a greener 2023. With each trade-in, you keep one more product out of the dump and chip in towards a sustainable future.
Research Sustainable and Ethical Brands
As a consumer, one of the most impactful things you can do is research the business practices of companies before purchasing from them. Consider how brands treat the environment, their employees, suppliers, and communities. Support those that align with your eco-friendly values.
Look for certified B Corporations, as these companies meet high standards of social and environmental performance. They consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Prefer brands that use sustainable materials and production processes, treat employees fairly, and give back to important causes.
Vote with your dollars and buy from responsible companies making a positive difference. Every purchase you make is a chance to support an ethical brand working hard to combat issues like pollution, unfair wages, and poor working conditions. Do some investigating before you click ‘buy’ or walk up to the checkout line.
Reduce Everyday Use of Single-Use Plastics
Plastic pollution is an urgent problem as most single-use plastics end up in landfills and waterways, contaminating the environment and harming wildlife. An average person uses over 300 pounds of plastic per year, so making simple changes can have a huge impact.
One of the easiest ways to become a sustainable consumer is to reduce single-use plastics by carrying reusable alternatives on a regular basis. Bring reusable bags when shopping, and stop using plastic varieties. Carry a reusable water bottle and travel mug for beverages on the go. Buy metal or wooden cutlery to avoid plastic utensils.
Choose loose produce instead of packaged fruits and vegetables. Avoid products with excess plastic packaging, especially those labeled as ‘biodegradable’, since only compostable plastics break down safely in the environment.
Recycle what packaging you do need to use and look for recycling sites nearby for every day material and items you use at home. For everyday tasks, opt for reusable frozen food storage that allows you to be sustainable in the kitchen or when you’re doing your laundry.
Choosing to buy used goods, support ethical brands, reduce single-use plastics, and borrow instead of buying new on a routine basis are all impactful ways individuals can lower their environmental footprint through the products they purchase.
This is why the Eco-Collective exists, to make your eco-life as easy and simple as possible! We understand the journey towards zero-waste life can be overwhelming and while the challenges facing our planet are enormous, collective action can drive real progress.
Every reuse, reduction, and sustainable purchase moves us one step closer to more circular consumption patterns where products are continually cycled back into use.
Share with us in the comments below how you plan to reduce waste in your household starting today!
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