When you go shopping, every choice you make impacts the environment.
But what eco-friendly options are best? And what habits can you adopt to do better for the planet?
Here are our top tips for eco-friendly shopping - whether in-person or online.
Are you guilty of swinging by the shops to pick up one or two items, only to come out with two shopping bags full?
Or browsing your favourite online store and buying more than you need to get free delivery?
We've all done it, but you can change how you shop to benefit the planet.
Shopping less often and grouping together your purchases can:
- Save on fuel - you'll make fewer trips to the shop
- Lessen the opportunities for impulse buys to sway you
- Fewer unnecessary items end up in landfill
Shockingly, according to Love Food Hate Waste, over 5 million tonnes of perfectly edible food is thrown away each year. That's tough to swallow.
Often, excessive waste happens when we:
- Buy food without checking what's in the cupboard first
- Get tempted by sales or promotional offers on items we don't need
- Go food shopping on an empty stomach
- Impulse-buy clothing or homewares when we feel bored, angry, or upset
To save goods from landfill, plan your shopping ahead of time.
Write down what you've run out of and what you already have stocked up.
Running low on toiletries? Don't buy in bulk too often. Do you really need three bottles of shower gel? You might never use them, in which case they end up in the bin.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. It can be difficult but try to avoid attractive offers if you could live without them.
Every brand new item you buy comes at a heavy cost to the planet.
This is especially true for clothing and homewares with fashion being one of the most polluting industries on the planet.
Before you splurge on a brand new item, consider shopping secondhand.
With the popularity of charity shopping and online marketplaces like Gumtree and Depop, it's easy to find what you need.
- Saves items that would otherwise end up in landfill
- You can find higher-end items that last longer, for cheaper
Don't be tempted to buy more than you need because it seems like a 'bargain'.
When you purchase something from overseas, whether it's cheap fast-fashion or out-of-season produce at the supermarket - it's damaging the planet.
They have to be packaged, stored in refrigeration units, and shipped across sea, air, or road.
This creates excessive pollution, high energy consumption, and more waste.
Shopping locally means you cut out all of those harmful processes while supporting smaller businesses.
Reusable and sustainable materials
Instead of single-use plastics and paper, can you opt for more sustainable materials?
Many fabrics now include recycled fibres, bamboo, or old plastics.
Eco-friendly alternatives are renewable, create less waste and use less energy to manufacture.
There are reusable versions for almost everything, too.
Here are some simple swaps:
- Instead of plastic cutlery, use bamboo or reusable titanium
- Pick kitchen sponges and face cloths that you can wash and reuse
- Opt for washable sanitary products instead of disposable
- Ditch bottled water - use a glass or metal flask
- Use bags for life and reusable produce bags when grocery shopping
Many people throw all of their plastic packaging into their recycling bin without a second thought.
Although some plastics are useful, almost all non-recyclable plastic ends up in landfill.
Only a few kinds of plastic are recyclable, so if in doubt - check the label.
If you can, opt for items that don't have excess plastic packaging.
Small, regular choices add up to big positive impacts on our planet.
Shop local, buying only what you need.
Where you can, be aware of excess plastic packaging, and choose reusable items to save on pollution.
Finally, plan ahead to only buy things you really need.