So many of us do not recognize the power we have as individuals. They think that they are just one person in a sea of billions and that their actions can’t have a serious impact. While collective action might be more effective, your actions as an individual do matter.
Your choices as a consumer are one way you can make a big difference. From the food you eat to the trips you take, the way you spend your money can be a force for change. Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of the shoes on your feet? Have you considered sustainable sneakers as an alternative?
Maybe you are already doing things like recycling and turning off lights when you leave the room. These are positive steps toward reducing your carbon footprint. With that said, your shopping habits can have a major impact. By being a little more thoughtful about the things you buy, you can reduce your carbon footprint and do more to save the planet.
Eat Local Food
Most people see the bounty of food at the grocery store and think very little about where it all comes from. This is a problem because so much of our food travels way too far to reach our plates. Much of the food you find at the local store actually traveled from across the country or maybe even across the planet to get the shelf.
If you want to lower the carbon footprint of your diet, you should shop for locally grown food. This food not only travels a much shorter distance to reach you, but it also tastes better and it is healthier. If you want to shop for food grown in your area, the local farmer’s market is a good place to start. There are also apps that can help you find local and seasonal produce.
Support Sustainable & Local Brands
It is easy for consumers to be tempted by fast fashion. You see the latest styles available at a low cost, and you make the purchase without thinking about it. While the impulse is understandable, the practice is bad for the environment and unsustainable. Instead of buying clothes and other fashion items on a whim, you should do a little research into sustainable brands.
Whether you are shopping for women’s sneakers, winter coats or fashion accessories, you can find a sustainable alternative. Make a list of your favorite sustainable brands and learn about the carbon footprint of different materials. When you are armed with knowledge, it is much easier to empower yourself as a sustainable shopper.
Look for Energy Efficient Appliances
It isn’t just the carbon footprint that goes into producing and shipping the products we buy. You also need to think about the carbon footprint a product has throughout its life. If you are talking about appliances and electronics, this can matter as much or more than the carbon footprint of making and shipping the item.
If you are in the market for a new refrigerator, television or even a countertop appliance, make energy consumption one of the key points in your purchasing decision. While there are other resources you could use, the Energy Star program from the EPA is a great place for getting information about energy-efficient items like appliances. Along with reducing your carbon footprint, these items can also save money on electricity.
Shop for Second-Hand Items
You don’t always have to buy an item that is new in its original packaging. In many cases, second-items can be just as good. By buying second hand, you don’t create any new carbon emissions that would go into the production process, and you are giving the item a second life.
Look for second-hand stores in your area. Along with being great for finding clothes at a discount, many of them also sell other used items that could be useful around the house. Along with a local store, you could use websites or apps for learning about and buying second-hand or other sustainable goods. If you are into travel or wellness, there is often a good market for things like second-hand luggage and used exercise equipment.
Think Sustainable While Travelling
There is nothing wrong with wanting to travel and explore the world. With that said, travel can grow your carbon footprint quickly. If you are going to travel, you can make a big difference by spending a little time making sustainable travel plans.
One tip is to travel by land on a train instead of flying when possible. If you are going to fly, stick with economy seating and try to travel a direct route. Once you are at your destination, you should also try to use public transportation instead of taxis or rental cars. Also, stick with your habit of eating local food. If you need help, you could book your trip with a sustainable travel company.
Know Your Materials
When we look at pair of shoes or a jacket, we usually think of the carbon footprint in terms of manufacturing and shipping. However, there is also the carbon footprint of the materials. It is estimated that textile production creates about 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent every year. Much of this comes down to the choices we make as consumers.
If you want to make better choices as a consumer, you need to know about the materials that have the biggest impact. Instead of shopping for synthetic materials like polyester, you should look for things like organic cotton, hemp or silk.
Knowing the brand is important, but you also need to know about what goes on behind the scenes. What are they doing at their factories and warehouses? Where are they sourcing their materials from? What is the carbon footprint of their shipping practices?
Many businesses are still vague when it comes to answering questions like these. However, there is a new push for supply chain transparency. Brands recognize that more consumers want to know that they are buying sustainable products, and they are making efforts to be more transparent. If a brand is truly sustainable, they should be open about things like where they get materials and how they run their factories.
As a final tip, buy less. Most of us buy so many things we don’t need or clothes items we only ever wear once. If you want to cut the carbon footprint of your shopping, one of the best ways to do it is to cut out all the things you buy but barely use. That simple step will reduce your carbon footprint and save money for things that will actually make a difference in your life.
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