Shopping for sustainability

Shopping forms part of the average person’s weekend routine.  But have you given your shopping habits some thought, especially how you can shop sustainably? (If you want to go one step back to understanding sustainability, read this series).  Follow this advice to make sure that sustainability remains at the top of your shopping list:

  • Buy products made of recycled material (products made of recycled material is often label as such).  Products made with recycled materials help conserve natural resources such as water, energy, and wood.
  • Know if and how you can recycle products before buying it.
  • Consider the packaging: buy products with less or none packaging, or packaging suitable for re-use.
  • Disposable means more waste, and our environment is already staggering from our waste generation habits (read this series on waste to learn more).  Buy products that you know you can re-use.
  • Buy products with recognised environmental accreditation and sustainability standards.
  • Supporting local producers is a sure way to buy sustainable produce – transport and energy needs are significantly lower for local produce.
  • Support shops and retailers that are boldly sustainable – showing commitment and public declarations on how they are contributing to sustainability.
  • Opt for sustainable clothing – made from organic cotton or hemp; and
  • Finally, ask yourself: do I really need this? Sometimes, the sustainable option is not to buy at all!

Consuming sustainably also means that the consumer considers the product life cycle.  Educate yourself on the raw materials used during the production process, where on the globe these raw materials are sourced, where are the products manufactured and who is involved with the physical production.  Also consider the end of the product’s life – do you know how to dispose it in an environmentally responsible way? Are there any known pollution problems associated with this product?

Shopping sustainably requires some thinking.  Educate yourself and be sure to make sustainable choices when you head for your next shopping trip!


Photo credits: some rights reserved by nuchylee via

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency


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