Every time we buy something we make a choice. A choice between something that’s better or worse for the planet and ourselves. Sugary drinks in a single use plastic bottle? Worse for us and the planet. Refiling our reusable water bottle, better for both. It extends beyond impulse choices. Chemical-free, locally sourced, and sustainably packaged products exist, but they take more time and effort to find.
Here are a few ideas to help you shop smarter for the planet:
Start breaking old habits. Do toothbrushes really have to be plastic? No, there are great options like Brush with Bamboo. Can you start buying some of your staples in the bulk aisle? Probably. If you are like me a lot of your shopping choices are made from habit. I still buy some of the same products I’ve used since childhood. That can be a good thing, but make sure there aren’t better choices out there.
Where you shop. Our dollars have the power to change the way things are run if we use them wisely. For me it was making a left hand turn, instead of a right at a tricky intersection and going to our local coop instead of the large chain store. I’d been grocery shopping at chain stores because you can get everything in one stop. But when I realized my dollars went further and supported local farmers and small businesses when I stayed local, I decided it was worth the extra effort, and possibly a second trip later to get additional items on the list.
How you shop. I realized I needed to give more time and thought to what I was buying before I bought it. The reality is the best products available often aren’t on the shelf in front of you. Especially if you don’t live in a big city. Internet shopping can be an amazing resource to finding sustainable goods. However, if you are easily distracted on line, or find your eyes glazing over, there are people who have done the work for you. You can download apps like Think Dirty and The Choice App. They tell you know how a product you’re considering rates and give you alternative options so you can shop smarter for the planet.
Prepping to shop. On a good day I manage to make a list before I go to the store, but really that’s only the first step. Having reusable bags in the car, empty containers if your store has bulk options, and reusable produce bags are an important part of the prep process. Without them your low waste, plastic free options will be more limited. It’s not just for the grocery store, keep bags in your purse for errand running. They will help you make it out of the store without plastic bags or having to juggle items while you look for your keys.
While Shopping. You race down the aisles searching for an ingredient for an appetizer for the potluck that you really don’t want to attend. When you find it a wall of options confront you. Take a second and select the product that isn’t in plastic. Cardboard, glass or metal are all better packaging alternatives.
None of this was written to make anyone feel guilty for the choices they have made. I think we should celebrate our #easywins for the environment, the times we slow down and shop smarter for the planet. Each plastic bottle saved from a landfill, every plastic bag refused should be cause for joy. Each conscious choice should make us feel good about ourselves and our planet.