7 Habits of Sustainable Shoppers

June 25, 2021

Women holding a black and tan raffia basket with limes and lemons. Lightbox image of salad servers and yellow napkin set.  Text reads

As we step up our summer shopping - whether it's routine errands or treating ourselves at a boutique - keeping sustainability front of mind can make a huge difference. A few small shifts in shopping habits can make a bigger difference for the planet than you might think.

Certain types of shopping, like online shopping from massive retailers, can have an especially negative impact on the environment. So what can we do? We can use our purchasing power for as much good as possible and make sustainable shopping choices whenever we have the option to do so.

Here are a few steps you can take to be a more sustainable shopper this summer.

Shop Local
Supporting local businesses is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. This helps your surrounding community thrive, and supports small businesses at a time when they need it most. If there’s something you’re tempted to order from a big box store or larger website, pause and consider whether the same option might be available through a local business.

Look For Traceable Details On Every Product
Many brands are now offering sustainability info about their products right on the labels with a QR code or website link leading to supply chain information, details about materials used, and other notes. Whenever possible, take a look at these notes so you’ll know the product’s origin and will be able to spot truly sustainable brands over those that are greenwashing.

Buy Carbon Offsets
If you’re booking a flight or purchasing any other big-ticket item, take note of whether carbon offsets are an option with your purchase. When you buy carbon offsets, you compensate for the emissions of your purchase by canceling out emissions elsewhere in the world. Brands like TerraPass and Klima can help walk you through the process.

Shop In Season
When you’re buying produce or plants, aim to buy what’s in season. Opt for locally grown to reduce the emissions of goods grown elsewhere being transported across oceans and states. (In June, that means stocking up on locally grown strawberries, peaches, and blueberries!)

Seek Out Certifications
Product certifications like OEKO-TEX, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Fair Trade clarify that a company has hit a set of high standards in their production process. Certifications for textiles seek out whether products were made with harmful chemicals, and whether materials are organic. Fair Trade certifications seek to ensure that products are made by fairly paid workers in safe, sustainable factories.

Be Picky About Your Clothes
Aim to buy clothes made of organic cotton and other naturally occurring fibers. Clothes made from synthetic materials are more likely to have made a big environmental impact - think polyester and rayon. While manufacturers are regularly brainstorming innovative synthetic materials that are kinder to the planet, this isn’t the case for most polyester and rayon clothes. If there’s an outfit you love made of these materials, see if you can buy them secondhand!

Shop With Reusable Bags
This one might seem like a given, but it’s not yet a habit everywhere. Pack reusable tote bags (we especially love the kind that fold up snugly when not being used) on every shopping trip to help reduce plastic bags and waste.

Choose Eco-Friendly Packaging When Possible
If you’re shopping online, opt for brands that use recycled packaging and the most eco-friendly delivery options possible. More often than not, brands committed to sustainability will share their packaging and delivery methods right on their websites, so the information shouldn’t be too tough to find.

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