Who doesn’t want to live a greener lifestyle these days? We read almost daily about the problems facing our planet, from climate change to plastic pollution in the ocean. If like most people, you’ve probably made some steps to be more sustainable in your lifestyle, whether recycling or driving your car less. However, there is one part of your life which is critical in this aspect: how you shop.
One of the biggest impacts we can have is in our spending habits. As individuals, probably our greatest power lies in our consumer dollar: the way we spend and the products we buy not only has direct impacts on the environment, but also send a message to big companies. By buying more sustainable, eco-friendly products we not only avoid the negative impacts that product may have, but we’re also telling businesses that we want them to be environmentally conscious too if they want or business.
The good news is, these don’t have to be unobtainable or difficult steps. Here are 6 sustainable products that you can easily buy to make your life more eco-friendly.
1. Bulk Foods
We all know that plastic is a big problem: we are producing 4 million tons of plastic waste each year, most of which ends up in landfills, or even worse, in the ocean. You may have already taken steps to eliminate single-use plastics, such as using reusable shopping bags, and this is a great start. However, even still, when going shopping in the supermarket it is pretty much impossible to avoid the plastic packaging which comes with just about every item. The best way to get around this is to buy bulk, and luckily bulk food stores, where you can buy loose grains, pasta, rice and more, are popping up everywhere.
2. Local Fruit and Vegetables
Having lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet is important for your health. For the health of the planet, you should also make sure that they are grown locally. Unfortunately, it has become common for fruit and vegetables to be grown in one place and shipped across the globe so that we can have any product at any time of year. However, this is also detrimental to the environment, contributing to carbon emissions and climate change. Buy locally grown fresh foods whenever you can. You’ll probably also find these taste better, as they haven’t spent weeks in storage and transport!
3. Natural Cosmetics
Natural cosmetics or natural makeup are not only the more eco-friendly option, but they are also ideal for people with sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema. There is a range of cosmetic products available these days which are based on natural ingredients, rather than the harsh chemicals normally found in traditional cosmetics. Being based on natural ingredients makes these products much better for the environment both in terms of the production process and in waste disposal, and much kinder for the skin at the same time! These products are also often vegetarian and vegan, containing no animal products, and also cruelty-free, meaning they are not tested on animals. Look out for products that are labeled “natural makeup” or which come from specific natural makeup brands.
4. Organic Cotton
You may think of cotton as being a great, natural material. However, the cotton industry has devastating effects on the environment globally, due to the high water requirements and large numbers of pesticides and chemicals used in production. Buying organic cotton products means the raw materials have been farmed in a sustainable way, with less impact on the environment. You can also look for even more environmentally-friendly alternatives, like hemp-based fabrics.
5. Green Cleaning Products
Another largely unseen way we do damage to the environment is through the products we use to clean our homes. Traditional cleaners are full of chemicals and hazards which we flush down the drain. These components then flow into our waterways such as rivers and oceans, damaging ecosystems. You can now buy “green” cleaning products off the shelf, or even make your own using simple recipes of ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar.
6. Buy Less
Ok, so this one isn’t a product or a type of product, but it is an important thing you can do to have a positive impact on the environment: buy less. One of the biggest problems with our modern, consumerist lifestyles is that we are simply buying too much stuff, whether clothes we wear only a few times, gadgets we replace regularly or household items we simply don’t need. All of this drains the planet’s resources and most of it ends up as waste that pollutes the environment. Take a step back, review your spending habits and see where you can reduce the amount of stuff you buy.