Simple Steps. Big Impact.

Use your purchasing power to support a healthy planet

Here’s the big question:

Do you really need the item you’re planning on buying?

Is there another option that won’t take earthly resources to manufacture?

Can you get a re-purposed, pre-owned, or different product instead? Fire up those brain cells and unearth that tucked-away can of elbow grease and get creative!

And then take a quiet moment before you add it to your cart and ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy this?”

If the answer is “Yes”, then here’s the next question …

What companies do you want to do business with?

You have a choice in every purchase you make, including the choice of which companies you want to give your money to.

Here are some “food for thought” topics that can multiply the impact of your spending by helping you decide which companies you want to support.

Don’t worry, you do NOT have to become an expert about the company behind every product you purchase!

Here are some respected organizations who are in business to do just that on your behalf!

 Look for certifications like these:

No animal testingCertified B Corporation: Doing Business for Good Forest Stewardship CouncilCradle to Cradle Certified Fair Trade Certified World Fair Trade Organization Global Organic Textile Standard  Green America Fair for LifeCertified Humane: meats and poultry

When you’re in the shopping aisle, trying to decipher each of these can be very consuming!

So have a link to EcoLabel Index saved in your phone or download their easy-to-use app and you can look them up on the spot.

And if you’re shopping online, take a look around their website and notice if making a difference is a part of their core values.

 What efforts do they make in their manufacturing and operations to minimize their impact on the earth?

  • If they make wood products, are they Forest Stewardship Council Certified?
  • If they ship packages, do they encourage and support Carbon-neutral shipping?
  • Check out their website: do they have a public policy for implementing clean energy initiatives, waste and energy reduction, recycling, etc.?

How do they treat the humans and animals that are impacted by doing business?

 Do they embed compassion for all living beings into their processes?

Whoa, this sounds like a lot of work!

It does sound a little overwhelming, doesn’t it?

So let’s keep with our EnviroTips’ motto:

Simple Steps. Big Impact.

and point you to a way to get enough information that’s not too much work, and that will remind you that the rewards to the planet are well worth your time.

Easy peasy: how to begin

Ok, pick just one product that you buy on a regular basis.

Let’s take shampoo as an example.

Look at the bottle of shampoo you’re using now.

  • What symbols and logos are on the bottle that let you know the manufacturer cares about you and the planet?
  • Are there symbols for Fair Trade? Sustainability? No Animal Testing?
  • Look at the list of ingredients. Are any shown as organic? Can you pronounce most of the words?
  • How much packaging did it come in and is it recyclable where you live?
  • Does the company support a worthwhile charity with its profits?
  • Are there typical “greenwashing” words that catch your eye like “all natural”, “earth-friendly”, “eco-anything” and here’s more.

Wondering where to shop to find these products? Try an internet search on “what stores carry fair trade shampoo in [your city name]?”

If you want to go deeper, visit the Environmental Working Group site where you’ll find in-depth studies and research about products like this.


What if the “green” option feels too expensive?

This is where you step back from all the comparisons and research and just sit with how it feels and how much it costs before you make the decision.

There is a true financial value to creating products that reflect these values.

If you can afford the extra expense to purchase from companies who have a heart, over time you’ll help bring the prices down via supply & demand. It’s plain old economics.

What if you’re on a tight budget?

Take a deep breath and remember that one simple step at a time is a powerful way to go.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Look at other similar products.  Is there one that would be a second or third best option that still feels comfortable for you and is in your price range?
  • Can you purchase in a larger quantity at a reduced rate or from a discount house?
  • If it’s cheaper in a larger size or by ordering in quantity, do you have friends or family who might be interested in going in with you on the purchase?
  • Is there some other expense in your life that you could give up or put off in order to make this purchase?
  • Share your insight and knowledge with others: maybe they’ll change their purchasing habits too! And you get extra EnviroTip points for their purchases without having to spend the money yourself!

If you can only afford to buy the top “green” choice for 1 out every 10 or 20 purchases, you’re still making an important difference that will accumulate over time.

Want to know more about Greenwashing?

It’s a crazy thing to think that businesses would intentionally lead its customers down the metaphoric garden path, knowing that most people do care about the impact of the purchasing choices they make.

So here are a few links to Greenwashing sites and a way to refine your BS detector …

If you find a product that you just love but feel like it’s not all that earth-friendly, consider contacting the manufacturer and expressing your concerns.  Be sure to let them know what it is you DO love about the product. And let them know what bothers you. You just might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction, and your call might be the one that helps a company make that important shift in perspective.

What if you can’t decide?

Honestly, you can only do so much!

There comes a moment when you’ve had enough. Where you just have to say to yourself, “I’ve researched as much as I’m willing and able to do and I’m just going to trust my instincts and let it go!”

Forgive yourself and know that, like anything else, this process gets easier as you practice it.

The very best thing you can do for the planet is just set an intention to care about what you buy and from whom.

Each step you take is of great value to the planet!

Resource List

Greenwashing

Comment on this EnviroTip article

Please comment below and let us know what works for you and what you tried that wasn’t so successful.

Check out our other EnviroTips articles too!

The Resilient Activist

The Resilient Activist enjoys sharing inspiring and nature-aware content from around the globe.  Hope you've enjoyed this article!
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