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How to be Eco Friendly When You Shop

I’m no fan of consumerism, even the “green” sort. I prefer building a habit of living more simply. But when it comes to shopping, there are a few ways you can keep things more eco friendly.

1. Buy Used.

This one tops the list because when you buy something that’s used, you’re not buying something that has required new resources to make. You’re not directly encouraging the manufacture of more of that item.

Garage sales, thrift stores, resale shops and even eBay can be great sources for used products of all kinds.

You may find that you almost never need new clothes again. Used ones can look great and still be fashionable.

You can buy furniture, clothes, kitchen gear, appliances, cars, toys, books and much more used. Check out the shops in your area to see what you can find.

2. Buy Products Made with Recycled Materials

Shopping for products that are made from recycled materials requires a bit of paying attention. You want post consumer waste as much as possible. Recycled paper products are fairly easy to find, but other things can be made from recycled materials as well.

One of the great things about using products made with recycled materials is that they may be recyclable themselves. Not always – paper can only be recycled so many times before the fibers get too short, and plastic quality degrades with recycling. But you’re extending the use of the resource when you use recycled materials.

3. Consider the Source.

There are many ways to be more eco friendly or at least fairer to the people who made the things you buy. You can buy locally. You can buy organic. You can buy fair trade. You can buy handcrafted products from home businesses.

While each of these can have more or less benefit to the environment, it’s important to realize that you can consider the people as well as the planet when you shop.

4. Is It Renewable?

Many products are made from non renewable resources. If there’s an alternative made from a renewable resource, in an eco friendly sense that’s probably your best choice.

Renewable resources aren’t a perfect answer in all cases, however. Many biofuels come from corn that might better be used as a source of food. Consider the source at all times.

5. Is It Needed?

This is the question you need to ask yourself before you buy, even if the results are otherwise eco friendly. Just because the clothes you’re buying come from a thrift store or garage sale doesn’t mean you need a gigantic wardrobe. You can of course keep sending the things you no longer need back to the thrift store, but then you’re wasting your own money, aren’t you?

6. Does It Replace Waste in Another Area?

Some things you should buy because they keep you from being wasteful in some other way. Reusable shopping bags, stainless steel bottles, reusable lunch bags, anything that keeps you from picking up the convenient but wasteful disposable versions are likely to be a good purchase.

Eco friendly shopping doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun shopping. It just means paying a bit more attention and not going for every quick solution that comes your way. There are amazing products you can buy out there that are beautiful, functional and made in a way that was kind to the environment.

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