Tag Archives: green shopping

7 Ways to Have a More Eco Friendly Black Friday

Here comes one of the biggest shopping days of the year – Black Friday. It’s a time when many people go wild with their Christmas shopping, determined to get the best bargains, even if that means shopping all night at one of the many stores that plans to be open all night that night. If you don’t like the ridiculous overspending encouraged by Black Friday, why not rebel and find something to do that’s easier on the environment?

1. Participate in Buy Nothing Day

In North America, Buy Nothing Day is the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday. If you don’t approve of joining the crowds, show it, even if you plan to do Christmas shopping later. Just refuse to shop on Black Friday.

I love Buy Nothing Day because it means I can sit back and enjoy family at a time that’s a little quieter than Thanksgiving itself. Leftovers mean that meals are often easy to come by, and we’ve all done our holiday routine. Why hurry into the rush of the holiday season when you can ease yourself into it only as far as necessary? Take this day off.

2. Make homemade gifts.

If you’re into crafts, cooking and so forth, why not start work on your homemade gifts? I’m making a beautiful hair stick pair for my oldest daughter… good thing she doesn’t read my websites, I can say things like that. She has wanted one for ages. Might have to hand it over a bit before the holiday so she can wear it for Christmas.

3. Go shopping at thrift and resale stores.

Rather than buy new, see what you can find used to give as Christmas gifts. You may be able to find some gifts that are quite affordable used, but would be prohibitively expensive if bought new. Know your audience and go for it.

You may also be able to find great used items on sites such as eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle and so forth.

4. Buy warm clothes and bedding.

Want to save a little on your heating bills this winter? Seek out deals on warmer clothes and blankets for your bed. The warmer you dress, the less you have to heat your house to keep comfortable. Same goes for your bed when you go to sleep at night.

5. Go hiking.

Why stay indoors when you can get outside. Whether or not you can reasonably go hiking depends, of course, on your local weather, but if it’s just a matter of bundling up you may still be able to have some fun out there. Keep it safe and respect local conditions, of course.

6. Volunteer.

Have a cause you’d like to support? Get out and help it rather than go shopping. You could also join one of the Occupy groups if that’s an interest of yours, just for the day or longer if you like. Just do something that is your way of trying to make this world a little better.

7. Seek out eco friendly products – cautiously.

If you really need to get out into the sales, look for the eco friendly options out there. That may include a lot of online shopping, which allows you to avoid the crowds, plus you don’t have to drive anywhere.

It also means you can more easily seek out eco friendly products. Do be careful, as there’s so little regulation of green claims. See if there are any great deals on eco friendly products. Remember to include toys for the kids in your search. Places to shop include (I don’t know who all will be having Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales):

Greenbatteries Store
Ethical Ocean
Earth Divas
Gifts With Humanity
Amazon Green

Why Are We Addicted to Cheap?

Price is a big factor when most of us go shopping, especially if the budget is tight. It makes a lot of financial sense to go for cheaper items when they’re available. If you want to consider ethics, however, cheap isn’t always the way to go. Despite this, many people are addicted to cheap products.

Cheap products can be ethically challenging due to the circumstances under which they’re made. It’s not just the environmental issues, although those are important. It’s the human rights issues, products being made under sweatshop conditions and/or with child labor. It’s the humane treatment of animals.

Paying just a bit more for clothing and other products could go toward significantly improving the living conditions of the people who create these products. Unfortunately, it’s not just price; it’s also the willingness of the business to pay their workers well. Clothing made for Ralph Lauren can be just as problematic as clothes made to be sold at Walmart.

How Can You Keep Your Shopping More Ethical?

Ethics aren’t an easy thing to manage when you’re just trying to keep your family going. You don’t have a lot of extra money to spend sometimes. Even so, there are ways you can buy more ethical products without breaking the bank. It’s one of your few chances to buy cheap while doing good for others.

When it comes to clothing and other reusable products, shopping in thrift stores is often your best choice in terms of ethics and budget. It’s much cheaper than shopping anywhere else, and the money goes to support what are usually good causes in your area.

You can also check out the social responsibility of different companies online. Better World Shopper and Green America offer resources to help you with this.

Supporting co-ops is another good way to go. This isn’t just about food. Many fair trade products are made by co-ops.

Watch Out for False Claims

If you don’t know much about the brand you’re buying, just that they claim to be green or eco in some way, watch out for false or misleading claims. Too many times these claims are poorly regulated at best. If you don’t have time to do the research before purchase or at that moment, keep it in mind for the future.

At the same time, remember that you can’t always make the perfect ethical choice. Better products may not be readily available to you in your area, and you can’t always wait for shipping. Do your best with what’s available to you.

Thrift Store Shopping Shouldn’t Make You Feel Poor

The problem some people have with thrift store shopping is that they feel it’s something poor people do. There’s the image of a dirty store with old, unwanted clothing. When you find a good thrift store in your area, you’ll find that the reality is far from that image.

There are a lot of very good reasons to shop at thrift stores. Being poor or just on a really tight budget are good reasons, but there are others.

You could just be aware of good deals. Many times you can find brand name merchandise in good condition at a thrift store. Why would you pay full price if you can get it just a little later at the thrift store for a few dollars?

You might enjoy it as a treasure hunt. It’s not just clothes you can find at the thrift store, but items for all around the house.

You could go thrift shopping as a small way to support a charity you approve of. They usually are for good causes, such as the job training Goodwill does.

You could go thrift shopping because you want to be more environmentally friendly. Reusing is certainly better than buying new.

In so many ways, thrift store shopping is the smartest way to start your search for many items, especially clothing. Once you know where the good stores are you won’t need to go all over town trying to figure them out. There can certainly be particular stores that get the best stuff in an area or that get picked over too quickly.

If you know what days they get and put out deliveries, that can be a huge help to your thrift shopping success. The best things will of course go more quickly. If you’re looking for trendy clothes, getting to them fast may make them easier to find. Sometimes you even luck into clothes with the tags still on.

Certainly you have to be picky about which thrift stores you shop at. It’s often clear when management just tries to sell everything and doesn’t worry about what’s in working condition or otherwise usable.If the one nearest you has awful merchandise, look around until you find one that has the good stuff. They’re out there.

You can of course go to the big names in the business, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but most areas will have smaller charities that run thrift stores as well. Don’t rule any of them out, especially if a good one supports a cause you love.

Why Don’t People Buy Environmentally Friendly Products?

Lots of people want to be more environmentally friendly. Not everyone; in fact, some are downright opposed to the idea, and strongly. But even those who want to be more eco friendly in their homes won’t buy the products. Why is that?


Confusion may be a large part of the problem. The various claims are confusing and often misleading. People don’t always know which products are really eco friendly versus merely being greenwashed.

Uncertainty About Quality

Many people aren’t at all certain that eco friendly products are going to be as good as conventional products. Conventional products are comfortable to use, and people know what they do. They’ve been using them after all.

Eco friendly products, on the other hand, are less well known. Many people don’t have a friend familiar enough with the products to share success stories or to say to avoid particular products that don’t work so well.

Many eco friendly products are not advertised in the same way conventional products are. You don’t see them on television so much unless they’re made by one of the big brands. While some don’t like to admit it, such advertising has a big effect on how products are viewed.

Hard to See Personal Benefit

Telling someone that a product benefits the environment is great. Lots of people like to hear that. But it’s hard to get people to take action without a quickly obvious personal benefit.

That’s much harder to demonstrate, as the basic benefit of using an environmentally friendly product is about the same as using a conventional product. The potential long term personal health benefits and benefits to the environment are much harder to see.


Eco friendly products are perceived as more expensive. That’s because many of the most visible products do cost more. Organic cotton products cost more. Hybrid cars cost more. Solar panels are expensive.

Yet many eco friendly products are easily affordable. Vinegar and baking soda work very well as cleaning products, but many people aren’t aware that they can be used in this way or that they do such a good job. Other eco friendly products can also be affordable.

“One Person Can’t Make a Difference”

Many people feel that what they do personally doesn’t make a significant difference. They’re both right and wrong about that.

Choosing eco friendly products can be better for your health, and while you can’t define that difference much of the time, it can be a difference.

But even more important is that as each individual makes the choice of buying eco friendly products shows businesses that it’s worth their time and money to provide eco friendly products. Choosing to do business with companies with eco friendly practices makes it worth their while to continue to improve those practices. It takes more than one to make that difference, but if individuals don’t make those choices, the pressure never builds up on the businesses to make the change.

Are You Replacing Too Much in an Attempt to be Green?

Living an eco friendly life is complicated at times. There are usually a lot of things you want to buy that are more eco friendly than what you own now, but when is that the right choice? When does it make more sense environmentally speaking to buy new?

Appliances and Electronics – It’s Not All About Efficiency

Replacing appliances and electronics can be a tough decision, and much of it depends on just how bad the old version is. Really old refrigerators are likely good prospects for replacement when you’re ready. Newer models are much more efficient and you should quickly see a decrease in your power bills. Just make sure the old one is sent off to a good recycling program.

Laptop computers are much more efficient in terms of energy use than desktop models, but that’s not necessarily a good reason to change computers. Could you improve the energy use of your desktop by turning off more often, and even switching off the power to its surge suppressor so there’s no standby power use or power used by anything else plugged into the same strip such as the monitor and printer?

Electronics can be problematic in general due to recycling issues. When it comes time to replace some of your old electronics, make sure you think about how you’re disposing of the old. There are some pretty toxic metals inside them.


Getting rid of plastics is an environmental issue and possibly a health issue as well. People can argue about whether or not BPA is a problem, but there’s no denying that plastic is an environmental problem. Search for pictures of the Pacific Garbage Patch if you doubt that.

They’re incredibly hard to get rid of completely. Plastic comes into our homes in so many ways.

Plastic wraps some of the foods we buy from the grocery store. It’s used in the bags many stores use when you make a purchase. It’s used in water bottles and food storage containers. It’s used to make bottles that hold cleaning and personal care supplies. It’s all over the place.

Some areas it’s easy to say that you should buy something to replace the plastic you’d be using otherwise. A good quality reusable shopping bag – not one of the cheapies sold by the grocery store for a dollar, but a good one – should last a long time, be washable and keep you from having your purchases put into a plastic bag.

A stainless steel water bottle is a great replacement for buying disposable plastic water bottles. Pick good quality and it will last for years. You’ll even save money over time in comparison to buying water in disposable bottles. And I don’t mean all that much time if you’ve been buying a lot of water.

Invest in a good filter if you really aren’t used to the flavor of tap water. Plastic may be involved in at least the casing of the filter, but as I’ve said – it’s really hard to avoid plastics.


If you’re replacing perfectly good clothes with eco friendly versions, you may be doing it wrong. What you have has already done whatever environmental damage inherent in its creation. So long as you choose eco friendly laundry detergents, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to use what you have until it wears out.

When to Replace?

In general, save the eco friendly shopping for when something really needs replacement. Don’t go chasing after the latest, greatest eco friendly whatever. That’s called consumerism and it’s very easy to fall for.

When you’re replacing something, think about how you’re disposing of it. Could you or someone else reuse or repurpose it? Can it be recycled? Is it honestly just trash?

Use things until they really aren’t worth keeping, and then think if they need to be replaced. Sometimes reduce is the real answer. Buying just because it’s the latest eco item to catch your attention is not a good reason to buy anything.