If you’re concerned about climate change, pollution or other damage we’ve done to the environment as a species, you’ve probably thought about how you can be more eco friendly. Shopping habits probably immediately come to mind. Those organic bamboo sheets look awfully nice, perhaps?
Should you be buying them?
There’s a right and a wrong way to go about buying eco friendly products. Certainly if it’s something you need, get the eco friendly version whenever possible.
But if you’re just replacing something you already own, think more carefully.
It’s good to buy eco friendly when you’re shopping, but that doesn’t mean you can just shop for whatever you want. Even eco friendly is not an excuse for consumerism.
You also want to be aware of greenwashing. So many products claim to be green, but the claims are pretty thin. Many of these claims aren’t regulated and can be put on just about anything. Don’t assume that terms such as “natural”, “green”, “nontoxic” and similar terms mean much at all. “Organic” and “recycled” are much better terms as there is some oversight on them.
You can also research the claims online. Companies that are offering products they claim are eco friendly will probably share details online, even if there’s not much information on the packaging. If not, you can probably get some good information just by searching on the product name. It’s amazing what some people can find out and will share quite freely.
Certification is good to look for too, so long as it’s a real one such as Energy Star for saving electricity.
For personal care products, check out Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Database. You’ll find out if the products have a lot of unsafe ingredients.
Do buy foods, personal care products and cleaning products in eco friendly versions when possible or make your own. These are things you use up and so you’ll probably be buying pretty regularly.
Don’t go replacing perfectly good but non-eco-friendly products just because you want the green version. If it’s still good it’s probably more green to keep it than to replace it even with the eco version. If you do get rid of things that can still be used, make sure they head to a thrift store, get sold at a garage sale or are offered on Freecycle. Someone else may still appreciate what you don’t want anymore.
There’s a balance to be had in buying more eco friendly products and in being too much of a consumer. Keep an eye on your habits so that you don’t fall into that trap.