We all know that the environment is suffering. It’s become quite evident that over the last century, humanity’s disregard for its effect on the environment has played a role in causing countless issues: polluted air, tainted waters, loss of habitat, extinctions, overflowing landfills… to name a few! Psychologically, it’s hard to stomach how each of us individually might be adding to the environment’s destruction.
Though you and I aren’t directly responsible for the way our species has evolved or treated our planet in the past, we are responsible for doing the best we can to live in harmony with it now. With that said- to live a carbon neutral life isn’t necessarily possible for a lot of people. Some may be able to convert homes into 100% renewable energy, grow all of their own organic food, or travel by electric car, but for the majority of society this is an ideal, not an immediate reality. You and I can do our part, even if it’s by making small changes. With so many ways to lead a greener life, it’s hard to know where to start. One good place to begin is putting more green thought towards how you spend your money. The good news is that most companies have heard society’s cry for environmentally friendly products, and have made it incredibly easy to find them.
Here are a few tips for shopping in a “green” way:
- Bring your own bag
Some stores offer discounts for using your own bag… and some don’t even provide bags anymore!
- Whenever possible, buy local
Towns all over the world have their own farmers markets and flea markets. When you purchase local foods and goods, you are supporting your community rather than a giant corporation that may not have a great environmental track record.
- Food is nature’s medicine: eat organic and grass-fed
- Smaller farms may not be able to afford organic certification, but a lot of them use organic farming methods. If you can buy your produce at farmers markets, just ask them- they’re always happy to speak with you.
- Avoid industrially grown produce and industrially raised meats. I encourage you to go to your local library and pick up a book on the subject, or watch a documentary…there are plenty out there! It will truly transform your life…and you will probably learn things that shock you.
- Think seasonally
- The changing seasons bring a degree of excitement with them- the taste of pumpkins in the fall, fresh strawberries in summer…if every season provided the same feelings, life would be dull!
- It’s no lie that the concept of eating seasonally doesn’t really apply in a world in which grocery stores sell berries year-round. The truth is, foods taste better in the season that they naturally grow in. Learn what foods grow in your region each season, and make them exciting again!
- Not only do seasonally grown foods taste better, but they aren’t always shipped in from far-off regions in which they can still grow. This has a huge effect environmentally- it takes a lot of fuel to transport foods long distances.
- Recycle and Reuse
- Especially with electronics, raw materials are becoming more and more scarce. When you go to buy a new cell phone, computer, iPad, etc, ask how you can recycle your old one. Oftentimes the stores will either buy them from you or dispose of them on your behalf.
- Before you decide to buy something, ask yourself if you have the means to repurpose what you might already have to do the job. Also, think about what you throw away or recycle- used jars can be extremely useful! Try looking on Pinterest for some interesting DIY projects with commonly recycled materials. Not only will it be rewarding…you’ll save money and have fun activities for your kids!
- Read the packaging: products made with recycled materials are much better for the environment.
- Strive to live more simply
For most people, a day doesn’t go by that you aren’t exposed to hundreds of advertisements for various things. We are constantly shown what we could buy to improve our lives. Though I’m a huge proponent of treating yourself to something out of the norm once in a while, try to adopt a mentality of simplicity. When you’re deciding to make a purchase, always ask yourself: “do I really need this?” Trust me- you’ll save money, make purchases that will more often enrich your life, and have less clutter in your home.
- Be a responsible shopper: do your research
Though a lot of companies use trustworthy advertising to promote their “green” product lines, this isn’t always the case. If you aren’t sure if a product’s claims are legitimate, try looking on their website for more information, or give them a call.