Real Ways to Become a Sustainable Shopper

Real Ways to Become a Sustainable Shopper

Miyana Bahl & Maggie Ngo, Staff Writers

People always talk about being a sustainable shopper, but what does this actually mean and how can you help along this journey? Shopping sustainably is to realize that everything you do and buy impacts our world and creates an environmental impact. Everyone should learn how to shop sustainably, so here are a few tips on how you can achieve this.

Shop Online from Secondhand Stores

One way to sustainably shop that is extremely affordable and trendy is shopping secondhand online. Secondhand shopping online can be easier and more curated than in a secondhand store. From vintage denim to Lululemon activewear, secondhand online shops have it all. To name a few of these websites, there is:  Depop, Curtsy, Thred Up, Poshmark, TheRealReal, and many more. Finding what works for you helps you buy clothes for less money that are better for the earth. Curtsy is constantly refreshing their listings, while TheRealReal sells designer luxury brands. Shopping secondhand gives a new life to all sorts of clothes that might work for you. 

Being able to separate the things you love from the things you like is an important skill when it comes to life, and shopping. 

— Maggie Ngo and Miyana Bahl

Filter Out Your Loves and Likes

When shopping it can be overwhelming because there are so many different options of clothes that you can choose from. When we shop, we do not want to over consume and do large hauls. They are okay every once in a while, but if we are constantly purchasing tons of clothes, we are going to pollute the environment with large amounts of carbon emissions. Deciding what you really love will help you get clothes you will always wear, save money, and be more earth conscious. Being able to separate the things you love from the things you like is an important skill when it comes to life, and shopping. 

Purchase Reusable Household Items

Aside from clothing, we want to aim to be more sustainable in our everyday lives. Buying reusable items that will not need to be thrown away as fast as disposable items is one way to do this. When we use reusable items, we are preserving the earth’s non renewable resources and saving energy. Items people never expect can be bought and used multiple times. Reusable cups, bags, utensils, water bottles, shopping bags and so many other items can replace our single-use products. It may seem like these small actions won’t change the earth, but they will create small little impacts everyday. They also might inspire others to start buying reusable items. 

Shopping Small and Locally

Buying from small businesses is good for the community and better for the environment. When you shop locally, you are reducing the amount of miles that your product has to be transferred. A local shop does not pollute the earth as much as large billion dollar companies, and it directly boosts the creator. Small businesses are a way to support hard-working people. When we buy locally, we are purchasing handmade items that are not machine made. 

Know Where You Are Shopping

Before going into a store or buying from a website, make sure you do your research on the sustainability of their clothes. Stick to stores and websites that promote sustainability and are certified in areas of environmental consciousness. Doing a little research to help ensure that you are not hurting the earth won’t hurt you. Make sure that the resources you use are insightful and accurate. If you are trying to figure out the sustainability of a store and are unable to figure it out, it is likely that the one you are looking for is not eco-friendly. Don’t trust everything you hear on the internet and shop consciously.

Watch Out For Greenwashing!

Sometimes, companies will claim to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes. They often deceive customers with pictures of nature and life, misleading comments, and more. To make sure the businesses you are shopping are green watch out for phrasing, don’t assume they are green just by their word, look for minimal packaging, and look for correct certification such as:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification
  • Green Seal
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified

Greenwashing is sometimes hard to notice and easy to get away with, so make sure you know your sources and websites that you are shopping from.

Wait To Place A Bigger Order

Instead of always buying things online just as you want or need them, wait until your cart has everything you want. By purchasing things slower you can decrease the amount of traveling and packaging needed to deliver your items. If you buy impulsively, delivery trucks need to make more trips, and your products will require multiple packages. Also, buying on impulsivity increases the need for more returns, thus meaning more wasted packaging and even more trips to return what you bought. If you wait to place an order, everything you bought can be packed into one box and it will take one trip to reach you.

Make Things Last

When making “keep” or “toss” piles, consider if things are still usable. If it’s broken, do you need to trash it, or can you fix it? Don’t assume that items are immediately useless if they start to break and consider all options before purchasing new ones. Also, with clothes, instead of buying new clothes all the time, consider if old clothes are still wearable. Keep clothes that will last longer and don’t replace them constantly. Similarly, if you think you need a new phone, try making yours last another year, and then you can upgrade. Making things last is an important quality and skill to have when it comes to sustainably shopping.

Shopping sustainably is not hard and requires little effort to help make a difference in the world. Next time you go shopping, consider these points and try to work this into your shopping routines!