Earth911 honors 52 years of Earth Day with 52 Earth Actions. Each week leading up to Earth Day 2023, we’ll share one action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your life more sustainable. Too often, sustainability is presented as an extra thing to do. But sustainability isn’t an extra step, it’s how you take each step. This week you can invest in the Earth by learning how to buy more sustainably.
Action: Learn to shop more sustainably
Whatever you’re looking for, sustainable shopping starts in your head. Before making a specific purchase, ask yourself four questions to assess your decision. A little information goes a long way in helping you shop for your values. Discover the different certification systems. What is TCO certification? What does it mean for a home to be LEED certified? Are all cruelty-free labels equal?
Before you make any major purchases, study Earth911’s buying guides to inform your choices of appliances and home improvements, from mattresses to patio pavers and refrigerators. It also makes sense to pay extra attention to small purchases that you make frequently. Little things like paper towels can really add up over time. Earth911’s greener shopping items focus deeply on individual items, from coffee to shampoo. And of course, we can all learn to produce less plastic pollution. Food and clothing are two purchase categories that can have an outsized impact.
The environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry is shocking. Consumers who ditch fast fashion and commit to building a more sustainable wardrobe can make a difference. EarthDay.org sustainable shopping toolkit gives good guidelines: buy less, buy locally and second-hand. Choose natural fibers over synthetics and choose organic when you can. Learn to take care of your clothes so they last a long time, and trade them in or sell them if you can’t keep them until they wear out.
The two main actions people can take to reduce their food footprint are eliminating animal products from their diets and reducing food waste. Even if you’re not ready to stop eating meat, you can switch to a plant-based diet through Meatless Mondays or Meatless Breakfasts. Eating less meat not only reduces your climate emissions, but can also improve your physical and mental health.
There are countless ways to reduce food waste, which benefits your budget as well as the environment. Use helpful apps and learn how meal planning keeps you from buying too much while cooking ahead lets you use what you buy. Learn how to store produce so it lasts longer and how to use leftovers to further reduce food waste.
How you shop
A big part of sustainable shopping is choosing to buy less and choosing more sustainable products. But you can further reduce your customer footprint by examining the “how” of your buying habits. Carrying reusable shopping bags is an obvious first step. Figure out when it’s best to buy online rather than in person and always try to avoid online returns; find out if your groceries need to be delivered; and think about how you get to the store and how many trips you take.
No matter how much or how much you buy, you can do it more sustainably. Let this be the week you learn how.