8 ways to shop eco-smart

July 29, 2015

With an ever-growing selection of products promoted as environmentally friendly, the myriad choices can make "green" shopping a confusing experience. Here are eight ways you can make eco-friendly purchasing decisions.

8 ways to shop eco-smart

1. Do your research

Before making any major purchase, do your research. Avoid buying in a hurry and don't be persuaded by overzealous salespeople. If necessary, sleep on it.

2. Factor in all the costs

Consider the initial price and subsequent running costs of any item you plan to buy. Many environmentally preferred products – such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) – cost more to buy, but they can save you money in the long run.

3. Consider a product's materials

Select products made from renewable resources, such as plantation timber, wool or silk.

4. Choose items that are built to last

A sofa with a hardwood or steel frame is generally more durable than one made of softwood or chipboard, which may warp or break easily. You may pay more up front, but a well-made piece will last longer.

5. Opt for reusable rather than disposable

Buy washable cloth towels, handkerchiefs, serviettes and cleaning cloths rather than single-use paper varieties. Similarly, purchasing reusable cups and cutlery rather than disposable ones will help you cut down on the waste that ends up in landfills.

6. Buy local produce that is in season

In-season produce from local sources is usually cheaper and fresher than produce imported from afar, and it often has less impact on the environment. Farmers' markets and roadside stalls are good sources, and some supermarkets also buy from local producers. Local food co-ops are another great option if there is one in your neighbourhood.

7. Look for natural ingredients

Look for all-natural, fully biodegradable, non-toxic products that break down without leaving harmful residues in the environment. While most materials will biodegrade eventually, some leave toxic residues.

8. Avoid excessive packaging

Avoid products that have excessive or non-biodegradable packaging. Significant amounts of energy are used in manufacturing packaging and these materials also add to the cost of the item you are buying. You can help cut this kind of waste by purchasing refillable containers.

Eco-friendly shopping can be challenging given the endless choices available in the market. However, by following the eight eco-smart suggestions above, you will be well on your way to making the world a greener place via your purchasing decisions.

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