Shopping responsibly to promote a better world

July 28, 2015

With a bit of thought you can use your buying choices to benefit causes that matter to you, such as the environment, local businesses, ethical trading, international development or animal welfare. Here are some tips to consider when practicing socially responsible shopping.

Shopping responsibly to promote a better world

For the environment

  • Buy less. If you're constantly throwing food away, edit your grocery list.
  • Shop close to home. By using independent neighbourhood stores and services, you can save on car use while supporting your local community.
  • Choose locally sourced goods. In general these will have required less transportation, and therefore had less impact on the environment.
  • Opt for organic, but be discriminating. Organic food crops, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, confer benefits to the workforce, the consumer and the environment where they are grown. However, organic fare flown in from overseas may have a greater overall impact on the environment than non-organic foods grown locally.
  • Think before you eat. There are plenty more fish in the sea, for example, than the most endangered species. Be adventurous, try new species, look for the "approved" certification. Buy "dolphin-friendly" tuna.
  • Choose goods that are packaged in an efficient and easy-to-recycle way.
  • Take your own shopping bags with you rather than accumulating a mountain of unwanted plastic bags back at home.

For ethical trading

  • Favour Fairtrade. The label guarantees a better deal for producers in the developing world, while a proportion is invested in development projects.
  • Favour manufacturers with a good company profile (read their mission statements) over makers of shoddy, cut-price throwaway goods.
  • Use charity shops. Pass unwanted clothing and goods on to a charity outlet and buy from there yourself (you may be amazed at what you find).
  • Shop at cooperative-style stores, where a greater percentage of the profits will go to the store workers themselves.

For animal welfare

  • Choose free-range meat, poultry and eggs rather than cheaper but intensively farmed alternatives.
  • Avoid cosmetics or household goods that have been tested on animals. Look for the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny logo, a guarantee that no such testing has taken place during the product's development.
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