Finally, everyone, well, most people, are paying attention to the state of our planet, and making lifestyle changes for the betterment of the environment. Whether that means something as simple as using reusable grocery bags, or going all out with a solar roof on your home. While some greener lifestyle choices are obvious, however others may be overlooked; for example, your shopping style. While shopping secondhand and thrifting are great ways to lessen your carbon footprint, here are a few shopping habits to get into if you want to be more environmental.
Here are 5 shopping habits to break if you’re looking to be as environmental as possible.
The Perpetual Online Shopping Returner
For many people, life is too busy to make repeated trips to the mall – everyone gets it. And online shopping is definitely an appreciated convenience of modern time. This is especially true in our era of free shipping and returns. The result is a growing group of repeat returners; those who would prefer to decide whether they like an item or an outfit from the comfort of their own homes because it’s so simple to send unwanted items back. They may even order the same items in varying sizes and colours.
While shipping may be free for the shopper, it’s not a very environmental shopping habit, thanks to the emissions from trucks carrying discarded items. Some companies, however, have started to crack down on rampant returns; a growing number of online retailers have hired third party companies to detect the repeat offenders and potentially ban them from using the site.
The Clothing Litterer
Especially in small living spaces, an annual or semi-annual closet cleanout is pretty much mandatory. Naturally, the byproduct of this is at least a couple bags full of perfectly intact clothing that no longer serves a purpose in your closet. The most environmental thing to do with these is either to take them to your local consignment shop or thrift store – especially if you’re looking to make a few extra dollars – or to drop them in a clothing donation box.
Sadly, the reality is that perfectly good garments end up in landfills, where they can take years to break down, thanks to former users lazily tossing them in the trash instead of offering them the chance to live on in other closets.
The Long-Distance Online Shopper
The further away your item comes from, the greater distance it has to travel to reach your doorstep, releasing all kinds of harmful emissions in the process; something to keep in mind during your next online shopping binge. Not only does shopping local help the diverse small businesses in your community grow, it is better for the environment – especially if your latest find is so “local” that you walked to and from the store.
When it comes to international online shopping, however, Canadians are the most active in the world. According to a recent UPS survey, 83 per cent of Canadian respondents had purchased an item from an international retailer, most prevalently, in the U.S. or China.
The Fast-Fashion-Only Shopper
While many of the big fast fashion players have made major strides when it comes to environmental awareness at of late – something that’s reflected in everything from innovative new sustainable collections, to garment recycling programs – the reality is that fast fashion is still an issue. While it’s hard to resist the odd cheap and cheerful trend-of-the-moment, making a habit out of filling your closet with them may be sustainable for your wallet, but not the planet, especially when they are no longer in style a short while later.
While it seems nobody has enough cash these days to splurge on theoretically long-lasting designer items, there are more affordable alternatives to the usual fast fashion suspects, like shopping warehouse sales and sample sales, hitting consignment stores and the increasingly common option of renting clothing and accessories.
The Mall Regular
We all know the type: shopping is a passion and the more often they do it, the happier they are. I used to have a friend who would drive to the mall at least a few times a week. While I understand the appeal, if you’re driving to and from the mall so frequently – as opposed to doing a larger shop say, once every few months – you’re not doing the environment any favours. You’d feel better about your shopping habit if you walked or took public transit – even with a handful of shopping bags.
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