12 Easy Steps To Make Your Purchases More Environmentally Friendly
1. Reduce your food waste
We’ve written a step-by-step guide to get you started.
2. Eat less meat and choose better quality when you do
We’ve written a guide to reducing your meat consumption as cutting back on the amount of meat we eat is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprints.
Modern industrial farming techniques mean that the production of meat pollutes waterways and soils, as well as creating catastrophic greenhouse gas emissions. That’s all without touching on animal welfare.
When you do buy meat, try to purchase local, pasture fed meat with a traceable origin and eat every single part of the meat you purchase. Using leftovers and boiling bones for broths and stock.
3. Shop local & organic whenever possible
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to shop at a local farm shop or market, then take advantage of it. The food will have less of a footprint as it won’t have travelled across the world. It is less likely to be covered in pesticides and won’t be wrapped in plastic and unnecessary packaging.
For those of us living in cities and on a tighter budget, look at smaller grocers and markets rather than supermarkets who tend to attach a hefty price tag to anything organic. There’s also some great veg box schemes online, allowing you to order sustainable, and sometimes ‘wonky’ plants from local producers.
4. Eat seasonally
We’ve created a seasonal food chart for you here.
Food bought out of season is either shipped across the world, meaning more fossil fuels are burned, to ship you those strawberries in mid-December, or it’s been grown in a greenhouse. There’s also research that suggests our bodies are designed to eat the foods of the season as they create the conditions needed in our organs for each of the months, so they are better for our health too.
5. Buy in bulk where possible
Dried goods like pasta, lentils and rice have a long shelf life and can be bought much cheaper in large amounts.
If you have a refill shop close to you, even better as you’ll be cutting down on packaging as you take your own boxes and bags to fill. It’s a completely different way of shopping and can feel a little intimidating at first but you’ll soon get used to it.
6. Take your own bags
Thankfully people seem to be doing this more and more, and not a moment too soon. From 2017 to 2021, the annual number of single-use plastic carrier bags issued by Tesco dropped from 637 million to just 12 million.
Overall, the UK is still using 564 million plastic bags every year, which takes approximately 6 million barrels of oil to manufacture. They take 1,000 years to degrade, and when they finally do, it is to microplastics which can be even more devastating to the environment!
Make sure you always keep them in your bag/car so you’re never caught out.
If you are completely without bags, some stores will have boxes you can reuse, or you can just put the items back in your cart and unload directly into your car.
7. Avoid single-use plastics wherever possible
Avoid plastic produce bags in supermarkets and purchase individual fruit and veggies. A lot of the larger chains now have canvas produce bags, or you can just put them straight in your bag and give them a rinse at home.
Make sure you check the packaging: is it recycled? Is it recyclable? Paper and cardboard are regarded as being the most environmentally sound option.
8. Order less online
It’s so easily done, especially in this post-pandemic world when we have become very used to the convenience of our next day deliveries.
The environmental impact of the packaging alone is staggering. Add to that the impact of shipping, which in 2020 accounted for 37% of total GHG emissions and you’ve got a product that is costing the planet dearly.
If you must buy online, opt for the standard shipping, the next day delivery options result in couriers driving with a fraction of their capacity, generating more traffic and emissions.
9. Choose sustainable products
There are some helpful accreditations out there. Consider buying Fair Trade items, timber that carries the Forest Stewardship Council label (FSC) and fish that has the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certificate.
10. Buy recycled, upcycled & second hand
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Charity shops, car boots and preloved marketplaces are not only great places for a gem of a bargain but the most sustainable way of shopping as it diverts items away from landfill.
11. Choose biodegradable cleaning products
Natural, plant-based cleaning products are better for the environment, soil, water and ultimately better for our health too. Pioneering companies also offer refillable products, reducing plastic waste as well as producing eco-friendly cleaning.
12. Buy energy efficient goods
When buying a new gadget or appliance, choose one with the best energy rating possible. They will use less energy and save money.