29 Ways to Save the Planet: While Shopping

Making smart choices as a consumer is a powerful weapon against pollution and environmental damage.

Buy products made from post-consumer recycled content

When purchasing paper products, choose products with the highest percentage of recycled content —post-consumer recycled content is the best. Choose tree-free paper alternatives if possible.

Tree-free paper is made from agricultural products like waste straw, kenaf, and hemp, so not a single tree is cut down for its production!

Also check out:

Shop with re-usable shopping bags

Bring canvas or net bags with you to the store. When they ask "paper or plastic", tell them "none, thanks, I have my own!".

Buy pump instead of aerosol sprays

Chlorofluorocarbons used in aerosol sprays contribute to ozone depletion. When there is a pump spray available, buy that one. If there isn't a pump spray available, write to the manufacturer and ask them to make one.

Nothing is truly disposable!

Think twice about buying "disposable" products. (They really aren't disposable and are extravagant wastes of the world's resources.) This includes disposable dust clothes, diapers, etc.

Go Hybrid! Money Saver!

Consider buying a hybrid car the next time you're looking to buy a vehicle. Hybrids have made real strides in the past few years, and while they may be a little pricey up-front, they can save you big bucks in gas.

Plus, you may even qualify for a tax credit of up to $2000! For information about hybrid cars, check out the Hybrid Car Guide. Also check out the Ecomall pages on transportation and electric vehicles.

Buy locally grown food and locally made products when possible

Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses and are hand-crafted for best flavor.

Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities and typically the farmer has direct relationship with processors, overseeing quality - unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities.

And local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors. Livestock diversity is also higher where there are many small farms rather than few large farms.

Buy “recycled” clothing Money Saver!

Retro is in - and thrift shops offer a wide variety of cool clothing for a fraction of the cost of retail stores.

The clothing is almost always in brand-new or like-new condition, and you'll be the envy of your friends with your funky new threads. For the less-adventurous fashionistas, thrift stores usually have a wide variety of contemporary fashions as well.

You'll save a ton of cash, and many thrift stores (such as Good Will) provide jobs and training for the developmentally disabled - or the profits help to raise money for other worthy charities.

Also check out:

Buy food in bulk & repack in reusable containers Money Saver!

Less packaging is used when you buy in bulk - and it's usually a lot cheaper too! Once you get the food home, you can repack it in individual, reusable containers, like Tupperware.

Join the Road Hog Reduction Campaign Money Saver!

Personal vehicles presently account for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Visit the EPA website for important information about SUVs and light trucks.

Use rechargeable batteries Money Saver!

Disposable batteries are expensive and wasteful. Although rechargable battery sets can be slightly more expensive up-front, you'll save a lot of money in the long-term. You can save up to $1200 a year!

If purchasing a vehicle with a gas engine... Money Saver!

A smaller engine will result in greater fuel efficiency and less air pollution. Try to avoid add-ons that add weight and/or drag, and avoid using 4-wheel drive unless absolutely necessary. 4-wheel drive reduces fuel efficiency.

Minimize non-biodegradable packaging Money Saver!

Avoid buying food or household products in plastic or styrofoam containers whenever possible. (They cannot be recycled and do not break down in the environment.)

Get trendy with home décor

Natural fibers and flooring are in fashion! Look for interior design items made from recycled and natural materials.

Pick up trash

If you see trash on the street or neighborhood, pick it up! Even if it's not your garbage, its still your planet!

Use a water filter and refillable water bottle Money Saver!

Americans spend millions of dollars a year on bottled water, which adds to the amount of plastic containers thrown away every day. By purchasing a refillable water bottle and using fiiltered water, you can greatly reduce waste and save yourself a bundle!

Purchase eco-friendly (and animal safe) personal hygiene products

Look for products that do not use animal products and are not tested on animals.

Avoid products made from endangered trees Money Saver!

For a list of trees on the endangered list, visit the Restricted and Endangered Wood Species page.

Buy efficient fluorescent light bulbs Money Saver!

New compact fluorescent bulbs use 75% less energy than a standard incandescent - and last about 10 times as long! You'll save an estimated 500 lbs of CO2 and $30 a year!

Be green when you clean

Purchase only eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and avoid/limit disposable cleaning products.

Check the numbers on the bottom of plastic products

On the bottom of every plastic product, (including body lotion bottles, soda and water bottles, contact lenses, etc.), there is a number printed that corresponds to the kind of plastic used. If there is no number, the item isn't recyclable.

Look for the small triangle (or recycling logo) with the number inside.

These numbers are used by recycling centers to tell you what kinds of items they can accept. Avoid buying items without a number on the bottom, and write to the manufacturers explaining that you will not buy their product until they use recyclable containers.

Buy eco-friendly gifts

When it comes time to buy birthday or holiday gifts for others, choose environmentally friendly gifts, shop from companies that make environmental protection a part of their mission, or buy from companies that give a portion of the proceeds to charities.

Buy fish that are caught in an environmentally responsible manner

If you choose to eat fish, you can help keep the marine ecosystem healthy, without compromising freshness and taste by making smart buying choices.

Take the Tailpipe Tally

Find out how your current vehicle compares for fuel efficiency and pollution, or use it to make good buying decisions for your next vehicle at fueleconomy.gov.

Buy refillables Money Saver!

When shopping for cleaning products, etc., always buy refills when available to reduce the amount of packaging. (Refills are usually cheaper, too!)

Buy energy efficient dryers Money Saver!

At this time, there are no dryers that carry the Energy Star label, so look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts the machine off when clothes are dry.

Choose an Energy Star rated clothes washer Money Saver!

Energy Star washers not only use less water per load (18 to 25 gallons on average; front-loading models use as little as five gallons) but also extract more water from clothes, reducing drying time.

Smarter air-conditioning Money Saver!

Use fans instead of air-conditioners if possible. (Fans with intake and exhaust fans work best, pulling cool air in and blowing hot air out.) If you must use an air conditioner, be sure to buy an Energy Star rated model, and select the correct size.

"Many people buy an air conditioner that is too large for the space, thinking it will cool better. An oversized air conditioner will actually be less effective than one that is the correct size, and waste energy at the same time. Air conditioners remove heat and humidity from the air. Humidity is removed when the air in a room passes over the cooling coils of an air conditioner. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but only remove a portion of the humidity. This leaves the room with a damp, clammy feeling to the air, since the air will not have been circulated enough. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools. Running a smaller unit for a longer time will use less energy to completely condition a room than running a larger unit for a shorter time. "

(From Ecomall.Com)

Avoid disposable straws if you can

While disposable straws can be massively useful to folks with certain disabilities, if you don't need them, skip the the straws. Or if you prefer to use them but still want to spare the extra trash, consider bringing your own bamboo or metal straws.

Steer-clear of flushable wipes

They can cause severe issues in septic systems, and as they fragment, they will release microscopic fragments of plastic. These join an estimated 86 tonnes of microplastics released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone.

The Marine Conservation Society has seen a 400% increase in wet wipes found along the British coast over the past decade. Source: The Guardian

There are "eco" wet wipes which claim to be compostable however it's best to use these sparingly, as you don't want to overload a normal compost bin.

In the end, "flushable" bathroom wipes are usually anything but (puns intended).