How to Switch to Sustainable Purchases

Interestingly, the newest generation of consumers, Gen Y and Z, are some of the greenest customers yet. Research shows that younger generations tend to take into account a product’s ecological footprint and full lifecycle before making purchases. Interest in things such as fast fashion has slowly started to die down and in its place, ethical, sustainable, and eco-friendly options are now the main interest for Gen Y and Z.

Regardless of age, plenty of people want to help make the world a better, cleaner place. Admittedly, it can be hard to know where to start. So, if you’re preparing to make the switch to more sustainable purchases, try following these simple tips that you can start making today in exchange for those less eco-friendly habits.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Getting started, a great first step in switching to a more sustainable way of life is to change the way you declutter. In general, living a more minimal lifestyle is an important element of environmental responsibility as it helps reduce the amount of waste you’ll ultimately produce in your lifetime. It can also help you save money and even improve your mental wellbeing by shifting your focus away from materialistic pressures.

Decluttering your home can give you and your used items a fresh start. However, it’s important to keep in mind best decluttering practices. To avoid filling up landfills with your stuff, it’s recommended to either sell your used items, give away to friends or family, or donate to charity. Remember the sustainable golden rule: reduce, reuse, recycle.

These practices can be applied to your purchases as well. Try visiting the thrift store, or second-hand online stores, or asking around to friends and family when shopping. While these practices may make your decluttering efforts and purchases take a bit longer, you’ll be reducing your impact on the planet.

Opt for Used Over New

Something you’ll learn when switching to a more sustainable lifestyle is that sometimes, the greenest choice isn’t always the most obvious. One of the biggest sustainable purchases you can make is a used car. When considering a new car versus a used one, overall, a used car has a lesser impact on the planet — even over brand new electric cars. While electric cars do release fewer emissions and smog than conventional vehicles, the process of making them, (plus other non-electric cars) releases exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

Buying a used car is usually not only easier on your wallet, but it helps reduce the use of fossil fuels necessary to build a brand new car. If buying used makes you nervous in regards to repairs and maintenance, there is a surfeit of advice for purchasing a used car that you can utilize. You can inspect the vehicle yourself or have a mechanic look it over before buying. If opting to do it yourself, try downloading a used car inspection checklist to bring with you during your assessment to make the process a bit easier and thorough.

Even the Small Stuff Makes a Difference

As consumers, we have a lot of choices. Imagine your usual trip to the grocery store. Every aisle is stocked with a variety of options to pick from. It’s almost overwhelming how many different kinds of cereal and potato chips there are to choose. However, as many choices as there are, a lot of the waste we produce comes from non-eco-friendly packaging.

Imagine the aisles in your grocery store again. How many products do you notice wrapped in an excessive amount of plastic? In the produce section, it’s truly surprising the number of fruits and vegetables being sold in plastic bags. Even produce that already has natural protection, such as oranges, can be found in plastic clamshell containers. This is problematic for several reasons.

At Voices of the Youth, an organization that helps young people learn more about development issues, they explain, “Plastic leads to destroying the marine life and polluting the earth. Millions of tons of plastic are in the environment as waste, especially in the oceans and seas. Some estimates point out that the volume of plastic in the ocean will be more than fish by 2050.” They go on to further point out that because of plastic pollution, it’s believed that the average person is consuming the same amount of plastic as a credit card each week through their food and water. Plastic is also harmful to our health and increases carbon emissions when incinerated so it’s difficult to completely dispose of plastic waste.

With all of that in mind, even the small stuff can make a difference when being an environmentally-conscious consumer. Try making changes wherever you can. For example, instead of buying treats for your dogs, which often come in plastic or non-decomposable containers like tin cans, try making all-natural homemade treats or sticking to simple treats like bananas. It’s not only more sustainable but can often be more nutritious for your pet than typical dog treats from the store.

You can also buy items in bulk, such as rice, beans, and meat, and then divide them into more appropriate portions. Store your goods in upcycled glass jars for easier storage and convenience. Bring cloth bags (or just skip bags all together) to the store to weigh out produce instead of using the plastic ones the store provides. Try shopping as locally as possible to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions used to haul goods across states and countries. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to switching your lifestyle to a more sustainable one.

Every day we have the opportunity to make better choices for our world and ourselves. This includes switching to sustainable purchases to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

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