A trip to the grocery store, furniture outlet or appliance center, rarely elicits a philosophical examination of the future of the planet, but each of our choices for the food we eat and how we furnish our homes has an impact on our immediate environment, as well as the greater world around us. Before heading to the checkout counter, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to test whether your choices are eco-friendly.
Are you buying local? How far has the food you buy traveled to make it to your grocery store or market? The greater the distance a product has been shipped, the larger the carbon footprint. Whenever possible, buy fresh, local foods for greater nutritional value and a smaller impact on the environment.
Is a recycled product available? If you recycle your household trash, you have already made an important commitment to sustainable living, but what about buying recycled items? Buying recycled products saves energy and resources and reduces waste.
How do you bag it? The plastic bags stores use to stash your purchaces at the checkout counter, may not seem very significant, but in fact, they will likely outlive all of us by hundreds of years. After making their way to our homes, they will be discarded and eventually find their way to landfills. We don’t really know exactly how long they will last, but many experts believe it is between 500 and 1000 years. Stop the cycle by reusing your own sustainable shopping bags.
Do you speak for the trees? Remember the Lorax (a beloved Dr. Seuss character who tries to protect his friends the trees). Make sure the timber products you buy, from lawn chairs and decking to toilet paper rolls, paper and envelopes carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. If you can’t find FSC-certified products, ask your store manager to stock them. Note: We are proud to note that Well-Being is printed on paper from responsible sources and bears the FSC label.
How well do you know your seafood? Fish is an important part of a healthy diet. Make sure the fish you buy is harvested in a way that is healthy for the environment as well. Look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification mark. It’s a simple way to identify and purchase seafood from well-managed sources.
Have you cleaned up your cleaning act? If not, it’s time to think green. Biodegradable cleaning products have fewer negative impacts on the soil and water system after you have finished using them, and they are safer for your family and pets when you use them in the home.
Are you buying an energy hog? Next time you are thinking about buying a TV, washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher or stove, look for the ENERGY STAR label. It is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. Products earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements specified by the EPA. Energy and water efficient electrical appliances might be a little more expensive but they pay for themselves through lower energy and water bills.
Sustainable Shopping is Smart Shopping Making thoughtful purchases isn’t a chore once you realize all the benefits. Not only are your sustainable choices better for the environment, they can be more economical in the long run and healthier for you and your family.
The Four Rs of Responsible Consumption
REDUCE – the amount of materials you use.
REUSE – containers, building materials and clothing.
RECYCLE – instead of throwing away what you no longer use. It takes less energy to recycle than to create new products from virgin materials.
REPAIR – appliances and furniture instead of replacing them.
If you have appliances, furniture, clothing, or equipment you no longer use don’t haul them to the nearest landfill, consider donating them to a non-profit organization that can redistribute them to people in need.