Shopping for Mother Nature

On Earth Day, and some of us will be planting trees or cleaning parks. Some of us might just be out enjoying the beauty of nature. It’s a day of good intentions.  But it’s just a day.

The truth is, we can help the planet all year long, year after year, just by tweaking the ways that we shop.  And I’m not talking about big sacrifices or time-consuming rituals because for most of us those don’t last.

No, today I’m sharing my six favorite

Painless Ways to Help Mother Nature

Dislcosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

1.  Shop to Save Money

I love that helping the planet often helps my budget. Take for instance conserving water and electricity:  Great for the planet, but it also saves me money.  Buying in bulk often means less packaging to dispose of, and it saves money.

So does buying used items – or even getting things for free.  I save money – and I reduce my carbon footprint – by not purchasing a new item that took who-knows-how-much energy to produce and transport.

I never know what I will find at the thrift store, but I’ve learned to look there first – even if my budget supports buying an item new.

For example, I will never buy a new vase or glass container again. There are so many to choose from at the thrift stores.  Why help create a demand to produce even more of this stuff?

It’s a fun way to find unusual items.  My husband loves the shopgoodwill.com auctions and recently found us this coffee maker.  I’ve never seen another one like it.

Babies and toddlers need so many things – strollers, bouncy chairs, toys – the list goes on.  Because of this, my sweet little niece, just over a year old, could potentially have a huge carbon footprint!

No! I don’t want to hurt my planet!

But luckily my sister-in-law, Maura, has found ways to make her baby more Earth-friendly.

She often finds things for my niece for free on her buy nothing group.  She also gets items though Facebook buy/sell groups. She joins groups with a certain interest (in her case, baby items) and in areas close to her home.

Maura always makes sure that any item she picks up complies with current safety regulations – and she cleans it thoroughly before baby uses it.

Babies outgrow things before they wear them out, and I can never tell which of my niece’s things are new or which might be secondhand – because all of her things always look so fresh and clean.

Maura can also sell or give away baby items through these Facebook groups. Baby items can be hard to part with emotionally, so she likes that she can actually meet the person who will be taking her items and that the person will really use and appreciate them.  And, in the process, Maura is helping another family become environmentally friendly.
Of course, as with any online group or service, it’s important to exercise caution when meeting strangers on Buy Nothing or Facebook groups.

2. Use and Buy Less Plastic

Plastic takes energy to manufacture and more energy to recycle.  Worse, so many plastic items never make it to a recycle center.  An alarming amount of plastic winds up in our oceans.  Check out this shocking photo by National Geographic.

Here are some easy way that I buy and use less plastic:

  • Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.  This is an easy habit for me since my city has banned stores from using plastic grocery bags.
  • Buying compostable trash can liners and sandwich bags.  They are just as easy to use as their plastic counterparts.  I use Bio Bags, which are available in various sizes.
  • Getting a good-quality reusable water bottle and refilling it (from either a large water container or good tap water) instead of buying dozens of those little 12- or 16-ounce plastic bottles of water.  Every city has different water quality, but in my city the tap water is excellent.  So it always surprises me when I see someone buying bottled water at the grocery store.  What a waste!
  • Seeking out cotton clothing and textiles.  I just learned this one: Microfiber fabrics are made of microplastics.  And when these fabrics go through the washing machine, tiny microplastic fibers are washed into our water systems and eventually wind up in our food chain.

3.  Shop AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com

The same products that are offered on Amazon. com are available at AmazonSmile.  The difference is that when you make an eligible purchase on AmazonSmile, 0.5% of that purchase goes to the charity of your choice.

That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up if you purchase from Amazon regularly.  And once you select your charity and remember to go to AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com, it’s a completely painless way to help the planet.

4.  Buy Bar Soap Instead of Liquid Soap

Liquid soap seems more convenient to use than bar soap, but it’s also more expensive and takes more energy to manufacture.  And when we use liquid soap, we tend to use more of it than we would bar soap – a small but steady drain on the environment and our pocketbooks. And when the liquid soap bottle is empty, recycling it uses far more energy than recycling the bar soap wrapper.

But when buying bar soap, or any soap, watch out for number 5 below.

5.  Avoid Palm Oil

The production of palm oil has had a devastating impact on rainforests, animal species, and indigenous people. It is mostly grown and produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is in everything from margarine to cosmetics.  But the good news is that for every item containing palm oil, there is a similar product that doesn’t contain it.  I just read the ingredients and avoid anything that has palm oil.

Of course it’s not always that easy because palm oil can be listed under many different names, including simply “vegetable oil.”  But as a simple rule of thumb, I walk away from anything that lists “palm oil” as an ingredient.  And, when in doubt, it never hurts to Google a product.

For more information on the impacts of palm oil, check out this National Geographic Channel documentary with Harrison Ford.

I try to buy items that contain easy-to-recognize ingredients.  And to help with this, I shop at the farmers market.

6.  Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Instead of heading to the boring grocery store, I prefer a fun weekend excursion with my husband to our local farmers market.

I love seeing people with their kids and dogs and maybe running across friends or neighbors.  We can listen to street musicians and sample unique cuisine.

We often find locally grown organic vegetables, pesticide-free flowers, humanely raised meat, and free-range eggs.

At the farmers market, everyone is a winner.  We have fun, buy wholesome groceries, support our local farmers, and help the environment by buying local and organic.

And farmers markets are often great places to find unique and locally made arts and crafts.

Let’s Share

Of course there are so many ways, big and small, to help the planet. What are your favorite ways?  Leave a comment if you have something innovative to share.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 


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