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Groceries aside, when I do shop for a particular product it’s almost always online. And while the jury’s still out on whether shopping online vs. in store is better for the environment, if you are buying things online there are certainly ways to be more conscious about your purchases!
One thing I’ve been working on for the past couple years is how to decrease the amount of trash I produce, and plastic trash in particular since it hardly gets recycled anymore. Difficult, I know, especially living in America where it seems like nearly everything you buy comes in some form of plastic.
Thankfully there have been great strides in sustainability innovation lately, and while not everything is accessible to everyone if you can afford to make a few simple swaps I highly encourage it. To start, let’s dive into five ways to improve your environmental impact when shopping with one of the biggest offenders: Amazon.
1. Bundle bundle bundle.
If you’re buying a single item from Amazon at a time, just stop. Unless it’s something you need urgently and can’t find anywhere else, see if there is an alternative or hold off as long as possible until you need something else too.
When buying multiple things from Amazon, they often give you the offer of bundling your purchases to ship at the same time. This is always the best option to cut down on environmental costs, although it does NOT always guarantee that items will come in the same box (or other environmentally friendly packaging).
Amazon is still working on that, so while we’re on the subject…
2. Take your time.
It’s true that the convenience of 2-day shipping with Prime is hard to beat. Sometimes you just need that replacement charger tomorrow, you know? But whenever you can, order things you know you will need in advance and choose no-rush shipping. This allows Amazon to maximize their efficiency with shipping and *potentially* save on emissions.
3. Shop smart.
What exactly are you buying and can it be replaced by something you already have or from a thrift store? Maybe borrowed from a friend or neighbor? Can you live without it?
If the answer is still no, think about how whatever your buying impacted the environment being made, will impact it as it’s being used and after. For instance, be like Steve Jobs–RUTHLESS about the quality of materials used to make your product! Are they non-toxic? Do they create microfibers that wash into the oceans? Take the time to do your research and find out.
4. Invest in the environment.
There are so many products on the market to day that help you reduce your impact on the environment! Some have been around for what seems like ages (hello, LED lightbulbs) but others are relatively new (or at least newly mainstream).
Like I said, this is an investment so choose wisely when you have the chance. Here are some of my personal favorites hard to find at traditional stores:
- Beeswax Wrap: As a replacement for plastic wrap, this stuff is the best. Wrap whatever you usually would with plastic—half-used fruits and veggies, bowls, etc.—instead with this stuff and wash and dry after using. Generally lasts around a year.
- A Compost Bin: Did you know that nearly 1/3 of all food produced is wasted? As horrifying as it is to think about the wasted natural resources and carbon emissions along the way (not to mention methane as it decomposes), there is a better way!Composting your own organic materials makes a significant difference. While not everywhere has city-wide services to manage it, there are easy ways to compost yourself at home too. Oh, and here are the bags for it.
- Anything Bamboo: Bamboo is a great renewable resource for so many things! I love these toothbrushes and travel case made out of the material because they’re compostable (unlike plastic) as well as these socks, hangers, pillows… the list goes on! Aim for responsibly sourced if you can.
- Reef-safe Sunscreen: Did you know many of the chemicals in traditional sunscreen are harmful to reefs and sea life worldwide? So much so that Hawaii banned it
- Reusable Make-up Pads: I use these for toner after cleansing but you could certain use them for removing make-up too! Just wash and reuse, instead of throwing away loads of cotton.
- Other ideas include reusable glass or stainless steel food and water containers (although these are generally easier to find commercially), reusable produce bags, menstrual cups etc.
5. Smile or bust.
Lastly, I always purchase through Amazon Smile. It’s unavailable through the app and hard to navigate on mobile, but 100% worth taking the time to make your purchase on a computer because a percentage of nearly every purchase goes towards the charity of your choosing. If you already have a cause close to your heart, choose that! If not, there are many organizations doing good for the planet to choose from.
Looking for other ways to lower your environmental impact? Here are 10 Cheap Ways to Greenify your Home Today and 5 Reasons to Clean up your Make-Up Bag Stat.
Products in this story:
*Note: I own all of these, this post is not sponsored by Amazon