How to Shop Sustainably this Holiday Season

How to Shop Sustainably this Holiday Season

For many, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s could be considered shopping season as much as the holiday season. As people around the world become increasingly more environmentally and ethically conscious, especially as a result of the pandemic, they are looking at a different way of shopping, just in time for Black Friday: sustainable shopping.*

One study showed that 40% of people would go out of their way to buy an environmentally friendly gift. We’re here to tell you that you CAN do your holiday shopping, free of guilt, in a way that doesn’t harm the planet. And we’re here to help.

Shopping green

Here’s a little tip: When it comes to shopping in a sustainable way, the internet is your friend. Do research before you begin your shopping. There’s seemingly a million variations of practically every product, and you’d be surprised how often there is a company devoted to making sustainable versions of the things you’d ordinarily buy elsewhere. Many products have sustainable labels that state the items are produced ethically, so check for those labels before buying.

Eco-friendly online marketplace EarthHero sells products that are created and distributed in ways that protect the planet, including zero-waste items. You can find a host of different environmentally-friendly products -- recycled, organic, eco-friendly you name it -- at the Ultimate Green Store, including sustainable home goods. 4Ocean has a holiday gift guide that benefits their mission to fight the ocean plastic crisis; in fact, by purchasing one of their bracelets, made from recycled materials, you are financing the removal of 1 pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.

You can find eco-friendly eucalyptus sheets at Sheets & Giggles, sustainable outdoor clothing at Toad&Co, and all sorts of sustainable gifts for the kitchen. If you’re buying gifts for babies and young children, Our Green House specializes in natural, organic, and fair trade items.

Shopping sustainably is especially important when it comes to fashion. One of the world's biggest polluters, the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of wastewater. Try to find a place, such as Nisolo, that’s committed to offsetting 100% of carbon emissions. Check out this list of sustainable beauty products for ideas.

Thrifting is also a great way to shop sustainably. Buying secondhand reduces waste and is often more affordable. Many items are in great condition; you wouldn’t even know they’re secondhand. There are great online retailers like ThreadUp.com and swap.com, or better yet, swing by your local Goodwill or used clothing store.

Remember, whenever possible, bring your own reusable bags and containers to use in the bulk section at grocery stores.

Sustainable packaging

Have you ever received a gift and had to go through layers upon layers of wrapping paper and plastic to actually open it? All that packing is just so unnecessary. According to the CDC, every family in the U.S. wrapping even just three presents in reused materials would preserve enough paper to blanket 45,000 football fields.

When buying gifts this season, try to use sustainable packaging. Look for materials like bamboo, silicone, recycled plastic, glass, metal, and biodegradable paperboard. Replace that wrapping paper with newspaper. Opt for reusable packaging like a bag, basket, tin, or jar.

And buy early! That way you can stay away from expedited and fast-shipping options online, which require more trips in less efficient ways -- like that extra emission from airplanes. With global supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic, products could be more expensive or potentially unavailable altogether, meaning more boxes and more packaging. Even more reason to get your shopping over with now. Or better yet, shop in person and shop local.

More sustainable gifting ideas

Sustainable shopping isn’t just about making sure the products you buy are produced and distributed in sustainable ways. You can also think about gifts that are inherently environmentally friendly, like a reusable water bottle, hiking gear, a plant, or most anything gardening-related. Or make something yourself!

Consider giving gifts that are an experience rather than a product -- think concerts, sporting events, community outings, or a class. Something memorable is likely more lasting than something material.

On Black Friday, instead of spending the day waiting in line, spending too much money, and buying things you don't need, follow the ethos of REI’s #OptOutside campaign and enjoy the outdoors.

If you're traveling during the holidays, make up for the pollution your trip generated through any number of carbon offset projects.

And if you have to do shopping on Amazon, make sure to utilize its free Smile program so Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to a charity of your choice (it's a small percentage, but it adds up).

RESOURCES

*We are not affiliated with any of the stores listed above (though we are fans of sustainable shopping that is good for the planet!)

Posted on November 23, 2021 in ECOVOTE BLOG.

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