6 ways to shop more sustainably
Let PriceSpy guide you to more eco-friendly shopping
Åsa Sondén Cook
There’s no doubt that carbon emissions from consumption are having an impact on the environment. And while this can sometimes be daunting to think about, there are many things that you, as a consumer, can do to reduce your carbon footprint and minimise waste. Below, we will point you to some eco-friendly shopping tips and how you can make informed decisions about what you buy, and choose products with less of an impact on the environment.
Make a list
Start by deciding whether you really need this new item. In all fairness, recycling is important, but what really makes an impact is to consume less.
There are loads of alternative ways these days, such as renting, buying second-hand items or simply exchange some hand-me-downs. Perhaps you decide that there are things that you can’t do without this season, and a good way to start is by creating a list of essentials. On PriceSpy you can easily do this by logging in to your account, and use the left-hand sidebar for more options.
Do your research
Electronics these days are not all made to last; some even have built-in obsolesce, which means they are only designed to last for a limited number of years. The effect is that the consumers desire and buy new products more often, and the manufacturers prop up their sales. Smartphones, for example, have a very short life expectancy and need replacing every couple of years as software updates change and battery life fades. Always check the longevity of a product, whether parts can be replaced or if the gadget is designed to be thrown away, and read user reviews.
Look for certifications/ ecolabels
What you can do as a consumer is to look out for certifications if you want your gadget to last.
- The EU-Ecolabel- is a certification awarded to products and services that meet high environmental standards from the beginning of their life-cycle until the end. It encourages manufacturers to produce products that are durable, easy to repair and recycle.
There are also several institutions in the UK that address standards in the clothing industry, all dealing with various environmental aspects or encourage better working conditions for people in their communities:
- The Ethical Trading Initiative- an organisation that works globally to improve working conditions for people who make or grow consumer goods.
- The Fair Trade Foundation- offers farmers and workers in developing countries better prices and trade terms, decent working conditions and local sustainability.
- The Soil Association – The leading organic certifier for farmers, growers, textile producers, food manufacturers, health and beauty manufacturers and importers, amongst others, in the UK and internationally.
- The Global Organic Textile Standard - an international label for clothing and textiles that covers both social and environmental requirements, from cultivation to manufacturing.
- The Oeko-Tex Standard 100- a global certification for textiles tested for harmful substances, from start to finish, in the manufacturing process.
Check what materials are being used
Slow fashion (consume less and buy more durable items) is the new fast fashion. So if you’re after clothes this season, think long-term and choose clothes with a long-life span.
Check what the clothes are made of and look for eco-friendly fabrics.
The eco-friendliest fabrics are made from renewable fibres that are easy to produce and use less energy and water in the process. These fabrics should also be recyclable. Some examples of sustainable fabrics are linen, lyocell, alpaca, silk, hemp, organic cotton and bamboo linen.
Try to avoid petroleum-based synthetics (plastic) such as polyester and nylon, as the oil manufacturing industry is one of the world’s largest pollutants. These plastics are not biodegradable and take forever to break down once thrown away. Each time these fabrics are washed, thousands of microfibers end up polluting oceans and rivers.
Another thing to take into consideration is the wastewater from textile dye that when released into drains and rivers cause serious damage to plant and animal life. Textile dye is also highly toxic to the workers and people exposed to it.
You can find a selection of fabrics by using our filter function on PriceSpy. Some companies that work with a very high sustainable standard are the work clothes manufacturer Fristads, the trainer company Veja (who make their trainers from recycled plastic), high-end shop Filippa K (who use recycled fabrics and reduced chemical usage in the dyeing process) and outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia.
Last, but not least, don’t forget your guppy bag, a wash bag that traps microfibers before they reach the oceans.
Choose a company that makes a difference
When it comes to make-up and skincare products, there are also companies that are trying to make a difference, either by using plant-based organic ingredients, actively working on finding the best packaging solution, or support a good cause by working with charities. Dr Hauschka, Weleda, Neil’s Yard, Axiology and REN are only some examples. Look out for certifications such as Ecocert, and Peta and avoid, if possible, any variety of palm oil, as well as microplastics used in products.
Group your purchases and choose eco-friendly shipping options
Shipping and packaging are among the largest causes of emissions and waste when it comes to online shopping.
If you’re buying items online, try placing a single-order in one shop, and group your purchases into as few orders as possible. This way you’ll reduce packaging. You can also reduce the last bit of delivery by establishing convenient pickup points.
Some companies now offer eco-friendly delivery, such as multi-drop services and recycled packaging. If you want to go a step beyond, do some research into the delivery methods of your favourite brands and email them about their packaging routines. And try to avoid returns as this adds to yet another courier trip made to the warehouse.
And if not?
Curb the urge to impulse shop and check PriceSpy’s price history- maybe you should just wait? Perhaps you’re better off renting that evening dress that you’ll just use once, or the garden tool that will end up collecting dust in the garage. Perhaps you can even repair or replace parts on the laptop you currently have?
This article is written by Prisjakt’s editorial staff. No one else has influenced the content of it. There are no paid links or other types of advertising collaborations. Åsa Sondén Cook can be reached at [email protected]