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Green Tips: Shopping Smart for the Holidays

Green Tips | November 25, 2020

The holiday season has begun, which means shopping for presents…and lots of it. The top 10 busiest shopping days of the year will all be within the next two months, so it’s a good time to green our shopping habits. Not sure where to start? Check out some of our tips below for shopping smart for the holidays. 

Shop Eco-Friendly

Shop eco-friendly this holiday season! If you are making purchases from stores that are near or on the way to one another, try consolidating your shopping into one trip to reduce emissions. Another way to cut down is to go shopping with a friend and carpool. Greenhouse gas emissions aren’t the only negative environmental impact of shopping: Americans use a startling 100 billion plastic bags per year. Bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping is an effective way to cut down on the waste.

Ordering Online

Buying online is a convenient and safe way to shop this year. We recommend purchasing from sustainable websites, like Earth Hero or Ecoroots that have an enormous variety of sustainable products to choose from. There are numerous other sustainable online stores out there as well. To figure out if a retailer is sustainable, check the materials they use and how they source them, look for environmentally-friendly terms such as “made from 100% recycled material” on their website, and see if their environmental practices are certified by a third party.

Express delivery has made online shopping much more convenient than it used to be. However, this easy delivery comes at significant cost to the environment. Express delivery often involves air travel, which has a greater carbon footprint than ground delivery. Additionally, express delivery often results in fewer packages loaded onto every delivery van, which in turn leads to more trips on the road and more emissions. When you return items ordered online, they have to be shipped, adding to transportation greenhouse gas emissions and cardboard waste. For this reason, try to cut down on the number of items you return. That’s not to say you should throw out an item you ordered that was defective and generate more waste in the landfill. When you do return an item, be sure to return it in the packaging it shipped to you in.

Online shopping has its costs. Each year, one billion trees worth of cardboard is used to ship online packages. There is a way to cut down on this waste, however: have your entire order ship in just one package. Some retailers like Amazon try to do this automatically, but one of the best ways to ensure fewer packages is to make fewer but larger orders. Making a list is a great way to keep track of your online-shopping needs while you wait to place a bigger order.

Second Hand Shopping and Upcycling

As we mentioned in our Green Tips a couple of weeks ago on Shopping for Winter Coats, one of the best ways to be environmentally friendly is to buy second hand. Whether through a thrift store or ebay, buying second hand helps reduce manufacturing emissions and reduces the demand to produce new goods. Don’t be afraid to get creative if you can’t find exactly what you want second-hand. For example, you can sew an old hoodie into a backpack. Alternatively, a quilt can be made out of thrifted T-shirts. Buying and crafting with second-hand items can be both fun and something the recipient will appreciate!

Give Experiences instead of a Product

While this may be hard during COVID-19, giving an experience can be much more meaningful than giving a material item, in addition to being better for the environment. For instance, if your child likes trains, take them to the Transit Museum instead of buying them a model train set. Their memories of exploring the museum with you will last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading this week’s Green Tips. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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