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Buying new is the easiest way to shop, but it isn’t always the most sustainable. I know that when I want to buy something, I don’t want to think about where it came from or how much energy was wasted in getting it into my hands. But as a conscious consumer, you have an opportunity not only to reduce your carbon footprint but also to help others by making informed decisions about what goes into your closet and shopping bag. That’s why we’re going through five easy steps that will help you make smarter choices when buying new things—and feel good about doing so!
Understand that second hand isn’t gross
- Second hand clothing is the new first choice.
- The quality of second hand clothes is often better than that of new clothes.
- Used clothes can be more stylish than new clothes and are often cheaper, too.
Find your local Goodwill or resale store
If you have unwanted clothing, household items, or even old electronics to donate to charity—especially ones with sentimental value—Goodwill is a great choice. They are both a nonprofit organization that provides jobs for people with disabilities and also one of the largest secondhand retailers in the country. There are more than 3,100 stores across the United States and Canada, so finding one near you should be easy!
Once I’d found my local Goodwill store (which is right by my house), I went inside and asked if they would take donations of clothing or other goods. The employee didn’t seem too interested until I told him that they could make their way into the hands of someone who really needed them. He told me that all types of donations were welcome at his location because it helped people turn their lives around by getting them back on their feet after losing everything in a disaster (like Hurricane Katrina).
Put aside the idea that you must buy new
It’s time to put aside the idea that you must buy new.
This means giving up the guilt of buying used, second hand, recycled and green products. If a product is truly made to last, it should not be considered “used” or “second hand.” I’ve found this is especially true of clothes—if you look hard enough in your neighborhood thrift store or at a local boutique on Etsy (another great resource for conscious consumers), there will always be something unique and stylish available for less than half its original price tag. The same goes for furniture: if you want quality pieces that can last generations then hunt around for antiques rather than opting for cheaply made particle board pieces from Ikea or Walmart.
When you do go shopping, look for companies that produce sustainable products
When you do go shopping, look for companies that produce sustainable products.
- Look for companies that use sustainable materials in their products. This includes wood and paper products that are harvested responsibly, without deforestation or habitat destruction. If a company claims to be 100% organic and does not meet these criteria, it is probably just marketing its product as “organic” to make it more appealing to consumers who want environmentally-friendly products.
- Look for companies that are transparent about their sustainability practices and/or supply chain—and ask questions if there’s anything they don’t tell you upfront! A good example of this would be REI’s transparency policy regarding its supply chain: “REI aims to provide timely information on the progress we’ve made toward our goals.” They also have an FAQ section where they explain how they are working with growers around the world (here).
- Look for companies who give us insight into how they manufacture their goods as well as why they choose certain manufacturing processes over others (here).
- Lastly, try finding out whether your product was manufactured sustainably by looking at its label! Some labels have symbols indicating whether or not chemicals were used during production; other labels might point out their factories were located near rivers so runoff wouldn’t contaminate them (here).
Ask companies questions about their sustainability practices and boycott when necessary
You can also help combat the problem by asking companies questions about their sustainability practices and boycotting when necessary.
- First, ask about their carbon footprint. A company’s carbon footprint is a measure of how much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they produce in a given year.
- Next, ask them about their recycling programs. Many companies are now offering in-store recycling programs for consumers to dispose of packaging waste—but make sure they’re actually doing it before you buy from them!
- Next, inquire as to what processes they use during manufacture, packaging and shipping of their products and materials. These processes may have an impact on the air quality in your local community and/or contribute to climate change globally via GHGs released into our atmosphere during production processes like burning fossil fuels at factories or through transportation methods like driving trucks full of finished goods across long distances within countries or internationally over oceans for export purposes.
Donate unwanted items to organizations that can redistribute them for education or humanitarian needs
You may have noticed that many charities are struggling, and it’s not just because of the recession. People are donating less than they used to, which means organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity have a lot less money than they were able to use in years past.
If you’re thinking about giving your clothes away (or even selling them), consider donating your items instead. When you donate unused items instead of throwing them away or selling them at a garage sale or thrift store, it frees up space in your home while also helping those who could benefit from the things you no longer need.
When you donate items that may be useful to someone else—like clothing or household goods—you can feel good knowing that someone else will be able to make use of them without having to buy new ones themselves. Many charitable organizations rely on donations from people like yourself who want their money spent most effectively; if everyone donated their unwanted stuff instead of tossing it out with the trash, these groups would have more resources available for those truly in need!
You don’t have to buy new to be a conscious consumer!
You don’t have to buy new to be a conscious consumer!
Conscious consumers are those who consider the environmental and social impact of their purchases. They look at where things come from, how they’re made and what happens to them when they’re finished with.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by looking for second-hand goods or buying from companies that produce sustainable products. You can also ask companies questions about their sustainability practices when you shop for clothes and electronics, for example.
I think the most important takeaway from this article is that you don’t have to be ashamed of your choices. Whether you decide to buy new or second hand, it’s important that you do so in a way that doesn’t contribute unnecessarily to pollution or waste. After all, our earth can only take so much abuse before she retaliates! So whether it’s buying sustainable products or donating unwanted items—just remember: being conscious about what goes into your shopping bag is an easy way to start making an impact on our planet now