An easy guide to sustainable shopping
Taking steps is necessary to move forward, even if these steps are small. There is no better time to walk than now. It is no secret that sustainability is becoming more and more of a trend for both consumers and businesses. This is a good thing, as we can then strive to live in a world where we can be more mindful of our actions and impact. In this way, we can hopefully meet our own needs without compromising for the ability for future generations to meet their needs. You can really make a difference by shopping sustainably.
What does sustainable shopping mean exactly? And why is it so important?
It means that as human beings, we recognize that everything we buy has health, environmental, and social impact. This is the first important step in terms of awareness. The second step is to look at our buying behaviour as an opportunity. A chance to support the businesses that leave a positive impact on all three aspects. It is more than just being eco-friendly. Actually, it is acting out of a place of love for our environment, community, and also yourself, as you choose to honour your own core values and beliefs. You can start as in-depth as you’d like, for example: looking at the raw materials that are used to create the products, packaging, the way of disposing items, or even transport related to the product. Though, real change starts with acknowledging your own behaviour and habits. So let’s start there.
Here are some simple tips for shopping sustainably:
1. Check what you already have
How often have you looked around in a store and unwarily grabbed some things that you already owned? “Oh well, it might come in handy in the future”, is what you think or say, as you pile up the 7th plastic grocery bag in your kitchen cabinet. This is exactly the mindset that we have to get rid of, as it makes you collect items you already own.
The first step of a consumer’s buying behaviour is need recognition. This is the realization that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Ideally, before this step comes up, you’ll want to organize and asses what you already have. Check out all things that are in your kitchen cabinets, closets and other (significant) pantries around the house. Now, you can be more aware of the things that you already own and only buy what you actually need.
Also, look for patterns in your existing buying habits. Are there any items in your cabinets of which you have several? What was the reason for buying the same item repeatedly? Was this necessary? Hopefully, you’ll start to recognise that most of the things you thought you needed, have actually become unnecessary as soon as you’re confronted with how many things you already own.
2. Don’t rush. Have patience
It can sometimes be overwhelming to live in a world where everything might be a sales channel. The rush you feel when you see a new, and interesting product can increase the need to purchase it immediately.
For many products, the purchasing behaviour could even be described as a simple routine. You notice a need, and you want to satisfy that need as soon as possible. The idea is to break this pattern by actively choosing to be a conscious consumer and fight the urge to make impulse purchases. Definitely don’t rush. Give yourself time when you want to buy a new product. It can help to have a set waiting time before buying (e.g. a day or week), after which you’ll come back and re-evaluate the need or product again. Try to actively reduce your buying behaviour by refusing unnecessary purchases. Helpful questions to ask yourself are:
Do I really need this?
Is there another, more eco-friendly option?
Is it urgent for me to have this product, or can it wait?
3. Quality over quantity
Prioritizing quality over quantity can add depth to your buying habits. Instead of buying “just because”, look at each purchase as an investment. High quality products are reliable and durable, making it more sustainable as it doesn’t end up in landfills after using it a few times.
Helpful questions you can ask yourself before buying a product are the following. What does my buying behaviour look like when it comes to the quality of products? Can I buy this product second hand? Does the product come from a sustainable company? Does the brand release updated versions of this product often? This could mean that the product is meant to be thrown away and replaced after a while. Does the item have a guarantee? If so, for how long?
For businesses, it can of course be of great value to choose quality over quantity as well. Choosing to make green(er) decisions as a business matters to both employees and investors. It can help make your business future-proof and demonstrate your alignment with modern consumers. Next to that, the demand for transparency (e.g. in product sourcing) could help your business increasing customer loyalty.
For many products, the purchasing behaviour could even be described as a simple routine
4. Explore local stores
Ever had the desire to delve into your local community more? Do it now! Nobody wants to feel like they’re a stranger in their own neighbourhood.
Exploring local stores and second-hand shops nearby will probably help you shop more sustainable as well. Some environmental and economic benefits that come with shopping local are: decreased emissions related to transport, decreased packaging needs, keeping money and jobs within the community, increasing community involvement, and keeping factories small. Next to that, it will also be a fun day out! Even better when you are walking or cycling to the local shops to cultivate even less carbon emissions!
Don’t limit second hand shopping to clothes only. Think of furniture, baby gear, electronics, cars, gifts, tools, instruments, and many more things that you can buy second hand as well. You can even get higher quality products for a cheaper price very regularly!
5. Use online shopping as a supplement & group your purchases
Although it’s good to explore your local community, it might not be realistic to completely rule out online shopping. So, when purchasing online, try to order multiple things at the same time. Since every online purchase puts a delivery vehicle on the road, see if the brand you’re shopping at is offering other products that you need as well, instead of ordering one item on multiple websites.
What you need to avoid with online shopping are the ultra-fast delivery options, as these options emit way more carbon. Unfortunately, the options for “slower” deliveries are not popular, but it never hurts to see if there is a more sustainable option! Lastly, try not to use online shopping for goods that you can buy in physical stores.
6. Ask your loved ones to support you
To be aware of your buying habits is one thing, but it can sometimes be difficult to actually change them. When you are supported by your environment, it can be much easier to form new habits. Someone that is close to you can help you evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it and how well it’s done. Getting your loved ones involved can help you become aware of your behaviour. Furthermore, it can also help you track your progress. Some steps that you can take:
- Let friends and family members in on your plans about becoming more sustainable when it comes to shopping. You could ask them to remind you to do certain things. For example, they could remind you to bring your own grocery bag when you go to the supermarket, or to hold you extra accountable when you want to buy new products. Also, this can help with creating a community of likeminded individuals. Doing things together is easier than doing things alone.
- Keep up with your journey. By writing or capturing your journey in another way, you will create the opportunity to look back and reflect on how you are doing. Perhaps, it can then be easier to notice what areas need improvement, and what you’ve already mastered.
The Regreener Shopify App provides Shopify webshops with the opportunity to implement climate action into their business model.
It all comes down to your core values. Wanting to be more sustainable with your habits comes from a place of love. Love for our planet, our communities, and ourselves. Try to remember why you’re doing it. When being mindful of these steps, ultimately, you are also working towards sustainable living.
Business & Sustainability
For businesses, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the most sustainable option. Transportation, packaging, & materials unfortunately are inevitable lots of times, and for bigger corporations this can easily lead to high amounts of carbon emissions. Yes, we are aiming for improvement. However, the inconvenient truth is that we are living in a certain way, and that we all have a carbon footprint. The relevant question then is: “how can we integrate climate action into existing systems, while we are working hard to make these systems more sustainable?”.
Research has shown that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. It is safe to say that environmentalism has emerged as a value that has stuck very fast. Policymakers care about sustainability more and more as well. In 2019, 749 municipalities in 16 different countries, representing more than 138 million people, declared climate emergencies. There is nowhere to hide. Sustainability is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.
Companies that can provide their customers with a sustainable choice actually benefit thereof. It’s no longer enough for companies to talk about their own values. Customers simply want companies to help them live theirs. Companies who can do that (preferably completely transparent) see their customer loyalty rates go up.
Regreener Shopify App
At Regreener, our mission is to fight climate change as effectively as possible by offering simple and transparent solutions to regreen the planet. We believe that the way to achieve this, is by doing it together. Therefore, we are very happy and proud to announce that our new Shopify app for webshops is now live! This app provides Shopify webshops with the opportunity to implement climate action into their business model. This can be done by planting trees per sale, or by giving customers the option in the check-out environment to plant a tree.
By joining us, you can increase your customer experience by unlocking a more sustainable option for your shoppers. Next to that, all positive impact realised by the webshop and its customers will be registered in a profile, enabling you to showcase your contributions to a greener planet.
This way, we will make our planet greener, and your brand cooler. Are you ready to make the difference? You can find the Regreener Shopify App via this link.
Want to stay informed on Regreener? Subscribe to our newsletter via this link.