One of the most “eco-friendly” choices we can make is to reduce the amount of resources that we consume, and to be intentional (e.g. where does it come from? who made it? how was it made? etc) about the resources that we do consume. It follows then that the less we buy things new, the less energy is being consumed. However, when indeed something needs to be purchased keep in mind the questions above and evaluate what fits best with your budget and life philosophy.
Some people seem to want a check-list so they can go to the store and only buy certain items with certain labels on them and not have to think about it. But, quite frankly, its more complicated than that and there are alot of factors to consider, and its in part what your priorities are (e.g. would you rather support a local farmer or buy organic apples from new zealand?;if you had all the money in the world, would you rather buy a new hybrid and support the industry or a used small car which doesn’t get as good mileage but has a lower total embodied energy?)
And then there are the simple things that everyone can do that simply consume less energy: walk, bike or take public transit to shop; use your own bags; buy in bulk to reduce packaging and number of trips to the store (and often to save money); shop at second hand stores, garage sales or swap items with friends;buy items that will last a long time; grow some of your own food, make some of your own clothes. I am sure others will be able to add in more suggestions as well.
Understand that every dollar you spend is a vote you make, so understand what products you are buying and the practices that support those products. Look for fair trade brands if possible. Also, reduce the amounts you buy (in the case of grocery shopping) at one time, so you have the opportunity to fully maximize the potential of the items you bring home. A lot of times, people can’t get through their food supply faster than it expires.
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