Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Our landfills are filling up faster than ever, and the garbage problem, is only getting worse. Recycling the obvious cans, bottles, and cardboard are the first step. Beyond that, it’s our job to develop green shopping habits that will help us lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I’ve listed some of the eco-friendly shopping tips that have come in handy for me, as I’ve tried to rethink the way I shop, and develop more sustainable habits in my life.

Tips for eco-smart shopping:

  • Try out your local thrift stores. Second hand stores are great, and they’re full of things for you to reuse. I live in a very affluent area of California, and the thrift stores are full of clothes and books that have barely, if ever, been used. Plus they are dirt cheap! I can find the greatest button up shirts and cookbooks at thrift stores. I not only get to feel great about reducing my monthly spending, but I get to feel good about buying used products instead of adding to the landfill.
  • Give your old stuff to charity. Just as thrift stores are great for finding great stuff, they’re also a more eco-friendly way of getting rid of your stuff. Most charities for the homeless, or lower income families, are always in need of used clothes, books, or toys. This is a great way to give back to the community while reducing your net output.
  • Cut back on your purchases. With the economy the way it is, it’s the perfect time to cut down on your purchases. Reducing your “stuff”starts by reducing what you buy, and keeping it down to the essentials. How many times have we found a screaming deal on something at our favorite store, only to watch it sit in our house unused, and wasted? Supply increases with demand, so if we can keep our societal demand low, the supply will decrease as well, leading to less being shoveled into a landfill at the end of the day.
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  • Buy quality, not quantity. My mother is notorious for purchasing things over, and over, and over again. Instead of buying quality products that will last throughout the years, she buys the cheapest she can find. While I applaud her bargain shopping, if she had purchased the higher quality item for a higher price tag, she probably would have only had to buy it once, reducing her overall cost for the item, and making her shopping more sustainable. How many times do we buy the cheap thing, instead of the quality thing, and end up just repeating the same purchase over and over?
  • Buy with the end in mind. When you buy something, really think about the entire life-cycle of your purchase. Where will it end up at the end of it’s life? Is it bio-degradable? Will your use of the product, justify it’s purchase? If we can be smarter about our shopping, we can cut down on our waste and make our lives and our homes more sustainable.
  • Use a reusable bag. Most of us know to do this at grocery stores, as it has become more and more mainstream. But before you go patting yourself on the back, think of the last time you went to the mall. Did you bring your reusable bag when you walked into Nordstroms or Macy’s? Probably not. The grocery store isn’t the only place where we can put our reusable bag to use. Retail stores go through hundreds of bags every day\. But what would happen if we all took a reusable bag on our next mall trip? Think of the waste we could eliminate.

These are only a few ways to rethink your way of shopping and green up your habits, but they’ll get you started in the right direction. I’m one of those kinds of people that loves shopping. I love getting new clothes, trying new funky gadgets, and just the joy of getting things. However, as I’ve come to terms with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle way of life, I’ve realized that my way of doing things is not environmentally friendly, to say the least. All these “things” I end up accumulating just end up getting thrown away most times. I can just think of all the things I’ve thrown away in my life, that I purchased without ever using, or only using once. It’s time to rethink our purchases and green up our shopping trips, one thing at a time.

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