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How to be a Green Consumer

Updated on February 5, 2013

Doing whats right for the planet.

We all want to do what is best for our planet, even those people who are not entirely sure that global warming is actually a real issue or that it's even happening now, will agree that the basic principles of being Eco-friendly are beneficial for everyone in many different areas; Toxins are bad for our health, waste is bad for our finances and we need nature and wildlife to produce clean air, as well as to pollinate plants and flowers.

Although it is technically possible for some very fortunate people to become completely self sufficient this is not a reality for most of us, shopping and consuming is an inevitable consequence of the modern world. However, there are plenty of really easy changes you can make to become a greener consumer and the best part of all is that you will be doing yourself, your family and the planet a favor in the process.

The suggestions I have given below are some of the easiest ways that I know of still being able to shop, but in a way that will not be as detrimental to the planet as it may have been before. I use these methods myself and I have found that they have helped me immensely, I hope that they can do the same for you.

Go for quality rather then quantity.

I would rather have one thing that I absolutely love but costs more, then ten things that are cheaper but I only like, and most people in fact feel the same. Pile it high and sell it cheap is all very well but these cheap little things tend to break, tear, wear, ruin or fade far quicker then the more expensive better quality items. Some items are worth the investment and if you can go without it for a while and save up, the purchase will be all the more rewarding.

Use the Internet.

Finding products that are good for the planet is easier then ever, a quick search engine query will enable you to find what you're looking for but without the unnecessary chemicals and harmful ingredients. You can also research what is in the usual products that you buy and discover how harmful they are to you and the environment.

Many products have labels that boast that they are 'natural' or 'pure' unfortunately this often does not count for much. Being aware and informed of exactly what you are buying will enable you to make much better choices. You don't have to stop buying cleaning aids like washing powder, washing up liquid or polishes it's just a matter of using your purchase power to buy the one that has the least harmful consequences.

Did you know?

That you can heat all of your water via solar pump power. There are even grants of up to £500 available. They are antifreeze free and are usually installed in just one day. To find out more about it or to see if you qualify for a grant visit

Can you make do and mend.

Often things can be fixed with a little tape or glue and will go on to last maybe a few more years. Furniture if kept well maintained, can last several lifetimes. Do you really need to buy new or replace an item, or can you actually make do with what you have.

Try to buy less.

Most of us over buy and acquire much more stuff then we actually need or even want, we are conditioned from a very young age to believe that shopping is good. Psychologists have been hired by many of the bigger corporations and familiar brands for their expertise on human behavior. Many psychological methods have been applied to packaging and products, so that we will be more inclined to buy it, regardless of weather we really need it or not.

Millions of pounds go into advertising too and we are exposed to a plethora of different selling messages everyday. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, it just means that we are more prone then ever to purchase things that we otherwise would not have bothered with. So to be a greener consumer, it helps if you are more aware of what you are about to buy before you hand over your money.

Shopping for environmentally friendly presents can be tricky. However one of the most Eco-friendly gifts you can give someone is a tree. For more information and a price guide you can visit a good site that I came across which is

Try to prevent buying new if you can.

Some things you will have to buy brand new, but many things you will be able to get away with second hand. Second hand clothes after 25 years are classed as vintage this is regarded as high fashion. Most of my wardrobe was bought from my local charity shop and I often get complimented on what I ware and asked where I bought it from. Many of my friends regularly shop there too and I love the great items they find.

For me it is also very rewarding to know that the money is going to charity and helping many people who are very deserving of it or who are in great need. Second hand clothes are also cheaper saving you money and when you are done with something you can bring it back to the charity shop so they can sell it again and someone else can enjoy it, everybody wins.

Shop locally if you can and walk or ride to the shop if possible.

If you can avoid using your vehicle by walking, you will be healthier and happier for it. The more journeys you take on foot the easier it will become, so not only are you saving ware on your car, you will be saving money on petrol and limiting the amount of fumes being sent out into the atmosphere.

Recycling and sustainability.

Do recycle it really does make a difference. cans made out of aluminum can be recycled indefinitely, so don't throw them away, do the right thing and make sure that they can get used again. When you are considering a purchase, check to see if it is made out of recyclable material, and if it can be recycled when you are done with it.

Try to support companies that use sustainable resources in the manufacturing of there products. See if you can find out exactly what goes into what is being made and what consequences it might have to the environment. Are they replenishing what they are using, or are they stripping the area of resources and leaving it waste land. Many ethical companies donate money to green causes, help them to help the environment by supporting what they are selling.

Consider the big purchases as well as the small.

If you are considering buying a car at any point in the near future, it's worth considering it's size. I have noticed that it seems to be quite fashionable to invest in large gas guzzling vehicles however if your needs only require a small car then you will be doing yourself a huge financial service by opting for a smaller model.

Think before you scrap. Some people don't mind buying a car that requires a bit of work in fact some really relish the thought of a mechanical challenge before you send your car to the scrap yard why don't you see if you can sell it first?

Say no to over packaging.

If you can buy the same thing with less packaging do it. If we all did this, then it would soon send out a message to the manufacturers of these goods, that we as consumers don't want everything to be wrapped in so many layers of cardboard and plastic that we could play a game of pass the parcel with it.

If we keep buying they will keep creating, however if we collectively begin to change our shopping habits then the companies will have to change their methods to continue to compete for a place in the market. Purchase power is a powerful tool if we learn to use it well. Lets turn supply and demand into demand and supply, together we can change the retail system for the better, and for the benefit of our planet.

Find like minded people.

Get together with other people who are trying to achieve the same objectives as you are. Share useful tips and informative articles and websites like this one. The greater the amount of people that can contribute to the cause the bigger the differences are that can be made.

Maybe you could set up your own website to help others be more Eco-friendly or spread the word via email. By talking to other people about your desire to be more environmentally conscious you can help make them more aware of their own shopping habits.

Bag it up.

Invest in a bag for life and try to remember to take it with you every time you go to the shop. If you do find yourself forgetting it, if you are not purchasing a lot of goods, try carrying them home without the use of a bag. It maybe a little more difficult, but the effort will be worth it. Plus it may help you to remember to bring your bag for life, next time you pop to the shop.

Bags for life are very fashionable nowadays and there are some truly great designs, you may like yours so much you will end up using it as your everyday bag. Plus most of them are much easier to wash then conventional handbags, they are cheaper to buy and you can fit loads of stuff in them.

Spread the word.

You don't have to be preachy or evangelical about it, just by mentioning how something has saved you money or how much healthier you feel as a result of going green will be enough. By being open, honest and comfortable about discussing your experiences and intentions you will be helping others to make better choices and improve their lives too.

You don't have to recruit a whole army of pro-active Eco warriors nor is it about organizing mass demonstrations, some people may rally their local MP or write persistent letters of concern to various departments and organizations, by all means feel free to do that if you feel like you want to, but you don't have to go to this kind of extent to make a difference.

Just do what you can.

Green projects and ecology clubs are great ideas if you have the time and inclination to pull them off. However time is a commodity that most of us don't have enough of, as long as you do all that you can with what resources you have available to you, you have done enough.

If you are feeling adventurous you could try organizing some environmentally friendly initiatives in the work place. Imagine how popular you could be if you saved the company a substantial amount of money just by suggesting that things get turned off when they are not being used.

To be the most effective green consumer that you can, will benefit you and the planet, there really is no reason not to at least give some of the suggestions a try. By reading this hub and other articles like it, you are already well on your way to becoming an Eco- friendly shopper and for that alone, me and the planet thanks you.

I hope this was helpful.

Will you try following any of these suggestions?

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    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you for commenting scifinut. :)

    • profile image

      scifinut 5 years ago

      One way to be really 'green', and save lots of 'green', is to learn about going old-school. Old-timers didn't buy paper plates, or plasticware, because when you were done with your utensils, you washed them. And, you went to bed when the sun went down, thus saving on electricity which prior to 1950, you probably didn't have, at least in some parts of the country. We are become 'consumers', that's our job, break out the plastic, and buy something made out of plastic.