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How to do Eco-friendly Shopping Online

Updated on February 3, 2015
Shopping mindfully can help save the planet and improve our quality of life without harming other beings.
Shopping mindfully can help save the planet and improve our quality of life without harming other beings. | Source

How Fair is Fashion? (3.31min)

The word 'eco-friendly' means 'not harmful to the environment'. The meaning can also include to mean the ethical and social environment as well. Hence, when we go shopping online we need to be aware of all aspects. There are millions of shopping sites online and it is important to be clear about the choices we make while buying eco-friendly products.

Every body has their own ideas about what is 'Ethical', 'Cruelty-free' and 'Sustainable'. Those who make conscious choices when shopping like to think they pay attention to these values or principles when buying goods with their hard earned money. Let us examine these three words before going into the online resources available to put them into practice. All three principles are interconnected.

Ethical – The dictionary meaning states: (adjective) 'of or relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these' and its first meaning is 'morally correct'. It is interesting to see what the Thesaurus has to say. If these specifications could be kept in mind while doing our shopping this world would be a different place. The following are some of the words that the word 'ethical' could mean to people and be relevant while making ethical choices:

  • moral
  • righteous
  • lawful
  • principled
  • virtuous
  • just
  • honorable
  • noble
  • worthy

Say No to Products from Factory-farming

Cruelty-Free

The dictionary meaning states: (adjective) '(of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals.'

However, cruelty-free could also mean something that has not been obtained by depriving people or animals of their right to live in dignity. There are many cruel practices, for example, such as:

  • skinning animals alive to obtain soft leather
  • factory-farming practices in the dairy and poultry industries
  • intensive-farming practices for fur and other products
  • overfishing the seas and oceans where a major portion of the catch is thrown back (dead) into the sea.
  • by-products of the slaughterhouses like gelatin.

Anything that is acquired by cruel means by ignoring the essential right of every living creature to live its own life in dignity and for its full life-span cannot be considered cruelty-free.

Eco-friendly and sustainable mortar and pestle.
Eco-friendly and sustainable mortar and pestle. | Source

Making sustainable choices will go a long way in helping reduce toxic trash that will take thousands of years to decompose. One way is to buy eco-friendly biodegradable products for daily use for the home and personal use. For example you can use plastic-free kitchen and tableware, like the mortar and pestle shown above. Or you can use stainless steel products for long-lasting storage and cookware. People in countries like India use it all the time and they are safe to use.

Sustainable

The dictionary meaning states: (adjective) Ecology - 'conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.'

In today's consumeristic culture, where buying and discarding all kinds of unnecessary things has become a norm, it is very important to consider the sustainability of our habits. Do we ever ask ourselves the real cost to the earth of the things we buy? At the rate at which the natural resources are being exploited, the planet earth, will not be able to sustain it for very long. The result is seen in global warming and climate change. It can also be seen in the large masses of plastic in the oceans such as the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. Our casual use of plastics and don't care attitude to where it is going to end up has resulted in these man-made marine debris that is hundreds of kilometers.

The importance of making mindful choices when shopping both online or in the shops cannot be emphasized enough. If you have reached this far in reading this article then you are one of those who are really concerned about the choices you make.

There is hope for such mindful shoppers. There are many websites and apps that can help shoppers and consumers make the right decisions while going about their business. The following are a few websites that might provide the opportunities to make ethical, cruelty-free and sustainable choices:

Online Resources and Apps for Making Ethical Choices

Leaping Bunny Program and Logo

This program was started in 1996 when eight animal protection groups got together to make sure that companies adhered to an international standard to be certified as cruelty-free. The Leaping Bunny Standard is a voluntary pledge that cosmetic, personal care, and/or household product companies make to clear animal testing from all stages of product development. The eight groups formed the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC).

Cruelty-Free and Animal-Free Apps

There is a iPhone and iPad app (free) as well as for Androids called Cruelty-free to look up which companies follow the Leaping Bunny Standard.

Animal-Free

This is another app which is a full-featured, pocket reference guide for many common and hidden animal ingredients. Animal-Free will help you make conscientious shopping decisions. The ingredients listed in Animal-Free can be viewed by two categories 1) those that are always animal derived 2) those that are sometimes animal derived. It also features a list of commonly misunderstood or unfamiliar vegan ingredients that will help aspiring or new vegans.

Animal Free Ingredients Online Database

An online database is also available for those who don't use iPhones, iPads or Androids.

Peta Catalog

PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters. They have a website called Peta Catalog where you can shop for all the products you would use in daily life. It is also a good website to buy green gifts.

PETA's mobile apps are both free and paid apps for iPhones and Android. These apps are a good resource for busy tech-savvy people who want to do their bit for alleviating the suffering of animals on the go.

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