The holidays are right around the corner which means so are the advertisements, the sales, and the lines. If you are looking for ways to get through this season while being as sustainable as possible look no further!
Hands down the best way to be eco conscious while shopping this season is to avoid shopping in the first place. This might be a tough change to make, we understand! Some alternatives to shopping can be creating experiences to share with those you care about, making gifts out of items you have on hand, or in the case that you need to buy something, buy second hand.
The holiday season is usually one that brings family and friends together. This comes with a whole lot of expectation. These expectations can make it hard to transition to a more eco-friendly holiday season. That is the wonderful thing about choosing to participate in creation care, there is no right way and any step toward ecofriendliness is a good one.
There are thousands of products out there that are marketed as “eco,” “earth friendly,” “green,” or “sustainable”. We hope to give you some tools to use your money to protect the environment as well as those who make and use these products.
Here is the long and short of it…
1 Buy less
2 Buy local
3 Read the label
4 Pick less packaging
5 Choose sustainable standards
Let's break it down...
Often around the holidays we see consumerism in full swing. Consumerism isn't just buying things but buying things we don't need over and over again. This habit drives manufacturing which fuels systems that degrade the environment by polluting the air and water which ultimately takes more resources than it gives back.
When we ship things from online stores or oher logistics companies we are using a much higher level of energy than if we got the same product from someone local. Shipping long distances requires more fossil fuels, water, energy, and human power which all have bad impacts on the environment. Buying locally also can help you decide if the farmer, creator, or manufacturer is making their products with eco-friendly principles and pays their workers well.
Read the label.
As eco conscious consumers, we have to do a little more work when purchasing things. Some products use words that are greenwashing terms. Greenwashing is when companies promote something as eco-friendly or green when this is not true. Greenwashing is a marketing ploy for some companies to sell more to uneducated consumers. If we take time to read the labels and research companies, we can avoid products with words like “natural,” “organic,” or “eco-friendly” if they do not have any proof or third-party verification. Simply reading can help us avoid hazardous products and choose some that are good for us and the planet.
Pick less packaging.
One easy way to make an impact while shopping is to choose products that have as little packaging as possible. Buying in bulk can help or choosing liquid products that come in concentrates to reduce water. While it may take more time, research can help us choose products that come in containers that can be recycled easier like glass or metal. Using your own bags and wrapping gifts in reusable bags or even cloth are easy ways to reduce packaging and waste this holiday.
Choose sustainable standards.
Many companies provide documentation that their products are made according to sustainable standards. For example, the organic standard for cotton makes sure that products do not use pesticides and other toxic chemicals to produce products. Check to see if a company has a standard to govern the whole life cycle of the product, from raw material to finished product. Third parties can help us with this task. Groups like Energy Star, Forest Stewardship Council, and B Corps are great things to look for.
We know this is a daunting task with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Here is a, by no means exhaustive, list of organizations that can help you make earth friendly choices.
Better World Shopper - a public research project dedicated to making social and environmental data available to consumers who wish to utilize their dollars as votes in order to help build a better world.
Earthhero.com - an organization who vets and promotes products that are good for people and the planet.
DoneGood - Thousands of products that are ethical, eco-friendly, fair trade, and give back to great causes—all in one place.
End Slavery Now - a organization that teaches the public about slavery, how to find organizations to end slavery, and promote action in our communities.
Grove Collaborative - Grove creates and curates 150+ sustainable, high-performing brands that meet our four-point standard: uncompromisingly healthy, beautifully effective, ethically produced, and cruelty-free. So you never have to choose between a clean home and a clean planet.
Pact - Organic and sustainably sourced clothing for the family.
Public Goods - a company that aims to serve with a massive range of ethically sourced personal care, household, grocery, and pet products.
Plan Toys - a sustainable company creating wooden toys that are safe for little ones while providing them with a stimulating, sensory experience.
- Makayla Johnson, Environmental Sustainability and Special Projects Manager with Nazarenes for Creation Care