You have heard the adage, let your dollars do the talking for you, and it is particularly true with corporations and their environmental impact. Historic mass wasters like Wal-Mart, made huge shifts when it was clear there was a strong consumer base making purchasing decisions based on sustainability. With that in mind, there are some easy things you can start doing today to adjust where and how you shop in encouraging those companies to be more environmentally conscious.
Online shopping is at a peak these days. From large corporations fighting for market share and lowering the cost of premium shipping and working to get items to you quicker, to the pandemic creating hesitation and questions about the need to in-person shop. Regardless of the reason, online shopping can have a number of danger zones for the environment including sourcing, materials, transportation, and even the servers they use. Explore if they offer carbon offsets for their shipping footprint that are either built in to the cost of their products/services, or if they allow you to add an offset to accompany your purchase. This should generally be more than the cost of getting the item to you, and should include transportation throughout the supply chain for that item and its source materials. Read more about the cost of free returns to learn more about the pitfalls of online shopping.
Items that are Shipped
Whether the company you are patronizing is shipping items directly to you, the consumer, or to another business before it reaches you, explore what their shipping and packaging materials are. Are they still using old Styrofoam packing peanuts that never degrade? Or have they swapped to air bubbles? Even better yet, do they use fully recyclable materials? This article has a great explanation of how picking slower shipping can make a huge impact.
Dining out can often be partially for the indulgence and partially for the convenience – two things that are not generally in line with being environmentally conscious. But they can be! A few things we can consider when trying to patronize more environmentally conscious dining experiences include the waste, the materials chosen, and the opportunities for ‘better’ choices. What is the straw made of or do they even offer you one? Are their menus single use or do they offer non paper ways to review the menu, order, and pay? For their produce, do they source locally, which minimizes transport costs on the environment and encourages a healthy ecosystem, and if so, do they identify those partner farms? OpenTable has a list of its favorite eco-friendly restaurants across the country; is your local spot on the list?
Do they automatically include napkins and plasticware or is it on request only so that it does not go to individuals who will toss it directly in the trash and not use it? If they do offer them, are they compostable or made of biodegradable ingredients? Are your items automatically placed in a bag or do you need to request one? If so, is the bag plastic or paper? What type of containers are the food placed in? Most requireme industrial facilities to process, in fact, and aren’t as environmentally friendly as their label may imply. You can learn more about that here.