The average Columbia resident purchases a significant amount of consumer goods – from food to office supplies to garden plants that have a significant impact on the environment due to upstream and downstream “life-cycle” impacts. You can conserve resources, save energy, and prevent waste by buying products that:
- Are energy efficient – look for the ENERGY STAR label
- Are used or reusable
- Are made with recycled content or are recyclable
- Have no packaging or reduced packaging
- Have low or no toxic chemical content
- Support native plant and animal communities
“Green purchasing” means buying smart. Shop with the environment in mind—that is, buy products that help conserve natural resources, save energy and prevent waste. Green purchasing can also mean not buying things you don’t need. By educating yourself about the products you buy, you can make a difference in protecting the environment.
Green purchasing involves learning about all the ways that a product can affect the environment during the course of its life cycle—from the materials used to manufacture it, to how you use it, to what you do with it when you’re finished with it—so that you can make smart choices.
What Columbia Residents Can Do
Buy smart. Take some time to think before you buy something—maybe you don’t really need it. Maybe you can think of an alternative to buying a product, such as renting a DVD instead of buying it or sending a free e-card instead of a paper birthday card. Shopping with the environment in mind will conserve resources, prevent waste, and save money.
Buy durable products. Instead of buying disposable products, which are wasteful, buy things that will last a long time, such as rechargeable batteries and reusable plastic mugs for drinks.
Avoid excess packaging. Look for products that have less packaging, or buy in bulk—you’ll have less to throw away. You can also buy items with packaging that can be reused or recycled.
Buy used. Buying things that have been used before means that your purchase doesn’t use more resources or energy. If the item is still reusable when you’re through with it, then the next person to use it is not using additional resources either. You can find authentic retro clothes, room accessories, and even sports equipment at your local thrift store. Shop online or at local stores to buy used CDs and books.
Share with friends. Another way to save resources and energy is to swap with friends and family instead of buying brand-new products. Maybe you and your friends like the same video games. Why not share your games instead of each of you owning the same game? Or maybe you can rent the game first to see if you really want to own it.
Buy energy-efficient items. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo when buying electronics such as TVs, CD players, DVD players, and computers. ENERGY STAR is a program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products.