Buying environmentally friendly goods and services is at the heart of green living
We can make a real impact if we take some time to think about the things we buy, whether we are buying things for ourselves or for the organisation we work for. Here are just a few points that you could consider about the things that you buy.
Do I really need it?
Do you really need to buy that new mobile phone when the old one works perfectly well? Every year more than 15 million mobile phones are replaced, and all sorts of perfectly good electrical goods, furniture items, clothes and shoes end up in landfill sites. You could save yourself money and help the environment by just making do with what you already have.
Can I recycle or re-use what I already have?
Getting broken products repaired can save money, and old furniture can often be given a new lease of life by applying a lick of paint. If it really must go, consider how you could have it recycled and check the Recycling and Waste information
All that packaging? Is it necessary?
The UK produces 10 million tonnes of packaging waste, much of which ends up in landfill sites. While larger businesses are responding to packaging legislation that encourages the reduction, re-use and recycling of packaging waste, consumers still have an important role to play in thinking about how they consume packaging. While some packaging is needed for hygiene or safety reasons, we can still do a lot to cut the amount of packaging waste that ends up as waste. For instance, we could buy more loose rather than pre-packaged fruit or vegetables or we could try and buy more packaging that can be recycled. Visit the Recycling and Waste section of this website for more information.
Consider the ‘whole life cost’ and ‘life-cycle’ of what you are buying
Some products need replacing regularly while other similar products last a long time. Similarly some products are cheap to run, while other products are expensive to operate. For instance, an energy efficient light bulb might cost more than a conventional light bulb, but will need replacing much less often, and will consume far less electricity. While the energy efficient bulb may be more expensive at the counter, in the long term (over its ‘whole life’) it will save you money.
It is also worth thinking about the life cycle of goods:
- how was it manufactured?
- will it consume a lot of resources while it is being used?
- where will it end up when it eventually needs to be disposed of?
For instance, buying heavily packaged fruit and vegetables out of season may mean that more transport was used getting that food to the shelves than buying loose seasonal fruit and vegetables from the farmers markets, the produce at the farmers markets is local.