JPIC News! A Guide to Green Shopping shared from

We have been contacted by Chloe Pedersen, a youth services librarian and educator.  The group has been using the information on our JPIC area of our website to study how to be kinder to our earth.  In return, one of the members of the group, a young woman named Amelia, came across this article on shopping green.  She and her father are ‘paying it forward’ and sharing the article with us.  The original article can be found at  There are some good tips on shopping green so invest the 5 minutes to read the article and learn something new!  Thanks Chloe, Amelia and Dad!!

What does shopping have to do with the environment? A lot, actually! When people shop, the choices that they make have a profound effect on the world around them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the energy used to produce, transport, process, and even dispose of the things that people purchase makes up approximately 42 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Much of what people buy also ends up as trash. EPA statistics show that as much as 10 million tons of clothing end up in landfills annually. To help protect the environment, people have to make intelligent and thoughtful decisions about what they buy and how they go about shopping.

Buying Green

When a person buys green, they are thinking about how their purchases will affect the environment. This means making the choice to buy things that won’t lead to additional waste and are energy efficient. People should also consider things like materials and the amount of energy that goes into the actual manufacturing of things that they intend to buy. Green choices can be made about almost anything that one buys, even cars.

There are some companies or manufacturers that will make claims about what makes them eco-friendly. These claims must be truthful under the law. It’s important, however, that people understand exactly what these claims mean. A product, for example, may have a “Made with Recycled Content” label on its packaging. One shouldn’t assume that this is referring to the product itself, as it could mean that either the packaging is made of recycled materials or both the packaging and the product are. The key when reading any claim is to read the label carefully for clarification.

Sustainable Shopping

Sustainable shopping is shopping for goods that are made and distributed in a way that will not harm the environment or deplete natural resources. By buying sustainably, people are meeting their needs while ensuring future generations will be able to meet theirs.

When shopping, consider buying second-hand goods before purchasing something that’s new. Previously owned items can be almost anything, from clothing to gaming consoles and more. They can be found at thrift stores, garage sales, and online resale sites. By buying things that are second-hand, people can help save resources, prevent waste, and reduce carbon emissions. If buying new, try shopping at stores that sell things that have slight imperfections or defects, like fruit that’s irregular in shape.

Choosing things that are organic or made using sustainable materials is also important. When buying clothes, for example, look for items that are made from renewable natural fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, wool, or flax. Avoid clothing made of synthetic fabrics like spandex, nylon, and polyester as they are made using fossil fuels, which are nonrenewable.

Buying Local

Buying local does more than put money back into the community. It’s a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of food and other goods. Normally, food travels from the farm to packing houses to grocery stores. The number of miles that food travels is called food miles. It causes a significant amount of greenhouse gases that pollute the air and contributes to global warming. These foods also use up energy in other ways, such as refrigeration.

By buying from local farms and markets, people are skipping the middleman and vastly reducing food miles. Because they travel less, there is also less bruising or spoilage. Locally grown food also uses less packaging than shipped foods. Less plastic packaging means less discarded plastic ends up in landfills or the ocean waters.

Food isn’t the only thing that one can buy locally. Buying any item that’s made and sold in one’s city, town, or neighborhood will help reduce fuel consumption and waste in much the same way as food. Goods that are made locally often use locally sourced materials and don’t need to travel as far to get to the consumer. Because they don’t require extra packaging for shipping, there is also less waste.

Reducing and Reusing

A large part of being a responsible and sustainable shopper is knowing how to shop less. When a person shops less, they are ultimately reducing the amount of waste that they create and aren’t contributing to the depletion of natural resources. They make thoughtful decisions about what they buy, only buy what they need, and make less frequent shopping trips.

Reducing goes hand in hand with reusing. Often, one can easily reduce the amount of shopping that they do by reusing what they already own. For example, a person might reuse their umbrella instead of buying a new one. A single purchase, like buying a reusable water bottle, can also be a form of reducing and reusing. Besides buying quality goods that are reusable, one should also buy things that serve multiple purposes.

There are some items that a person can reuse, but in a way that differs from their original purpose. This is called repurposing. Sometimes thinking outside of the box and repurposing something that’s old can be an alternative to buying something that’s new.

Even if one can’t reuse or repurpose an item themselves, they can donate or give it away to someone who can. By reducing and reusing, people help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and create less waste.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade ensures that farmers and laborers from developing countries receive fair trade terms and that products are being produced under ethical conditions. They must provide safe working conditions, opportunities for disadvantaged people, gender equality, and fair wages. Fair Trade is also good for the environment as it requires the use of sustainable processes.

There are several third-party certifications that farmers and producers can apply for from organizations such as Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade America. These organizations have standards, including environmental guidelines, that farmers and producers must meet in order to become certified as Fair Trade.

When buying Fair Trade, it’s important to look for certification labels or symbols. When shopping online, a Fair Trade company should have an easy-to-locate certification label on their website, while goods sold in stores should have symbols that are displayed on the product itself. These labels show that items meet the environmental criteria set by the specific certifying organization. To know what these criteria are, people should research the standards set by the specific organization that the label or mark is from.

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