Sustainable shopping tips

The choices we make at the checkout can have a considerable impact on our sustainable future. Showing retailers and manufacturers that we want sustainable options will create a demand for more of them. When shopping for food and groceries, electrical appliances or household furniture, we have environmentally friendly choices.

We want more choice for sustainable products

When shopping for any new appliances for yourself or your home, we encourage you to consider the energy rating. This is easy to do with household appliances due to the energy and water ratings now mandatory on all products. But the sustainability of the food, grocery and furniture products that you buy is more difficult to know.

The best way to make your decision is to know where it has come from – if it has come outside of your state (eg. NSW) or country (eg. Australia), it will generally have a larger carbon footprint due to the journey it has taken to reach you. You should also take notice of what material it is packed in – recycled paper or cardboard, glass that can be reused or plastic that can be recycled. Of course, all of this is more obvious but do you think about what you are using to carry it home? Try to use material bags rather than plastic or paper and if you can walk from the shop instead of driving, this will also help keep your footprint down.

Top Tips for sustainable shopping

We have listed some sustainable shopping tips to help you remember what to look out for when you’re making a purchase decision. Whether it’s an impulse buy or a once in a decade purchase, your choice can make a difference.
Remember, it’s ok to be demanding
If eco-labelled goods are not available from your local shops, ask for them.

Businesses do listen to their customers. We have the power to change the selection of products that are available to us. So make shop managers aware of your demand for eco-friendly products.
Family supermarket shopping. A mother looks at fruit and vegetables with her children. 09 August ... 
	© WWF / Richard Stonehouse
Family supermarket shopping. A mother looks at fruit and vegetables with her children. 09 August 2010. WWF documented a typical family day in the UK. The presence of palm oil in many of the household products used, eaten, and purchased in the course of the day was surprising and pervasive.
© WWF / Richard Stonehouse
Tip 1: Buy local
Think about how far the food you buy has to travel before it reaches your table? Wherever possible, buy local, seasonal produce that hasn’t crossed the globe to get to you.
Tip 2: Buy recycled
As important as it is to ensure that you recycle your products at the end of their life, it is equally important that you buy products that are made from those recycled materials.
Buying recycled products saves energy and resources and reduces waste.
Tip 3: Bring your own bag
Using your own bag, instead of the plastic or paper ones given away by stores, reduces waste.
Tip 4: Choose sustainably sourced wood
Make sure that any timber products you buy - from garden chairs to toilet roll, paper and envelopes - carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label.

If you can’t find FSC-certified products in your local store, please ask the store manager to supply them.
Find out more about sustainable wood products.
Tip 5: Say "yes" to sustainable seafood
If you enjoy salmon, tuna or any other fish or seafood, make sure you always look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification mark.

The MSC certification gives you a simple way to identify and purchase seafood from well-managed sources.
Find out more about sustainable seafood.
Tip 6: The less packaging the better
Excessive product packaging is just a waste. What you really want is the thing inside. This means less demand on resources and less waste in landfills. Landfills release large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Tip 7: Choose biodegradable cleaning products
Green cleaning products have fewer negative impacts on the soil and water system after you’ve finished using them.
Tip 8: Buy energy-efficient appliances
If you’re buying a TV, washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher or oven, buy the most energy and water efficient model you can afford.

Energy and water efficient electrical appliances might be a little more expensive but they pay for themselves through lower energy and water bills. The same is true for office equipment like computers, copiers and printers.
Find out more about energy efficient appliances.
Tip 9: Think before you buy
To reduce over consumption, buy items that will last longer instead of buying the same item several times. Or consider buying second-hand.
Reduce the amount of materials you use by buying in bulk.
Repair appliances and furniture instead of replacing them.
Avoid disposable products.
Reuse containers, building materials and clothing.
Repair and sell things you no longer need.