Consumer Intake, Consumption, and Pollution

October 9, 2010
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When was the last time you made a purchase and stopped to think of the environmental consequences or benefits of that purchase? Modern American society spends over 4.5 billion dollars in the retail market each year. Many of the items on the buyer’s market take a severe toll on the natural world. As consumers, we have the power to impact the environment in positive or negative ways through our spending’s. To help us be environmentally conscious shoppers we need to know where to shop, what to shop for, and how to shop.

When an item is purchased it often travels hundreds, if not thousands of miles to us and our suppliers. When traveling by bus, train, plane, or ship, each mile traveled is the equivalent of emitting on pound of harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Obviously the less mileage traveled, the lesser the impact on the atmosphere. When purchasing produce and other grocery products try and buy them at local farmers markets, the food is greener, fresher, and supports your local agriculture economy. With clothing and other goods, buy from independent shops and resale stores. Items and materials here have traveled less distance, are being reused, and again support independent businesses. Avoid online shopping as items purchased here travel from warehouses at remote locations throughout the country.

While deciding where to purchase products from, the types of products you buy is equally as important. Organic produce uses no harmful pesticides or toxins to produce fruits and vegetables. Organic meat and poultry companies often operate human, cage free facilities and are responsible for disposing of animal waste in a safe clean matter as opposed to the conventional disposal in a nearby water source or an open field. When purchasing goods with fur, leather, or suede material go faux, as authentic animal products use much more food, water, and power to produce. Avoid buying items on impulse rather than necessity, you will save money, decrease your material intake, and make impulse buying rewarding at special occasions like holidays. If any type of recycled product is available purchase it over a similar product, and when debating other products, choose the one with less packaging.

The final part of making green purchases is checking out and paying. Always be sure to bring reusable shopping bags on shopping trips, not only will you reduce your waste output but you will save money as well since many retailers offer discounts for the use of reusable bags. Reusable bags aren’t limited to pre – packaged items; they can also be used for produce where the same discounts apply. Once you have paid, ask the cashier not to print the receipt as it unnecessarily wastes ink and paper. By taking a little extra time and care, you can make a difference on a worldwide level.

Everyone shops, consumes, and pollutes. But if we all take simple steps to reduce our ecological impacts on the planet, we can make drastic improvements to solve many environmental issues. We can demand the betterment of the environment, or remain silent. We can choose to be ecologically conscious shoppers, or continue our current shopping habits. We can all make our own decisions. What will you choose?

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TryingToBeNaturallyMe said...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:45 pm
first, the only setback i had in reading this article; i think you should just write "the less the impact" rather than "the lesser the impact" I don't know, lesser just doesn't sound that professional. Wait! please don't stop reading this comment because the rest is all good! It put into words what I try to practice and encourage others to practice; small steps to make a difference. I sometimes get discouraged when people go on and on about how we can't change things. I was really happy to hear ... (more »)
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