With the launch of the University of Southampton’s “Be a Green Shopper” initiative, we are once again being implored to be more eco-friendly in our shopping habits. But is it easy being green? And why is it so important?
Green shopping bags
The university’s campaign is the latest aimed at promoting eco-friendly shopping choices. Its founder, Alison Simmance, is inviting participants to create their own eco-friendly shopping bag from recycled material, an idea that was inspired by a visit to the Gioto Garbage Slum in Kenya, where resourceful local women are recycling plastic to create purses and handbags.
The university hopes that its project will highlight the importance of sustainability for today’s high-volume consumers, for who shops are filled with cheap disposable products, many of which are made from plastic that could be recycled but usually ends up in landfills around the world.
With so many products claiming to be “green” or “eco-friendly”, it is becoming more difficult for consumers to discern which products actually aren’t harmful to the environment and which are using “greenness” as an empty sales tactic.
Bona fide greenness
Products that are genuinely eco-friendly are those that benefit the environment or contribute to efforts to protect or improve it. They are products made in ways that prevent pollution of the air, water or land, that minimise the use of non-renewable resources, that prevent reusable resources from going to landfills or that are created from biodegradable materials that will decompose naturally.
However, being a green shopper does not only mean choosing eco-friendly products. It means being conscious of the way we dispose of unwanted products or their packaging when we are finished with them.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
The mantra of every green shopper should be “reduce, reuse, recycle.” If you can reduce your consumption of non-renewable resources and products that are not environmentally friendly, such as unrecycled paper, petrol or disposable carrier bags and then ensure you reuse everything as much as possible before recycling items when they are no longer useful, you can call yourself a “green shopper”.
One man’s trash . . .
H&M is the latest fashion store to launch a campaign encouraging its customers to recycle the clothes they no longer wear. Customers can receive a discount voucher if they bring in a bag of clothes when they make a purchase of £30 or more. However, if fashion shoppers have clothes that are in good condition they may find they can sell unwanted clothes online to make more money.
Other options for recycling unwanted clothes include making charity donations, using clothes banks or getting crafty and turning your old clothes into cushions – or, like the resourceful Kenyan businesswomen, into unique handbags or purses to sell.
Being green is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, it can even be profitable!