Winter is the holiday season, with many people around the world celebrating major events that most of the time include gifts. No matter if you are looking to surprise your loved ones, your friends or yourself with a nice gift, it is important to stay true to your green lifestyle. Fortunately, it is possible to shop without destroying our beautiful planet or causing harm to animals, plants and other people. If you find eco-friendly products – genuine eco-friendly and non-green-washed items – you can have a merry little green Christmas.
Read the label
The brand is the best place to start when choosing which green products to buy. No matter if you buy food, hygiene products, makeup or decoration, be sure to look at the ingredient list. The label will contain all the chemicals that get into or on your body, spread around your house or end up in water or soil. When buying food or skin care, a shorter ingredient list is usually better, but specific ingredients are also important. For example, try to avoid palm oil and parabens.
Examine the packaging
Packaging is important not only for marketing but also for the environment. To be environmentally friendly, it is best to choose organic packaging such as glass, metal and paper, as these are easier to reuse, reuse or biodegradable. Once you have the choice, you can also look for smaller packaging and choose products that are not unpacked. One of the most important red flags is packaging that is labeled as “completely recyclable”, yet does not contain recyclable materials – this is a huge double standard and a classic case of throwing the responsibility on someone else.
Focus on details
Another good place to check if a product is organic and environmentally friendly is to check the company’s claims. You can find these on their website, in ads and on the packaging or labels. It’s easy to say that a product is “green” and “natural”, but it’s too broad. Instead, look for specific claims like “made from 100% recycled materials” or “made without artificial colors and scents”. For example, when buying a beautiful cowhide handbag for yourself or your loved one, check the website and see if their leather and hides are by-products of the meat and dairy industry. This means that this manufacturer reduces waste and respects animals properly by using all their parts.
Check the certifications
It’s easy to find packaging full of logos from organizations that award certifications and confirm that a product or brand is healthy, organic or environmentally friendly. However, you should take these with a pinch of salt. It is important to read certifications carefully or even contact Consumer Report’s Greener Choices and learn about various terms such as non-GMO, organic, fair trade, etc. Some organizations are also more respectable and reputable than others, so if you notice that a product is approved by Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance, Leaping Bunny or GOTS, you can safely invest and be sure you did the right thing.
Look for locations of eco-friendly products
Where the item is produced and where you get it also matters. For example, to reduce pollution and energy waste, it is always better to buy domestic instead of foreign products. It is also better to buy products that come from independent and family owned companies instead of companies. These local places can be accessed on foot, have a much shorter supply chain and come from smaller farms and suppliers.
Know how to avoid greenwashing
Because green products are so coveted today, many companies try to trick consumers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly and socially and environmentally responsible. How do they manage to fool us? With green and earth-colored packaging and labels with animals, trees and nature. Any business that advertises its sustainability with only vague words and images does not deserve your money. These tactics known as greenwashing need to be overlooked and you need to do real research to find really responsible brands that care and actually give back to the environment.
We all have to shop often to get necessary things like groceries and clothes. But many purchases we make and many gifts we give out are completely unnecessary. When choosing your gifts this year, consider the aforementioned green aspects of it, but also invest in products you know will be used and appreciated for years instead of ending up in some landfill in a few months. If you do all your homework and thoughtfulness, you can start calling yourself a responsible green buyer.