Buy what you need. Use what you buy.
Are you one of the millions of Americans throwing away money on food you don’t eat, electricity you don’t enjoy and possessions you don’t need? In its report, “The Food Wastage Footprint,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that a year of wasted food had a carbon footprint equal to 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Why so much waste? Simply put: We don’t know how to live on less.
From turning off lights to exploring alternative packing materials, sustainable shopping habits save you money and support the environment. In essence, let’s start thinking in terms of “buy-what-we-need, use-all-we-buy.” This sentiment might sound strange in our culture of excess, but the concept is growing in popularity amongst responsible business owners. Consider former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch and his plans to develop a new concept store-restaurant selling food that was rejected from supermarkets based on appearance or arbitrary age-guidelines. His project, called The Daily Table, is an effort to utilize these would-be wasted foods to feed Boston’s hungry, low income residents.
Rauch’s passion for reusing and maximizing resources should be an inspiration to all of us to think and live differently, greener. Where can we cut back, reuse and repurpose? And how can we find ways to support our community by making small changes in the little choices we make every day.
How about this for a small, easy change: eat at restaurants that support sustainable, green business practices. For example, Panera Bread Company donates leftover baked goods to charitable organizations in need every night after closing. Not only do the communities surrounding their bakery-cafes benefit from the donations, but awareness of Panera’s cause marketing efforts has increased green business practices of competitors.
Cut down on your electric waste by turning off lights, closing doors and setting the temperature a little higher than normal. Not only are these actions better for the environment, they’re healthier for you too. Research shows that the human body works better when it’s allowed to experience seasonal temperature and lighting changes.
Another way you can choose to conserve is by shopping for fair trade items instead of conventional products. Fair trade is a term for the direct relationship between consumers and producers. In a fair trade relationship craftsmen and buyers work together to ensure that products are created using eco-friendly business practices and materials and a good price is then paid for those products. Since fair trade products are often made using traditional methods and materials, buying these items also serves to keep cultures alive and vibrant.
Talk to us: What other opportunities do you have every day to cut back, give back and do more?