This week’s guest post is brought to you by Lauren Greenwood, who runs the zero-waste Instagram account @green.ify. Be sure to visit her Instagram for college- green living tips!
Although we may not even realize it, each shopping trip we take can be a wasteful experience. Whether it’s the plastic bags or the single use products we buy, what we consume adds up and will soon end up in landfills. But shopping trips don’t have to be wasteful! Here are simple things I do to avoid creating waste while shopping…
Let’s start with groceries! A common go-to is bringing your own bags. Don’t stop with grocery bags–I also use reusable cotton produce bags and bulk bags to buy my food. You can find reusable mesh produce bags and bulk bags like these from plenty of online zero waste shops such as Package Free Shop and Life Without Plastic. These allow you to avoid foods that are pre-packaged in plastic and other non-recyclable materials by purchasing loose produce and getting nuts, grains, seeds, pastas, and other snacks from the bulk section. Yes, these bags are easy to forget if you aren’t in the habit, so my tip is to keep them in your car, by the front door, or somewhere you won’t forget to grab them before you leave!
Next, fashion! Clothing may not come to mind when you think about the trash you produce, but some clothes barely last a few months in our closets! My first tip to avoid this is simply reduce the amount you are consuming. Simply ask yourself if you truly need something before you purchase it. If I really do need to purchase an item of clothing, I try to buy mine secondhand from resale shops, apps like Poshmark, or even from friends. If you don’t have luck with that, then I try searching for ethical brands that use sustainable materials such as organic cotton! With a little searching on the internet, you can find tons of ethical brands that will last longer than fast fashion.
Last, beauty. Finding ethical and low waste options for beauty can be a little trickier, since almost all of the most accessible products are packaged in plastic. However, I have been ordering my makeup from companies such as Elate Cosmetics and Zao Organic Makeup for a while now and I love it! You can request plastic-free shipping, and the products come in refillable metal and bamboo compacts. If you’re looking for eco-friendly skin care, I suggest looking for items packaged in recyclable materials and avoiding plastic and disposables where you can. S.W. Basics has a great facial toner and a cleanser both packaged in a glass bottles. Meow Meow Tweet offers natural deodorants in biodegradable tubes and in recyclable glass jars. Both of these brands are also conveniently sold at Target! When it comes to taking off makeup, I use washable cotton facial rounds rather than disposable cotton or makeup wipes.
All of these small swaps can add up to make a huge difference! Try making one small change at a time, like putting your reusable shopping bags in your car. Soon enough you will build a habit and continue green.ify-ing your life!
Lauren Greenwood is a sophomore public health major and sustainability minor from St. Louis. She runs the zero-waste Instagram @green.ify.