Buying: Knowing What to Buy
Others may usually do the shopping for your family, but that does not mean you cannot have a say in what they buy. With your new “green” knowledge, you can help your family make responsible decisions when they go to the store. Did you know that there are certain appliances, disposable cups, and even food that is more environmentally friendly? Here are a few ideas of what to look for next time you tag along on a shopping trip.
ENERGY STAR® Rated Appliances
An ENERGY STAR rating means that an appliance uses 20--30 percent less electricity than what is generally required by law. ENERGY STAR appliances come in all shapes and sizes – anything from dishwashers to light bulbs to even TVs and computers. Americans have already purchased over 2.5 billion ENERGY STAR products, and that number is growing. This is what their logo looks like:
Paper Made from Recycled Content
Paper and other paper products are some of the most frequently used goods in our world---everything from blowing your nose to doing your homework to reading the comics. Most paper products come directly from trees. Each year, the average American uses an amount of paper equal to a 100-foot tall Douglas fir tree!
While you may look outside your window or at a park and see lots of trees, it is important to remember that the world does not have enough trees to keep up with our paper consumption. It may take seconds to crumple up a paper towel and throw it in the trash, but it takes decades for a tree to grow! Fortunately, there is a solution! We can recycle the paper we already have and use it to make brand new paper goods.
Did you know that more than just printer paper can be made of recycled content? You can find napkins, toilet paper, notebooks, envelopes, printer paper, and greeting cards all made from recycled products. Next time you go back to school shopping, make the “green” choice, and look for these environmentally friendly products. Check the labels to see if they are made of recycled content.
Fun Activity: Make your own recycled paper at home!
The EcoKids Club has come up with a simple and quick process for making your own recycled paper at home. Before starting, talk to your parents about the activity and explain to them why it is so important to save paper and to recycle.
Whether paper, plastic, or Styrofoam, disposable products have to go somewhere. Landfills are full of them. Whenever possible, consider switching to products that can be used over and over again.
Why Not Just Recycle?
Unfortunately, recycling is not an option for most disposable cups. Paper cups are typically lined with a special coating for insulation and durability, making them nonrecyclable. What about Styrofoam cups? Environmentalists tell us that Styrofoam cups are even worse; not only can you not recycle them; they will never decompose in a landfill.
Most likely, you are not the one in charge of doing the grocery shopping for your family, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your parents make greener decisions when it comes to their grocery list. There are small changes you can make in terms of what you buy and the way you buy it. Below are a few tips for being more “green” at the grocery store.
1. Only Buy the Necessities
Don’t buy things you don’t need. Make a grocery list before you go to the store and stick to it. This will reduce the amount of waste in regard to both spoiled food and additional trash.
2. Buy Local Products
Look for produce and meat that comes from local farms. This will help support your local economy while also significantly cutting down on the energy consumption and pollution that occurs during transportation.
3. Buy Organic Foods
You can find organic products in all major grocery stores and at relatively reasonable prices. Organic groceries are grown without pesticides and hormones, a healthier choice for you and your environment.
Reduce Overall Packaging and Waste
Landfills are quickly filling up with every imaginable type of garbage. There are a few simple changes you can make to do your part in reducing the amount of garbage heading to the dump.
1. Bring Your Own Bag
By bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store, you can significantly lower the waste from plastic (non-recyclable) grocery bags. You can find cheap bags in lots of fun designs. Show your parents the Envirosax website and encourage them to buy a set of reusable grocery bags.
2. Skip the Bottled Water
Next time you go to the grocery store, skip the bottled water and choose a greener option. You can drink tap water at home or use a filter to purify your home tap water. For water outside of the home, consider reusable water bottles.
3. Buy in Bulk
One easy way to reduce waste is to buy products you need that can be easily stored in bulk. Products packaged in bulk use less packaging, greatly reducing the amount of cardboard and plastic waste.
4. Banish the Brown Bag
Instead of bringing your lunch to school in a brown paper bag, ask your parents to buy you a reusable bag. You can find all kinds of cool lunch boxes online at www.reusablebags.com. Also, instead of putting sandwiches and other snacks in plastic baggies, pack them in reusable plastic containers..