Adventures in Green Shopping

It’s a sign of the times when caring for the environment has become part of your daily routine. I learned it the hard way, a lesson that’s been especially pressed on to me more so since the recent typhoons’ onslaught in the country. Checking out some interesting sites and reading up on ways to reduce my trash made me realize that Going Green is as easy as changing one thing about your lifestyle — or it can be a combination of changes.

That made me think about my daily routine. At first i was intimidated to get into the green bandwagon (after all, i live in a building and had no means to make my own compost, plant trees, or even put up solar panels). What can i do? I started with changing my bulbs to CFLs — that worked BIG time for such a small change. Reducing cost of energy as well as reducing my usage of energy? Neat-o! But what else? Aside from work, i usually would go get stock for my kitchen, as well as other items i may need in the house. That usually meant lots of shopping bags, which was usually made of plastic.

It was like a lightbulb went inside my head — say no to plastic bags!

Lucky for us busy urbanites, so many “green bags” are being offered these days that it’s not a very difficult thing to do! Supermarkets and other stores are starting to go green by supplying shoppers with green bags or reusable totes for their shopping items, even offering promos/rebates for using them. Rustan’s Supermarket started the go green trend with their rebate program (using a green bag doubles your purchase points). SM even has a GREEN shopping day (wednesday — so you can get points for using the bag). . I’m glad that most companies have adopted the “say no to plastic” idealogy by giving their customers an option.

Of course, there are other “designer-type” bags you can also buy to replace your plastic bag usage. Most of them are small enough to fit into your bag so you can use them whenever and wherever. This makes it more convenient for us, especially those who complain that bringing extra bags can be too much (?) to carry around. I was fortunate enough to get two of these reusable bags as gifts last year, which made my shopping experience a more green-conscious one! Just make sure you remember to bring yours when you head out the door — i remember the first few times i went out without them in my bag, i felt so foolish and guilty for buying something that i ended up just keeping the receipt and stuffing what i bought into my small purse. I ended up mooshing what i bought and making a mess in my bag. That will teach me!

If you’re not into buying a “green bag”, bring one existing bag that’s not used (a canvas bag or old tote bag will do) for your purchases. Be creative! Jazz it up with some paint, colors and/or beads to make it your own. Bags are there for a purpose, to carry things, but if you prefer yours with a certain look, by all means go get creative! A friend of mine reuses her old canvas bags to purchase food and other items from the market, killing two birds with one stone: she is able to re-purpose her old bag, and do her share in saving the environment!

Another tip i got on green shopping was to carefully consideration the items i buy. “While reusing bags can help out tremendously, let’s also consider the packaging in which our bought items are in“. I started to consider packages in paper and other recyclable items (like cardboard, tetra packs, etc.). It’s hard to shop when you’re thinking about all these things, i must admit!

Is it paper? plastic? If so, can these be reused once the item is out of the packaging?

Consider items that are “tingi” or in small portions that is commonly used in our society. While these serve as an economic solution to provide the items at a cheaper cost, most of these are packed in plastic too small to be reused. The amount of the product is also significantly diminished, which leads me to ask, is it really worth buying? Since you can’t reuse the packaging it comes with (usually in plastic), throwing away the plastic packaging only adds up to the plastic pollution. My mom was indeed right — buying in bulk really was a good way to go, especially with items that don’t spoil so easily, since they keep and use less plastic for packaging (i started the big plastic packaging as liners for my trashcans — a neat way to reuse them! check out this video for more ways on reusing plastic bags) which made me feel (admittedly) good about shopping (well, usually shopping does give me a boost, but knowing that i am shopping with a more green-conscious mind makes it all the better!)

frailty01So there you have it. I still haven’t been able to install solar panels to harness solar power (if only!) or really contributed to local market support (i think i need to do that more), but i’d like to think i’ve started making a dent on my carbon footprint by living the “green lifestyle” through these very simple steps.I have to admit, the cause is a bit daunting. Sometimes i win, sometimes i lose. Living the green lifestyle is challenging, especially when you know a plastic bag is so readily available and items are packaged so readily into solo servings. I guess the main challenge that i face is whether or not to give in to the easy life or be conscious of my actions. But the reward/item is so much sweeter when you buy it knowing you did your bestest to not make a mess of your planet, by doing your share. 🙂

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