Often, when we want to help a good cause, we’ll donate money to a charity or a fund or collection. This is important; it helps these organisations do their work and make a big difference. But it’s not the only way you can use your money to help. We spend money all the time; we buy food, drink, furniture, cleaning products, clothes, toiletries, makeup and more. It adds up to a lot of money, and where you spend it and what you spend it all can also make a big difference.
How your shopping helps
‘Money talks’, the saying go, and choosing products and services that are ethical, environmentally friendly, support development and equality and consider people and the environment gives them a boost and helps people, animals and the environment too. It also sends a message to the goverment and businesses. They want your money, and if you choose to spend your money with these types of products and services, it tells them that these things are important to you and make you more likely to spend on those types of things, so if they want your money too, they’ll need to start being more environmentally friendly and ethical to tempt you to spend with them. There are lots of little changes you can make with your day-to-day shopping that will have all sorts of positive benefits!
There is so much you can do here! Firstly, try and shop local, and choose smaller independent shops like your local butchers and greengrocers and bakers. Shopping with smaller retailers helps support small businesses and help keeps money in your local community. You may also find that they stock food from local suppliers and growers, which keeps the carbon footprint of your food lower. Shop seasonally. There is loads of advice online about what fruit, vegetables and fish are good to eat at different times of year. Food grown in season is less likely to have been grown in a greenhouse and shipped from overseas. Try and avoid food that has lots of wastefully packing on it. The is another plus point for shopping locally. Bring a bag and you’ll usually find that your local greengrocer and baker will have food loose and unwrapped so you don’t have plastic and cardboard packaging to dispose of. Where you can, choose food that has the Fair Trade certification, particularly for chocolate, tea and coffee. These mark indicates that the farmers and workers who have grown the food have been paid a fair wage for their work which allows them to support themselves and their families and communities.
You’ll know by now that we’re BIG fans of bringing reusable water bottles and coffee cups with you when you’re out and about. Avoid coffee machines that take little coffee pods: these result in lots of waste material. Instead, choose a good coffee machine, cafetiere or similar that takes loose ground coffee. If you’re drinking fizzy drinks, don’t forget to wash and recyle all the cans and bottles, or you could get something like a Soda Stream so you can make drinks like cola and sparkling orange yourself at home.
Furniture and appliances
When you’re searching for a new washing machine or diswasher, look out for models that have a high eco rating. These will be really energy- and water-efficient which has the added benefit of reducing your electricity and water bills as well as saving resources! If you’re looking for new furniture, ensure the wood is FSC certified. FSC stands for the Forestry Stewardship Council, and indicates that the wood in the furniture has come from a sustainable, managed source. Another great way of making your furniture even more environmentally friendly is to find good second hand furniture. You can even spruce it up yourself with some paint or by having it reupholstered.
Cleaning products can be really harmful for the environment. Luckily, there are more and more environmentally friendly alternatives, including washing up liquids, laundry liquids, window cleaners and more. Although they are convieniant, cleaning wipes are terrible for the environment. They don’t break down easily and can end up blocking pipes and getting in our waterways and eventually the ocean where they pollute the sea and choke marine animals.
Finding shampoo, shower gell, body lotions and other potions for keeping people clean and smelling nice without harming the environment is a lot easier than it used to be. Shops like Lush and The Body Shop produce products that aren’t tested on animals and use natural substances without relying on artificial colours and scents. Both will also recycle your empty product bottles, which is a double win. The Ethical Superstore is a great resource for finding environmentally friendly toiletries, even stocking razors made from recyclable razors.