Steps we can all take to shop sustainably

Sustainability, it’s a word we’re hearing more and more in our everyday language. We see it in the newspaper, on social media posts as organisations share their CSR and ESG progress, and it’s also becoming common to see it in our local shops.

As part of our 2022 focus on how we can all make small changes to help shape a greener future, we look at how you can make shopping more sustainable.

Ditch the plastic bags

Wales first introduced a charge for plastic bags in retail stores in 2011. Shortly followed by Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. With moves made more recently to increase the costs to further discourage opting for single-use bags. An initiative the UK Government says has seen a 95% reduction in plastic bag sales across major supermarkets in England, since 2015. It’s estimated that the average household used around 140 single-use plastic bags a year prior to the bag charge being introduced – amounting to 61,000 tonnes in total. When considered across the globe not just within the UK, the volume of single-use plastic bags being produced is staggering.

Although being prepared in advance with reusable shopping bags can take some getting used to, it’s a green swap that hugely helps reduce the amount of single-use plastic being produced. A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to fully disintegrate, with damaging consequences for wildlife if these plastic bags land in our seas, lakes or rivers. Making it an even smarter switch if you haven’t already swapped over to reusable bags.

Be supply chain conscious

Do you ever consider where the products you pick off the shelf or drop into your online basket come from? Where they are manufactured, or what processes are used?

In today’s changing world consumers are becoming more interested in knowing this information – as it can often help to form a decision about their perception of the company they’re purchasing from. That’s where that word sustainability comes into play again. As retailers advertise sustainable materials or a sustainable supply chain as they recognise that their customers are placing increasing importance on this.

It’s worth taking the time to dig a little deeper though for the products you regularly purchase, and retailers you usually visit.

Consider the carbon footprint

Organisations are now becoming much more transparent about how their products arrive on the shelf or warehouse racking. A quick internet search or browse through their website can often help to identify where products are manufactured and how they are distributed.

Look for any environmental endorsements they have accumulated, or recognised schemes they are members of – which will help to understand their commitment to sustainability.

Look for environmental initiatives

Many retailers are looking to work with their customers to achieve their environmental goals – and offering discounts and savings as a reward.

When you’re next grabbing a coffee, check if there is a discount available for bringing your own reusable cup – many businesses are now rewarding their customers for being more environmentally conscious.

Some fashion retailers are also making steps towards becoming more sustainable long term by offering customers the opportunity to bring in clothes they no longer wear – providing a convenient recycling scheme.

Whether you’re looking to make a few initial changes or much larger adjustments to how you shop, any changes no matter how small can add it to make a huge difference in a few years’ time.

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