My Green Shopping Guidelines

Shopping for me is an emotional roller coaster. I want to enjoy myself, I like buying things just like everyone else but I as I stand there holding my intended purchase, I’m often paralysed by the million questions whirling around my head.

Where did this come from? Was it made in a sweatshop?? Should I buy this cheap one or that really expensive one and what’s the actual difference between the two??? What other things am I missing that I should also be concerned about???? Do I even need it anyway?????


Overwhelmed, I’ll often return home empty handed, find out it was something I did actually need after all, and have to head back in to start the whole process over again.

I know, I’m a freak.

In a bid to avoid any future episodes of running from a store sobbing (that never happened, I’m kidding….sort of), I thought I’d set a common set of sustainable shopping rules to ask myself about any purchase I am considering:

  • Am I comfortable with the materials is it made out of?
    If it is wood, is there anything to indicate if it is responsibly sourced or if it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Is there an alternative made from recycled materials?
    I try to avoid plastic as much as possible, especially for kids stuff because it doesn’t have as long a life as perhaps wood or metal, especially if it will spend any amount of time outdoors.
  • Is it sturdy?
    It seems most things produced these days are intentionally made to have only a short life span. I want something that will stand the test of time. Something that I can pass on to the next person once I no longer have a need for it.
  • If it is a piece of clothing, will it stand up to the rigors of my lifestyle?
    As a mum, will it survive the hems being pulled on, biscuit being smeared into it and then washed over and over again without losing its shape? You’d be surprised how many clothes don’t actually do this!
  • Is it locally made?
    I try to go Australian Made or as close to the source as possible but often there is not an Australian Made option. If it was made overseas, is there anything to suggest that the product has been produced unethically? (A very low price and an obviously low grade product send red flags up for me).
  • Does the company I’m buying from practice safe, sustainable and ethical methods?
    Some prior research may be necessary to know which companies to avoid, and which to shop at with your conscience clear. Some good resources to start with are:
    Ethical Clothing Australia
    The Green Directory
    Ethical Consumer Guide

If the answer to all these questions is no then it’s not the end of the world, it just means I may have to look a bit harder to find the product that fits my criteria. We are lucky to live in an age where choice abounds and pretty much anything and everything can be found online to fit the requirements we set.

Plus, avoiding products that don’t fit my consumer rules, it sends a message to the supplier that I don’t want their substandard products and if enough people were to shop the same way, that message would speak louder than anything else.

What guidelines, if any, do you follow when considering which product to buy?

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