The OED definition for sustainability is: "avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance." You're already off to a great start just by recycling bottles and cans. Read more to learn a few more habits to increase your sustainability as a consumer too.
Becoming a more sustainable shopper isn't as difficult as it sounds, and the payoffs are amazing. Just simple acts, minor changes in behaviors will have a major impact. A few drops of water in the bucket at a time may not seem like a lot, but think if we were to all add a few drops to the same bucket. All it takes is a little bit of preparation and goodwill. Really, it's not as daunting as it sounds and like any positive intentioned objective, it will make you feel good.
Deep sea divers recently found a plastic bag at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. One moment you're carrying your groceries home the next, that plastic bag has gone on the adventure of a lifetime. Here's a reusable idea: use your Lands' End canvas tote to carry your groceries. Soon you'll forget what it's like when a paper handle or bottom tears. Plus, you won't have to chase a scattering group of rogue apples across the parking lot anymore. Keep several sizes of canvas totes in your car for shopping trips. Use the largest tote for lighter goods to make it easier to carry. Once you unpack your groceries or market finds, return the totes to your trunk and you're ready to go again.
Consider purchasing timeless styles and well-made clothes that will be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. When you consider your cost per wear, the cashmere sweater you'll enjoy for years to come is suddenly a good investment. When you think about the next few years and not just the next season, you're adding "savvy" to your "sustainable shopper" title. Check out Supima cotton tees, button front shirts, and sheets or towels. Supima cotton is very strong and retains dyes better than regular cotton. Clothes made with Supima will get softer over time so you know you won't be trading them in any time soon.
Even though you're being your best sustainable self, there will still be moments when you've outgrown or outlasted your own clothing. Instead of throwing away a favorite pair of jeans or a flannel shirt with a rip in it, start a donation bag or bin in your house. When you donate, you are helping to recycle your clothing in some way. Whether it's resold or going to a textile recycling plant, it's at least on its way toward a better future.
Pro tip: make sure you don't leave the donations outside in the rain. Wet clothes are usually the first to be discarded to landfills and may never make it to a recycling plant.
Looking for long-lasting clothes that are made with sustainability in mind? Bluesign ensures that from the point of origin to the moment you wear them, you are getting a product that is made with safe and earth-friendly textile practices. According to Bluesign, their requirements for its approved products are:
Check out the Bluesign approved items at Lands' End to see your earth-loving options!
Here's another stellar indicator for you to keep in mind while shopping. Oeko-Tex tests textiles to determine if there are any harmful substances present in them. When items have the Oeko-Tex Certification, it provides a sigh of relief for the consumer. After all, clothes touch our skin constantly, and we're not willing to take a chance.
Sign up for e-newsletters. Check your bank statements online. It's nice to receive physical mail from your parents or grandparents, but when every day you're tossing unopened marketing material in the recycling bin or trash, you're adding unnecessary waste. Give it a try!
You don't have to get a soap box and go out to the town square. But incorporate it into your daily discourse. When somebody asks you how you've been you can say: "Well I learned a bit more about how I can be sustainable, so I'm working on that. It's like a diet, but for how I interact with my shopping habits." Plus, they might have some interesting tips that will help you out too.