Environmental Shopping
Thinking It Through
What is most important to you in making a purchase? Cost? Quality? Environmental impact? Energy efficiency? How much garbage it produces? Whether it best meets your needs? This survey will help you consider the environmental impact of your shopping habits. Select the number that best describes your consumer purchases and then 'Calculate' your total to see how you rate as an environmental shopper.
DO YOU...  Never   Sometimes   Often 
1. Think about what happens to a product or package when you are finished with it?   3 2 1
2. Try to reuse things or repair them instead of disposing of them and buying something new?   3 2 1
3. Consider what resources were used to make the product you are buying?   3 2 1
4. Think about how much waste and pollution were created in the manufacturing of the things you buy?   3 2 1
5. Participate in recycling opportunities in your area?   3 2 1
6. Ever shop at secondhand stores or garage sales?   3 2 1
7. Recycle soda containers?   3 2 1
8. Ever buy products in refillable containers?   3 2 1
9. Ever buy multifunction products, such as shampoo/conditioner?   3 2 1
10. Ever find occasions when single-serving containers are less wasteful than large-serving containers?   3 2 1
11. Ever say to a store clerk, "Thanks, but I don't need a bag" or bring your own shopping bag?   3 2 1
12. Express your concern about wasteful or harmful products to the manufacturer or government officials?   3 2 1
13. Recognize the use of durable products as better than disposables in certain instances?   3 2 1
14. Research consumer magazines to find out more about a product you plan to buy?   3 2 1
15. Consider whether you really need a product before you buy it?   3 2 1
If you scored...
40 or more: The Earth says, "Think before you buy, and consider the whole picture."
21 to 39: The Earth says, "You're getting the message - resources don't last forever."
20 or less: The Earth says, "You're already a thoughtful consumer. Spread the word about shopping with concern for the environment and encourage others to think about the whole picture too!"
Environmental Shopping Tips
The best approach to managing waste is to avoid producing waste - in the products you buy and items you throw away.
The following tips can be used to help reduce the amount of packaging or products you throw away.
Think before you buy...
Consider the potential waste associated with the products you want to buy. What part of the product will be discarded after purchase? What type of waste will be generated in using the product?
Buy only what you need...
Buy the right amount of the right product you need for the task. Consider each purchase and ask yourself  "Do I really need to make this purchase?" and "Do I already have something that I can use instead?"
Select durable items...
Many disposable items, such as razors, sandwich bags, plastic plates, and batteries, can be substituted with more durable, washable, repairable, or reusable products. Invest in durable items that you can use over and over again, such as plastic sandwich containers, ceramic coffee mugs, electric razors, and rechargeable batteries.
Buy products having the least amount of packaging...
Many products come in a wide choice of packaging options available for the products you purchase regularly. Avoid those that use several layers when one would do.
Buy a package size which is the largest possible for your needs which does not result in product waste...
Larger sizes generally use less packaging per unit of product. Items with a long shelf life, such as laundry detergent, window cleaner, and dry pet food, can be purchased in large containers. Refill a smaller spray bottle or dispenser from the large container.
Look for products with reusable packaging rather than throw-aways...
For example, frozen and microwave-able convenience foods often come with a reusable dish.
Consider multifunction products...
Such as shampoo plus conditioner, or laundry detergent and bleach combined as one product.
Buy products in concentrated forms or in refillable packaging...
Concentrated cleaning supplies can be diluted and poured into containers that can be used many times.
Pick packages which can be recycled in your community and recycle them...
For products whose package materials are not currently recyclable in your community, look for ways to reduce the amount you buy - for instance, buy concentrated products or refills.
Buy items packaged with recycled materials...
To stimulate use for items collected in local recycling programs
Know the rules of your local program and follow them...
Even though a package is labeled recyclable, it may not be accepted by the recycling program in your community. Each recycling center has different requirements for sorting, removing caps and labels, rinsing, etc. Improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your local program by following these rules.
Contact manufacturers to let them know what you think of their packages...
Manufacturers listen and will change packages in response to customer needs. Your buying decisions, attitudes, and preferences influence businesses and industries to change products to adopt practices that affect the environment in many ways.
West Virginia University
Extension Service
Carolann Cook, Extension Specialist, 1993
Sally Summers, CHE, Extension Agent and Extension Associate Professor, and Mary Lou Schmidt, CHE, Extension Agent and Extension associate Professor, provided technical assistance for this publication.
Selected material from the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association, Inc., and Proctor and Gamble Company were reviewed in the development of this publication.