The North West Star

Sustainable shopping: How to keep your consumer habits circular

Maintaining a sustainable approach to your shopping is actually easier than you may think possible. Picture Shutterstock
Maintaining a sustainable approach to your shopping is actually easier than you may think possible. Picture Shutterstock

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With more and more consumers and companies alike seeking to participate in a circular economy, now is the perfect time to switch up your own buying habits to ensure that your money stays green, so to speak.

But what are the best methods for keeping your consumer habits nice and circular?

Although it may feel daunting at first to evaluate and amend your personal and household shopping habits, maintaining a sustainable approach to your shopping is actually easier than you may think possible.

To help, however, we've put together our favourite tips of shopping sustainably and doing your part to make sure that 'exponential growth' doesn't come at a cost to the environment.

Read on to help you become a more sustainability-savvy shopper.

Buy secondhand wherever you can

One of the best methods for contributing to a circular economy is simply making sure that all your purchases give new life to secondhand products that may otherwise have been needlessly sent to landfill.

Buying your clothes, furnishings and other goods secondhand can help drastically reduce the overall waste created by modern industries.

And thanks to the internet, it's actually now easier than ever to shop secondhand.

You can even shop on eBay through Qantas Shopping to earn Qantas Points, allowing you to experience some serious savings and undeniable value alongside participating in the circular economy.

If you're not one for shopping online, then you can still buy secondhand through frequenting your favourite local thrift shops on a regular basis instead of opting for fast fashion brands or sourcing all your furniture and homewares at furniture retailers who are more likely to stock trendy, mass-produced items at premium price points.

Herein lies another serious benefit of buying secondhand: each and every piece of your wardrobe and home decor will likely come with its own unique story!

Support local makers and retailers

There has been recent widespread conversation about the benefits of shopping locally over supporting larger international or even transnational brands.

For starters, shopping locally can help stimulate the Australian economy by ensuring that Aussie dollars stay right at home where they're needed.

In other words, shopping locally can help create a self-sustaining economy here in Australia, which can help keep our GDP strong year-round.

But there are some environmental benefits to shopping locally as well.

For instance, cutting out the carbon emissions generated by import and export activities, can help ensure that your local purchases maintain a significantly lower carbon footprint when compared to purchases that are made with international retailers.

Simply put, buying products that are made locally and with locally sourced materials, can help your household's carbon footprint stay naturally low, and help your consumer habits stay consistently sustainable and eco-conscious.

And of course, there are a plethora of great Australian makers and retailers who stock locally produced goods, so you'll likely be able to find a local alternative to virtually all your current favourite manufacturers and their product offerings.

Shop durable over disposable

It goes without saying that the enemy of every circular economy are products and manufacturers that maintain a linear production chain rather than a more eco-friendly circular product lifespan.

For modern day consumers that find themselves feeling time-poor, it can be all too easy to opt for cheap and disposable products over more premium options that are likely more equipped to stand the test of time.

Thankfully, you can swap out all your disposable products for more durable alternatives with even minimal consumer research and just a touch more conscientiousness when it comes to doing your weekly household shopping.

For starters, using biodegradable bin liners can help drastically reduce the overall amount of non-degradable waste going to your local landfill every year.

Similarly, more and more households are opting to use biodegradable cleaning wipes instead of traditional wipes, fabric towelettes instead of paper towels, and other 'greener' more durable products like beeswax wraps over plastic wrap.

By adopting these more durable and in some cases even reusable products over their traditional counterparts, your household won't just be reducing its carbon footprint in a major way, but may even be able to cut down on its monthly supermarket expenses too!

Take part in community initiatives to reduce waste

Finally, if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of amendments you can make to your own personal life in order to practise circular consumer habits, it's important to remember that you're not taking up this responsibility all on your own.

In truth, implementing and maintaining a circular economy requires a global effort, and as such, your friends, neighbours, and wider community will likely all be making some changes to their own buying habits.

All you need to do is talk to one another about what swaps you're making in your own homes.

That's what makes initiatives like Plastic Free July such a powerful tool and opportunity for many people.

By getting your friends and family involved in this challenge and other similar community initiatives, you can help equip you and all of your loved ones with the support system and network that they need in order to create new consumer habits that will be sure to stick.

Other similar initiatives you can enjoy with your loved ones as well as your entire household include soft plastics recycling schemes, and perhaps even eco warrior activities or events hosted by your children's schools.

Getting involved in putting together a rain garden, recycling drive, or other community initiatives can be a great way to promote a circular economy starting where it matters most: with education.

As you can see, participating in a circular economy can extend so much further than just revamping your consumer habits.

After all, consumption is about more than just how you spend your money.

You'll find that with a little practice, your sustainable consumer habits will come to shape you and your family's lifestyle as a whole, transforming the way you cook, clean, and care for your home, amongst many other things.