Sustainable & Zero Waste Shopping

The more I have learned about climate change, the more I have tried to lessen my impact on the environment. For example, when I go grocery shopping, I bring my own bags including small bags for the fruits and vegetables. I shop at my local farm when they are open from April to December, I make my own laundry detergent (recipe by Wellness Mama) and face oil (recipe at the end of this post), and I store my leftovers in recycled glass jars. There is a lot more I can do, but I believe that every effort makes a difference. When I teach climate change to college students, I provide tips that the students can consider adding to their routines. After one of my lectures, a student asked, “What difference can one person make?”. I think the quote I found on Tiny Yellow Bungalow’s Instagram feed (a shop discussed in this post) answers this question well.

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the word.” ~ Howard Zinn

In my attempt to do more for the environment, I have become mindful of the stores I shop at. I look at how they make their products and how they ship them. Below is a list of stores and brands I have bought from that fit the bill in terms of creating or selling sustainable products and producing little to no waste.

House and Beauty Supplies:

  1. Package Free Shop – They sell products for the kitchen, office, babies and animals, as well as cleaning supplies. The owner, Lauren Singer vets every product in her Brooklyn store, as well as her online shop, so you can be sure the products are eco-friendly. The website also has information on each product including a description, what its packaging is made of, the ingredients/materials, and how to dispose of it (a lot are compostable). An added benefit is that the products are shipped in boxes that are compostable, so I never feel guilty about ordering one or two things.
  2. Tiny Yellow Bungalow – An online store run by Jessie Stokes. Like Package Free Shop, Jesse researches all of the products and sells beauty and kitchen supplies and products for babies and children that are sustainable. She additionally searches for vintage treasures in her hometown that you can buy on her website as well as her vegan cookbook (her recipes look yummy on her Instagram).

Clothes/Shoes:

  1. Pact ApparelThey sell clothes for men, women, children, and babies that are made from 100% organic cotton. They do not use toxic dyes or pesticides. Plus, their cotton is Fair Trade Factory Certified. Fair-Trade ensures that the farms and factories in developing countries are provided a fair price allowing for better working conditions and pay for employees.
  2. Patagonia – I have two coats and one long sleeve shirt from Patagonia and they are great. In addition to making products that last so you need to purchase items less often (one of my coats is over 10 years old), they are mindful of the materials they use and how they make them. If your item is damaged, Patagonia will repair it for you. After it has lived a long and good life, you can send the item back to them and they will recycle or repurpose it. Additionally, according to their CEO Rose Marcario, Patagonia donated the $10 million dollars they received from tax cuts to “groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis”.
  3. Rag and Bone – They hire local and skilled workers and make their clothes in the USA, specifically in Los Angeles and some in New York City. Furthermore, through The Denim Recycling Project, they take your old denim and recycle it so it can be made into denim insulation.

A little about denim insulation – We added some to one area in our house that needed its insulation replaced after I learned that Bill Nye, The Science Guy, uses it in his house. Some of the benefits of denim insulation are that it is sustainable (made from 85% recycled materials so less denim enters the landfill), eco-friendly (it uses less energy to be produced than fiberglass insulation), contains no volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde, has a good R value (thermal resistance) which decreases energy costs, and mice are less likely to chew through it than fiberglass insulation.

  1. Rothy’s – It is upsetting that there are so many plastic water bottles out there that end up in landfills and the ocean, but Rothy’s collects and uses them to make cute shoes instead. I have a pair of The Point in black, which I love. The uppers are made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles, the insoles are made from recycled shoes, and the sole is carbon free. Additionally, their shoes are shipped in just the shoe box, reducing the need for a second shipping box. The box which is vegan and biodegradable can be reused or recycled.
  2. AllBirds – Their shoes are made out of wool or trees. The wool is obtained from New Zealand organizations that have strong guidelines for farming, land management, and how the animals are treated. The tree fiber originates from trees watered via rainfall using 95% less water than typical materials. The insoles are made from castor bean oil, laces from recycled plastic bottles, and the sole is sourced from sugarcane. The sugarcane is a renewable resource and also watered by rainfall. Furthermore, the shoes are shipped in only one 90% post-consumer recycled cardboard shoe box, so like Rothy’s they reduce waste when shipping. I have the Tree Runners in tangerine and wear them all time.

Note: A nice bonus of both Rothy’s and Allbirds is that their shoes are machine washable.

Home Textiles:

  1. Pact Apparel now sells sheets. I have not bought them, but they sent me a sample of their favorite tee sheet set and it was very soft. They use the same principles for their sheets as they do for their clothing.
  2. Coyuchi – They make beautiful sheets, blankets, and more. They are on the expensive side, but they have sales and you can sign up for a new customer discount. They have Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Fair-Trade Certifications. GOTS means that a company does not use toxic elements such as bleaches, dyes, or formaldehyde, produces materials with at least 95% organic fiber, and adheres to high environmental standards. Plus, they are members of 1% For the Planet, which provides funds for nonprofit environmental groups. One suggestion I have for them is to make their packaging more sustainable.

I am always looking for additional eco-friendly stores. If you have any recommendations, please add them to the comment section.

Recipe for my face oil: In a 2-ounce glass bottle add ¾ of sweet almond oil, ¼ rosehip oil, and 30 drops of lavender essential oil.

Photo by Laura Mitulla on Unsplash

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