Let’s add clever shopping habits to our 2016 goals
Where we shop, what we buy or order at a restaurant, and how we cart our purchases around and access stores are mostly determined by convenience instead of the smarter or more responsible choices - choices that either directly or indirectly impact the environment and natural resources.
By convincing retailers of the need for sustainable (and convenient) options on their shelves and menus, demand will be created and build traction.
When it comes to living more sustainably, recognise that consumption plays a vital role. Also, changes in consumer patterns and choices have a ripple effect on supply chains.
When shopping, take the time to look around and don’t be afraid to ask about environmentally friendly, home-grown, biodegradable, energy-efficient or recycled options. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is. Check for eco-labels, where products come from and how they are manufactured. Imported goods generally have a larger carbon footprint. Consider the material it is packaged in and whether it can be recycled. If you’re new to all of this, start by simply using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic and walking, cycling or taking public transport to the nearest store. We need to realise that we have the most influence on retailers and suppliers. It’s the nature of business to give people what they want, so let’s show them what we want.
WWF South Africa’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI), for example, encourages and demonstrates responsible seafood sourcing by calling on shoppers to hold retailers and suppliers to account in sourcing sustainable seafood. The campaign was designed to shift consumer demand from over-exploited species to more sustainable options. It even has an app to make it that much easier. Feel free to download it and experiment: www.sassiapp.co.za.
WWF-SASSI has empowered seafood consumers to hold retailers and restaurants responsible to the sustainable seafood commitments they have made. The three most important questions to ask are: What is the species called? How was it caught or farmed? And where is it from? The answers to these will ensure responsible choices.
WWF-SA works towards building a future where people live in harmony with nature and seeks support from those who wish to be part of ensuring this future.
During the festive season, when unabated consumerism was at its peak, WWF-SA along with co-hosts @IntheOverberg, @GoSocialSA and @ShotLeft, held a #greenXmas Twitter chat, steering discussions around alternative eco-friendly choices that benefit our planet.
The Twittersphere was buzzing with suggestions for alternative eco gifting ideas that are beneficial to environmental conservation along with ideas for nature-based experiences for the festive season.
For special occasions, keep in mind the option of giving gifts that involve the whole family, or eco-friendly gifts that provide an infinite shelf life or inspire others to share their love of the natural world.
Before the next round of jingling tills rings and another silly season, consider how you’d like your shopping experience to be and recognise the influence and power you wield as a consumer.
Here are some helpful shopping tips to consider:
- Buying recycled and second-hand items
- Say no to plastic bags and use material or cotton bags for shopping
- Buy items that have lasting lifespans and try to avoid disposable products
- Repair and sell or give away the things you no longer need; or repair appliances rather than buying new ones
- Re-gifting has become a socially acceptable practice as it is considered a means of recycling unwanted gifts
- For special occasions, buy the gift of an experience, such as an annual Botanical Society (BotSoc) card to gain access to the 10 incredible botanical gardens around the country, or
- A SANParks Wild Card with access to national parks and provincial nature reserves – nature-based experiences to enjoy our country’s amazing outdoor opportunities
- A R250 or R500 WWF-SA Gift Card is a way to gift a donation to someone, a contribution to the vast and immense work of WWF-SA