Written by: Atlantic Region Green Lane - Environment Canada
- Don't buy more than you really need.
It costs more and only ends up in the garbage.
- Buy products that will last.
Look for durable multi- use products instead of single- use disposable products. By buying durable goods you'll reduce waste and save yourself time and aggravation.
- Look for products bearing the EcoLogo.
The federal government endorses products that are less environmentally damaging, as certified by the Environmental Choice Program. Each dove represents a sector of society consumers, industry, and government linked together to improve and protect the environment. The logo identifies products that minimize the use of environmentally hazardous substances, and maximize energy efficiency and the use of recycled materials.
- Refrain from buying over- packaged products.
About one-third of a household's garbage is packaging of one sort or another. Buy unpackaged bulk goods where possible. For products that you use frequently, buy larger size packages rather than individually wrapped portions. Let companies know how you feel about over- packaged products. Many companies print a toll- free 1- 800 customer service number on their products just so they can hear from you. Call them, write a letter, or talk to the manager of the store. Encourage them to reduce unnecessary packaging and waste.
- Buy products that are made out of post- consumer recycled and recyclable material.
This will encourage manufacturers to make more of their products out of recycled material, thereby decreasing their need for raw natural resources.
- Take your own bags or containers when you go shopping.
Remember, 'Reduce' is the first R.
- Buy products in returnable containers.
A glass bottle can be used more than 20 times before it is made into a new bottle. Reusable bottles conserve resources, reduce demand on landfill sites, and reduce litter. Don't forget to return returnable containers to the store!
- Buy locally produced or grown items from local stores and businesses.
Local products can be regulated to reduce the amount of garbage generated, and don't require the transportation energy of imported products.
- Buy recycled paper.
Recycling can save trees. Make sure that the recycled material is "post-consumer" and not just scraps from the production floor!
- Buy only those environmentally hazardous products that you really need, and buy them in quantities that you will be able to completely use up.
This way you won't have to worry about disposing of them later on.
- Buy the least toxic cleaning products possible.
Buy phosphate- free detergents, and avoid using bleaches and commercial fabric softeners.
- Buy rechargeable batteries.
They're better for the environment and your pocketbook. Batteries contain hazardous substances and must be disposed of properly.
A single rechargeable battery can be recharged as often as 500 times.
- Buy water- based, rather than oil- based paint.
Water- based paints contain fewer dangerous chemicals than solvent- based paints. Their clean- up is much easier, and does not need thinners that can harm people and the environment.
- Avoid buying aerosol- propelled products.
Due to the plastic and metal construction used in packaging these products, the containers are non- recyclable. Also, most contain one- third propellant, so are a poor economic choice.
- Avoid six- pack rings.
The plastic rings which hold six-packs together can get caught around the necks of small animals and birds. If you do buy six- packs, dispose of the rings carefully by returning them where possible, or cutting apart all the rings before placing in the garbage. Other everyday items that pose a threat to wildlife if not disposed of properly include helium balloons and ring- tab openers, both of which can kill if ingested.
- Avoid buying items made of exotic hardwoods.
Tropical hardwoods such as teak, mahogany, rosewood, and ebony grow in tropical rainforests the richest habitats in the world but also the fastest disappearing. Harvesting these valuable hardwoods is destroying this rich ecosystem.
- Don't buy products made from endangered species.
It is illegal to import these products into Canada. If you are planning to travel abroad, call CITES the Convention International Trade in Endangered Species for more information on what not to buy. The telephone number is (613) 997- 1840.
- Choose a photo finishing company that uses a "closed-loop" system.
Many photo finishers have installed equipment that recycles and reuses the chemicals used in the process of photo development and printing, so that they are not discarded into our water. Until the process becomes universal, companies will be promoting that they have it in place. You can support this major industry environmental initiative by patronizing the companies that have closed- loop systems.
- Buy "dolphin- safe" tuna.
Some suppliers now provide "dolphin- safe" tuna, meaning tuna caught without killing any dolphins in the process. Check the label on the can.
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