These small steps can make a big difference to the environment

Article by Sarah Dotimas

The concept of being a conscious consumer may seem pretty straightforward, but it can be confusing.There are many ways to do it. I’m that kind of conscious consumer who tries her darndest to be mindful of environmental impacts when purchasing products and services. 

This practice includes doing some research before I make a purchase. Impulse shopping rarely happens because I already know what I need to buy. It may sound like too much work, but it gets easier over time. 

For decades we have been encouraged to practice the 3Rs: Reuse, reduce, and recycle. With the amount of items we purchase on a global scale, recycling is not the best strategy to combat waste. Instead, I say let’s focus more on reducing our waste and reusing what we already have. 

Buy a water bottle instead of buying bottled water. | Pixabay

Let’s talk about straws for a moment, shall we? Straws make drinking beverages more fun, right? Well, in North America we use over 500 million straws daily. That’s a lot of plastic straws. 

I have made a conscious choice not to buy or use plastic straws. Paper ones are better, but I’d rather use ones made of steel, glass, or bamboo because straws made of those materials will last longer and be more sustainable. Sometimes it’s tricky, though, like when your diligent server brings your guava margarita with a small plastic straw already in it. Rats! Next time I’ll be more proactive and ask what kind of straws they use. How do you drink a margarita without a straw? Are there even small eco-friendly straws for margaritas? Hmmm. I can Ecosia it. 

For those unfamiliar with Ecosia, it’s the search engine I use. They use their ad revenue from people’s searches to plant trees where they are needed the most. You need to make about 45 searches to plant a tree. 

Sarah Dotimas is careful about what she buys so that she can re-use rather than having to recycle. | Sarah Dotimas

This past September I was a guest on the podcast show Running with the Krinelles and they asked me what a potential listener could do to make practical changes to support the environment. I gave them a short and simple list. Here it is:

Invest in a water bottle. If you have access to clean water, don’t buy bottled water.

Use reusable bags when shopping.  

Invest in a traveler’s mug. I bought mine from The Carrot Coffeehouse. 

Avoid over-packaging when shopping. Buy bulk when you can and bring your own containers.

Buy and support reuse. You can do this by buying or swapping used items or even by getting books from free libraries. If your community doesn’t have one, start one. Or, borrow books from the Edmonton Public Library. If you prefer to buy books, the Bissell Thrift Shop on Alberta Avenue has some pretty cool finds. 

Support local small businesses. Edmonton has so many. I’m sure we all have our favourites. Let me know which are yours. 

How does my list sound to you? Simple, eh? If you cannot commit to everything on this list, that’s okay. The important thing to remember is that small and simple steps can make a difference even though it may not feel like it at times. Let me know how you practice being a conscious consumer!

Featured Image: Use cloth bags for grocery shopping. | Pixabay