First and foremost, buying green means buying less. Environmentally friendly, recycled or recyclable products may sometimes be more expensive to purchase, but they can represent long-term savings. Here are the main points to consider in order to buy more responsibly.
Panier d'épicerie, © Hervé Kerneis
Reducing your purchasing leads to the greatest savings. Indeed, at work and at home, buying green means above all buying less. The golden rule in green procurement is to first ask whether the product you plan to buy is essential. Can you do without it? For example, before buying a calculator that you will use only once in a while, consider the possibility of borrowing a colleague’s, making do with the one on your computer or your smart phone, or using a spreadsheet program such as MS Excel.
If you reach the conclusion that the purchase is justified, the issue becomes slightly more complex.
Local products are generally less polluting, since they have less of a distance to travel than those from the other side of the world. And what’s more, buying locally boosts the local economy. Although often more expensive, they have positive economic spin-offs for the community and are generally more ethical.
Buy a durable product
Overall, durable products represent savings in the medium to long term, even though their initial cost is higher. They continue to serve their original purpose for a long time—sometimes until they become obsolete. They can be virtually indestructible. Here are a few examples: solid wood furniture, a leather binder or a metal ruler.
Buy a reusable product
Reusable products can be reused as-is, or their life can be extended by washing or with replacement parts (bag, mug, ink cartridge, etc.). Even if it doesn’t last forever, a reusable product lasts a lot longer than a disposable one.
Buy a recycled or recyclable product
In the case of products that are recyclable or that contain recycled materials, savings are more long-term. While they sometimes cost a bit more, buying these products reduces waste and the cost of managing this waste. Remember that the easiest waste to manage is the waste that is never generated in the first place. Buying these products ensures sustainability, which will bring future savings.
How do you recognize a green product?
It is important to always keep in mind that the essential ingredient in determining whether a product is really environmentally friendly is not the green sticker applied to it but rather the life cycle assessment of its impact on resources and the environment, from the extraction of its raw materials to its final disposal. Unfortunately, such an analysis including parameters that are representative of our geographical and sociopolitical reality is not always available. In this case, one can rely on products that have been awarded certification recognized by the government of Canada, such as Environmental Choice or Energy Star.