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Change Your Shopping List, Save the World!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ithaca chapter.

While you may not think about it day to day, the things that you purchase have a huge impact on the environment. Because we don’t see how they are produced, it is easy to take for granted how much material and energy goes into making and distributing our favorite products. Purchasing habits are strongly reflected in your carbon footprint, a calculation indicating how your individual activities affect the environment, so just a few moderate changes can have a significant impact. You can calculate your footprint here, but in the meantime, here are some ways you can shop to save the world! 


Buy Less Meat 

First and foremost, minimizing meat consumption is the most effective way to decrease your global footprint. Not only is meat production one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but it also causes a multitude of other environmental problems from water consumption to deforestation. For example, just one half-pound serving of beef results in 7lbs of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of driving almost 10 miles, and uses 900 gallons of water, which is enough to keep a person hydrated for five years! You don’t necessarily need to go full-vegan to reduce your eco-footprint. Just reducing your meat consumption by a few servings per week will add up and can really make a difference! 


Go Local 

When it comes to buying produce, local is always better.  The farther away your food was grown, the more energy it took to get it to you. The Ithaca Farmer’s Market is a great place nearby to find a wide array of local produce from food and wine to cut flowers. Even if you don’t have a local farmer’s market or the market is closed for the season, you can check labels on the food at the grocery store to find out where it was grown. 


Check Your Cosmetics 

Most beauty products, like makeup or shampoos, contain chemical ingredients that not only could be bad for you, but are really bad for the environment. Very often, these chemicals get flushed down the drain and end up damaging aquatic life and habitats. One major offender, microbeads found in skin care products, was banned in the US in 2016 but many other harmful chemicals are still used frequently. The list of environmental toxins is extensive, but most of these ingredients can be avoided by using organic or eco-friendly products. 


Try Thrifting 

Alongside the various ethical issues surrounding the fashion industry are several environmental concerns. The amount of water needed to grow cotton, chemical dyes, fuels used in distribution, and waste of clothing are just a few reasons you might want to try checking out your local secondhand store. Thrift stores are more than just ugly holiday sweater outlets- you can often find some fashionable pieces you wouldn’t find anywhere else. And thrifting isn’t just for clothes! Furniture, small appliances, décor- basically anything you need to furnish your dorm or apartment can be found secondhand for a much lower cost.  


Buy Refurbished Electronics 

Producing electronics, like laptops or phones, requires an incredible amount of resources and fossil fuels and replacing these devices every few years really adds up. The input/output ratio for a laptop, for example, is 4000 to 1, meaning your 3 pound laptop required 12,000 pounds of raw materials to make! Refurbished electronics reduce the environmental impact of technology by reusing and updating older devices or reselling devices that were returned to the manufacturer and can no longer be considered “new”. These devices function as well as new ones and are often cheaper too! 


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Joanna is a senior Applied Psychology major at Ithaca College from Rochester, NY.