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Shopping At Small Businesses Can Maintain An Eco-Friendly Future!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

You have probably seen so many small shops online especially on Etsy or even in your local area. But did you know that those small businesses can play a big role in managing a better and more sustainable future? That’s why I am going to tell you why shopping at small businesses compared to big corporations can positively impact the environment!

Why is it important to be cautious of Big Companies?

Although it has been normalized to shop at popular companies like Zara, H&M, or IKEA, they are not the most sustainable. In fact, “these fast fashion brands contribute to the massive amounts of textile waste caused by the clothing industry. According to the fashion nonprofit ReMake, 80% of discarded textiles globally are incinerated or landfill-bound, with just 20% being reused or recycled.” This is concerning because incinerating textiles creates more carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming. These companies are also known to “greenwash“; this means the company promotes the idea of having or selling eco-friendly products to their audience. However, due to their textile waste being a major problem to the environment, their greenwashed advertisements are not always truthful. This is important to do deep research on certain companies, especially big ones because they tend to be tricky with their marketing.

It is not only fashion companies that are negatively impacting the environment, there are also energy companies contributing to this problem. “A recently published report identified that 100 energy companies have been responsible for 71% of all industrial emissions since human-driven climate change was officially recognized.” The food industry has also contributed because “the top 15 U.S. food and beverage companies generate nearly 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.” This shows that some major companies in different fields are not being sustainable, and are producing problems for the environment.

Why are small businesses better?

Small businesses are known for producing less waste and energy during production, and for using higher quality materials that last longer than the cheap manufactured ones produced by fast-fashion companies. Therefore, high-quality products can lead to a reduction in textile waste and also produce fewer harmful gases in the atmosphere due to their different process of production. Instead of making their products in a huge factory or sweatshop, most items sold by small businesses are hand-made or created by smaller manufacturers.

Additionally, the location of where the product is made is most important to the environment. Since “local businesses tend to set up shops in pre-existing buildings. This alone will minimize the destructive behavior of digging up land for construction. Larger enterprises and organizations frequently have infrastructure created for them, resulting in less green space in society and more dangerous materials.” This is very encouraging for people who want to start their own business because they can do so from their own homes, and do not have to create new buildings or factories for their products.

Overall, “Small businesses and independent entrepreneurs are making the biggest impact in reducing the carbon footprint of business.” Although it is hard to stray away from the big companies, buying from small businesses from time to time can still make a difference especially if many people do it. There are environmental benefits to doing this, but it can also support the sellers and create more jobs for people who have a passion they want to share. So I recommend looking into more small businesses as it can not only help the people, but most importantly; the environment!

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Amanda Chung

U Mass Amherst '26

Hi! I’m a member of UMass Amherst’s HC, and I’m just spreading my ideas and having fun! :)