HomeReduce & ReuseSustainable Shopping Tips

Sustainable Shopping Tips


  • Buy in bulk: Large, “family size” containers require less packaging per pound than small, “single serving” packages. In addition to conserving resources, buying in bulk will also generally save you money!
  • Look for items with little or no packaging: Many items come in a variety of packaging styles. Choose unpackaged items and concentrates whenever possible.
  • Buy durable products: You may spend a little more to purchase good quality products, but you won’t need to replace them as often.


  • Buy reusable products: Disposable products generate more waste than reusable products. Disposables often cost more in the long run! Look for reusable cameras, razors, and lunch bags, cloth diapers, cloth napkins and towels, rechargable batteries, and returnable beverage bottles.
  • Reuse containers: Rinsed out glass and plastic containers make great storage containers for leftovers, hardware, etc.
  • Reuse bags: Whether cloth, plastic, or paper, reuse grocery bags when you shop. Try keeping a stash in your car so you will always be prepared. Also try reusing produce bags.


  • Buy products or packages made from recycled materials: Many recycled paper products are currently on the market, including toilet tissue, paper towels, and writing paper. Some products are packaged in containers made with recycled content. Read product labels! Purchasing recycled content products helps support the recycling industry by providing a demand for the materials we place in our recycling bins.
  • Buy recyclable packaging: Many products are offered in a variety of packaging styles. Packaging made from multiple materials are not recyclable. An example is a cookie or oatmeal container made of cardboard attached to a plastic or metal bottom and top. Whenever possible, choose packaging made from a single type of material that is accepted for recycling.

Minimize Hazards

  • Read product labels: Look for key words such as Poison! Danger! Warning! and Caution! Choose products with the lowest hazard (“Caution!” is less hazardous than “Poison!”) or with no hazard at all.
  • Buy safe alternatives: Salt, vinegar, lemon juice, washing soda, baking powder, and wood soap are some of the more common ingredients in many recipes for non-toxic cleaning.

Give Feedback

  • Talk to store managers: Sometimes your choices are limited by what the store has to offer. Encourage the store managers to stock products that you want to buy.
  • Write a letter or call the manufacturer: Whether you’re pleased or upset, manufacturers want to know what consumers think about their products and packaging. Be specific and make suggestions for improvement.
  • Target public officials: Write to legislators about issues you’d like to see changed.
    • Senators: U.S. Senate; Washington D.C. 20510
    • House of Representatives: U.S. House of Representatives, Washington D.C. 20500

The names and addresses of state and local officials can easily be found online or at your local public library.