Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Energy Saving Week – Greener Shopping

Shopping hides all manner of CO2 emitting sins. As a girl who loves shopping, Katharine Robinson is always looking for ways to make her favourite pass time a little greener. All this week she has been looking at various ways to reduce your CO2 emissions as part of a series for The Energy Saving Trust’s Energy Saving Week, running from October 20th – 26th.


Everything we buy has to get from raw material to our doors one way or another. Whether it’s bananas coming from the West Indies, a turkey coming from a farm in Norfolk, or your t-shirt that was made in Bangladesh, green house gases are probably emitted somewhere along the line.

It’s not just transporting the turkey either. It’s the food it has eaten, the miles driven by the farmer in maintaining his farm and the power used to light barns and run slaughter houses too. At every stage of production, our food and all other consumer goods use up more energy.

How can we reduce our carbon shopping print?


Farm Shops and Farmers Markets are great places to find locally produced food. Finding locally produced food in your area isn’t all that hard, Big Barn lets you look at local producers in your area from Farmers’ Markets and Pick-Your-Own to Restaurants and Bakeries.

There are some clothes manufacturers based in Britain, a quick search on the internet soon turned up Frank & Faith, a Dorset based, socially conscious clothing label launched in 2006. So if you are determined to make your fashion as guilt-free as you can, it is possible.


Looking for food that is in season now will help you not only stay local but also ensure that you are not eating fruit and vegetables that have been kept in an energy-guzzling cold store for months. There is also the option of growing our own too of course.

For example, main crop potatoes, apples, most traditional game birds and sea bass are all in season right now.

Photo by Maigi

Seasonal food can also be cheaper as we do not have to pay a premium due to scarcity or for the higher transportation cost of bringing the food from abroad.

Seasonal food is also fresher and so tastes better and is better for us.

Second Hand:

This option doesn’t really work for food! Clothes, Consumer electronics and just about everything else we bring into our homes can be found pre-owned somewhere.

Charity shops are a great way of reducing waste and green house gas emissions as well as helping a good cause at the same time.

eBay can be great for making yourself a little extra cash and also picking up something you want, like a CD or a book for a fraction of the price and saving the carbon-heavy production of a new one. I would recommend caution though and always check the feedback a seller has received before purchasing. It’s also worth checking how far an item will have to travel to get to you. eBay offers you the option to search for items locally, use this and you might be able to get on your bike and collect your new purchase.

Second hand shops still exist in most towns, especially for the likes of computer or video games and consoles. Check out this second hand shop directory for more ideas than you thought possible.

Online Shopping:

If you prefer to get everything from one place, all the big supermarkets offer a shop online service. If you can manage to get your head around one large weekly shop and order it online, you could save yourself time, money and green house gas emissions.

Online shopping means your goods get to you, and several other households, from the shop in just one van. If you can get everything at once it will also save you lots of little trips. Most retailers also offer schemes that cut down on plastic bag waste, either by delivering your shopping without bags or taking away your old ones to be recycled.


Perhaps consider making this Christmas a green Christmas? I plan to make all my gifts eco-friendly in some way. Perhaps I could blog about it and let you know how it goes...

If you have any other Green shopping advice that you can add to this post, please leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post..!! Online shopping is really good for environment. It saves a lot of energy. It saves gas and reduces air pollution.