How to shop sustainably from home

How can we continue being mindful about our carbon footprint when the global lockdown eases?

Make sustainable shopping choices from home. Image credit: iStock
Make sustainable shopping choices from home. Image credit: iStock

With more than a billion people now in self-isolation, the impact of reduced mobility has been devastating for the economy, but noticeably positive for the environment.  

The knock-on effect of the global shutdown has allowed air quality to improve, canals to clear, and wildlife to return in many parts of the world. New Delhi’s astounded citizens declared the reduced pollution “positively alpine!” and the infamous smog which lingers over LA’s skyline is visibly clearer, with an air quality rating at its lowest since 1995.

While climate change might feel like last year’s calamity, the visible slow down in climate change shows us, quite plainly, how actions on a local level can have a huge impact. We now have an opportunity to take these actions forward into a post-coronavirus world.

Shop local

While grocery stores are seeing a huge spike as we rush to line up six feet apart for another bag of flour, it’s worth checking what independent stores are open near you. Independent grocery stores, family-owned bodegas, butchers, fishmongers; if they’re open and trading, these smaller stores provide delicious and unique alternatives to supermarkets and big-brand grocery stores and are well worth investing in.

Independent businesses are set to bear the economic brunt of the global shutdown, so supporting those that champion organic and local produce not only helps those businesses survive, but contributes to an economy which supports further sustainable industries.

Support independent businesses

Was there that bubble tea place you always wanted to try? The local vegan grill you always walked past and thought “we should go there sometime,” but never did? Well, now is the time. 

Shop with brands that share the same values as yourself. Image credit: iStock
Shop with local brands that share the same values as yourself. Image credit: iStock

Under lockdown, many small businesses are feeling the pressure of economic uncertainty more than anyone. Now is the time to support them if you can. A lot of independent businesses are providing delivery services, and if you have the change to spare, your local cafe could definitely use the support.

Be mindful when ordering online

With non-essential stores closed for the time being, the rush to order our non-essential needs online has caused a bit of a moral panic when it comes to marrying our support of key workers with the need to stay safe. With the click of a button we can order just about anything to our front doors, but the question is, should we? 

To keep online shopping as mindful as possible, we can ask ourselves whether or not the site we are buying from needs the business and whether their practices align with our own values. Why not cut out the middleman and order directly from the store? Think about the businesses you most want to support and try to order in bulk where possible. And most importantly, don’t forget to tip your delivery driver.  

Get into leftovers

Using leftovers or growing your own produce can help to make you more sustainable in your home. Image credit: iStock
Using leftovers or growing your own produce can help to make your home a more sustainable place. Image credit: iStock

With less freedom to hit the stores for your favorite snack, many of us have had to get a little more creative when it comes to cooking. Food waste is an enormous contributor to climate change, but with restaurants shut and some stores selling out of the basics, we have had to become a little more creative when it comes to cooking meals for ourselves. By prepping meals in advance we can reduce the amount we throw away, as well as making use of those back-of-the-cupboard items.


Emily Browne

Born and raised in London, Emily is a content creator and copywriter based in Berlin.