Eco-friendly ways to shop

We joke about how the Philippines feels like it’s right smack in the sun with the high temperatures we’re experiencing, but sweltering summers, destructive typhoons, and other extreme weather conditions are starting to become the norm in recent decades. The devastating effects of climate change on global temperatures and weather patterns have shown serious consequences, with the Philippines being one of the most vulnerable countries

While more than half of the global emissions can be traced to big coal, oil, and petroleum companies (which ought to bear the brunt of the responsibility), a lot of us still want to do our part. We bring our own reusable water bottles and metal straws so we don’t add any further to the plastic pollution. We bike and walk if we’re going somewhere nearby. We keep the AC at 25-degrees so it doesn’t consume so much energy. When it comes to shopping, it doesn’t hurt to be a mindful shopper, particularly in terms of how our spending and consumption affect the environment. Here are a few eco-friendly ways to shop.


Buy local

When you purchase items manufactured locally, it often means it didn’t have to travel long distances to reach that grocery aisle or store shelf. So yes, a locally woven laptop sleeve, for example, is typically more eco-friendly than a laptop sleeve made in China and shipped or flown all the way here. The environmental impact is often lower for locally-made goods. (Not to mention the fact that local businesses can affect positive change in their own communities, think Habi or Cut the Scrap

Buy small

Small, local businesses often have smaller carbon footprint than their big chain counterparts. Since they’re smaller, they usually use up fewer resources, emit less emissions if they source supplies locally, and produce less waste. (Shopping small also has other benefits beyond being good for the environment.) 

It’s also good to check which small makers and businesses have green practices. Krete Manila, who sell home decor made of concrete, have a zero-waste initiative. From the colored concrete scraps left during production, they tried to think of ways to still use them and came up with a “confetti-finish” coaster set. 

Use reusable bags

Whether you’re heading to the supermarket, palengke, or a favorite little store, bringing your own bag ought to be second nature these days. Millions of plastic bags end up in landfills and in our oceans. According to marine research, plastic makes up 80% of all marine pollution and by 2050, it will likely outweigh all fish in the sea. That’s a lot of plastic that’s not fully degrading but turning into microplastics, and being ingested by marine life. And who eats those marine life, us folks on top of the food chain. 

Bringing your own tote bags or reusable bags means less plastic getting out there. And if you have more plastic bags at home that you can’t reuse or recycle, Common Room stores accept shopping plastic wastes and even old paper bags that they turn over to Green Trident Services, a waste management company that transforms the plastic trash into plyboards, an eco-friendlier alternative to plywood.


Buy reused or thrifted items

You don’t have to let one man’s trash (or in the case of fast fashion, millions of clothes) all end up in the landfill. According to environmental news website,, 92 million tons of textile waste gets dumped each year. That’s about a garbage truck of clothes every second. To even make new clothes, it reports that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global waste water.

While never buying new clothes ever again might be a stretch for many, thrifting or shopping for secondhand clothes is a good way to find a ‘new’ piece of clothing. As Jodinand Aguillon says “At the end of the day, one article of clothing that we’re taking and putting back into circulation that is not in the landfills, is a win for everybody.” The creative genius behind Glorious Dias shares with us tips on finding vintage pieces in this ukay-ukay how-to video

Plan your online shopping

While shopping online can produce more waste because of the shipping and packaging it entails, there are ways to keep it green. You can plan your orders to keep it to once a week, at most. Purchase items in bulk if you know you’ll need them again once they’re used up. Opting not to make many small purchases means less shipments, and ideally, less impact on the environment. 

We’re used to seeing how climate change and other urgent environmental issues take the spotlight in April when Earth Day happens (and then in June when the UN’s World Environment Day is celebrated, or during the entire month of November for the country’s Environmental Awareness month). But making mindful shopping decisions is a habit we can all practice beyond a day when we celebrate the planet we all call home.