We can’t shop our way to sustainability. Indeed, given the oversized ecological footprint of Canadians, “shop light” is a relevant piece of advice.

Yet, it is not realistically possible for each of us as individuals to make and build and grow all the things that we reasonably need. We do have to buy some things to provision ourselves and our households with at least the basic necessities.

Advertisers are adept at getting us to buy products, throw them away, and buy more. But overconsuming can ruin a household budget and cost the Earth. So what are some guidelines for consuming responsibly?


  • Before making a decision to purchase a product, consider whether you already have something that you can use. Or maybe it is possible to borrow it from someone just while you need it.
  • Rent instead of buying – All kinds of items and equipment are available for rent, including cars, tools, TVs, and more. If you rent just when you need it, the cost will almost certainly be far less than purchasing the item.
  • Buy used – Serviceable items in excellent condition are available at thrift stores and consignment shops. You will save money and extend the useful life of the item.
  • Shop local – Eat fresh food grown by local farmers. Buy products made in your community. Help create jobs and build our local economy by keeping your dollars circulating in Manitoba.
  • Where products are not available from local sources, look for a Fair Trade designation.
  • Steer away from toxic and hazardous materials. Choose environmentally friendly alternatives. For paints and cleaning supplies, check for EcoLogo certification.
  • Look at the whole life of a product when making a purchase decision. Consider the use of resources and the production of waste in manufacturing, transporting, selling, using and disposing of the item. Shopping for unique designer swimwear styles for women can feel daunting but there are some great options. How much do you know about where it was produced and under what conditions?
  • Shop at reputable ‘environment’ stores where you can be confident that items for sale have been evaluated for their environmental impact.
  • Don’t let your stuff own you.
  • Oh yeah … and bring a re-usable shopping bag!

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