Buy green

How can I choose more environmentally friendly products?

When you want to buy something new and you’re sure you really need it, buy sustainable. Buying green means choosing products that cause less damage to the environment and human health at all stages of their life including raw material extraction, production, use and disposal.

Sustainable (or ‘green’) products include:

  • recycled content products
  • greenhouse friendly products: products that save energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gases, when compared to a similar product
  • certified green power, and
  • products that help save water when compared to a similar product, which are non-toxic or otherwise “green.”

Visit the Ethical Consumer Guide for information on green and socially responsible purchasing.

Consider the lifecycle of the products you buy

Every product you buy has a lifecycle made up of the following stages:

  • raw material extraction
  • manufacturing
  • transportation
  • packaging
  • use, and
  • end of life disposal.

This traditional product life cycle is sometimes referred to as “cradle to grave”, with the grave often being landfill. There is a growing interest in recycling used items or materials into new products. This is sometimes referred to as a “cradle to cradle” product life cycle, or a “circular economy” model of more sustainable resource management.

Each stage of a product's lifecycle has a number of inputs including raw materials, energy and water, as well as outputs including waste, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. The inputs and outputs at each stage can be identified, measured and assessed for their environmental impacts. Understanding these impacts can help to make changes to reduce the impacts that occur across the life of a product.

When choosing a product, it is important to consider the entire lifecycle of that product. What materials were mined to produce it? Where were they mined? Where was it assembled and how far has it travelled? How was it packaged? How long will it last? Was it designed to be repaired or disposed of? Can it be recycled onshore when it reaches the end of its useful life?

Visit The Story of Stuff to find out more and for online resources that expose the hidden environmental impacts of everyday items by exploring these lifecycle questions.

Find out about other waste reducing actions you can take as a resident or worker in Merri-bek. Visit the Zero Carbon Merri-bek website for more.