Ways to buy better and shop less

Balance quality and price

A better quality product should last longer and do a better job. It may be made in a more sustainable way – research the company to be sure.

Gift time or an experience

What do you give someone who has enough? Experiences like a massage or concert tickets, or help with cleaning or renovating, make great memories and are better for the environment.

Buy together

Make a syndicate of family, friends or neighbours to buy big items you can share – from a bread maker to tools, a trailer or even a car. Write up an agreement before you buy, so everyone’s clear on the rules for use, storage, repairs, insurance and disposal.

Go pre-loved

Buying second hand means a new item doesn’t have to be created – and neither do the emissions. Check out op shops, tip shops and online marketplaces first.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. 1

    What’s it made of?

    Plant-based products generally require less energy than synthetic-based products. Think wood, paper, cardboard, linen, organic cotton. Items made from recycled materials also take less energy to produce in general, generating fewer emissions. Clothing, shoes, bags and furniture can all be made from recycled plastics like water bottles, fishing nets and carpet.
  2. 2

    How is it made?

    A product made using renewable energy is more climate-friendly than the same item made with energy fuelled by coal, gas or diesel – or in a country that relies mostly on coal. Some carbon-conscious producers are upfront about this on their websites or packaging, but it usually takes research to find out. If you buy the product often, ask the company directly – they need to know what’s important to you.

  3. 3

    What makes it run?

    In New Zealand, around 80% of our electricity is generated from clean, renewable resources such as hydro, geothermal and wind. Choose electric technology over gas, petrol, coal and oil when you can – for heaters, hot water, cars, gardening tools, barbeques and more.
  4. 4

    How efficient is it?

    Factor in efficiency when you look for a new car or appliance. More efficiency means fewer emissions – and more money saved on running costs. Check the energy rating label on appliances, and the vehicles fuel economy label on cars.

    Energy rating labels

    Vehicle emissions and energy economy labels

  5. 5

    How does it get here?

    Packaging and transporting goods and services takes energy. Look for products or services that are transported via low-carbon vehicles like EVs, and use minimal, low-carbon packaging such as cardboard or recycled materials.
  6. 6

    Do I really need it?

    Everything you buy needs energy to be made and produces greenhouse gas as a result. The most sustainable item is the one you never bought – so check-in with your wants and needs before you splurge.

More information