Shopping Gen Less
If you reduce the total weight of products you buy, you're highly likely to reduce your carbon footprint.
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.
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.
What size is your footprint?
The average New Zealander’s carbon footprint is around 8.6 tonnes a year. Three quarters of it is generated as we consume goods and services. The World Health Organisation calls for a target limit of approximately 2 tonnes per person per year. Find out how you’re doing – and what you could do better – with a carbon footprint calculator.
Carbon questions to ask yourself
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.
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.
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.
How efficient is it?
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.
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.