Look into your favorite companies’ sustainability policies

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Updated on October 25, 2019

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Many products we buy come from multinational companies, most of which release information on their environmental footprint, as well as information on how they’re working with communities to address social issues. Although it can be tricky to gauge if efforts are “good enough” or how they compare to other companies, it’s important to see which companies are taking the initiative to clean up their practices. Keep an eye out for companies that are integrating sustainability into the way they operate through sustainable purchasing policies, reducing packaging, and working to ensure their workers receive a living wage and have adequate working conditions. Other resources available for you to get familiar with companies’ efforts to green their supply chains include Greenpeace’s “Detox Catwalk” and the Ethical Consumer’s guide to ethical shopping. The industry that makes the products we enjoy is weighed down by negative environmental and social impacts, and it’ll take more than a few companies and time to change this. By expressing interest in what companies are doing, demanding more transparency, and pushing for more sustainability, we can signal to these companies that these issues are important to us and support the shift.

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If you see restaurants, stores, or other types of companies that are incorporating sustainability, consider choosing these options and make your support for sustainability known. It encourages other businesses to become sustainable as well. You may also come across a nonprofit or community organization that you believe is doing valuable work. Why not donate or reach out to see how you can support their efforts? You can consider volunteering, even if it’s only for one day, to give back to the local area you’re visiting.

Carry and use washable, reusable utensils when possible.

Many airlines are now offering passengers the option to purchase carbon offsets when booking a flight, which means you can pay extra to fund a project that reduces GHG emissions, “neutralizing” your flight. Carbon offset projects include supporting forest conservation in California, capturing GHG emissions from landfills in South Carolina, or renewable energy in Texas. Airlines are also taking measures to reduce their own environmental impact such as making planes and fleets more energy efficient and looking for alternative sources of energy.

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Using reusable bags (cloth, paper, or plastic) or hand-carrying items (if you’re only picking up a few things) both are ways to cut down on plastic waste. Many cities have banned plastic bags altogether, and some stores now charge for bags that just a few years ago were free. Even if your city hasn’t made the move on plastic bags yet, you can take matters into your own hands by remembering your reusable bags.

We tend to make too much food for parties. This is especially true during the holidays since it’s usually part of the holiday culture to make sure everyone has all the food and beverage they can handle, and then some. This excess is ultimately bad for the environment. However, tracking your RSVPs closely and keeping a headcount should help you avoid making this classic mistake that ultimately contributes to food waste. Of course, some extra food is not disastrous (everyone loves leftovers), but it is something to be mindful of.

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