Reducing your carbon footprint can seem like an overwhelming task. And you may be asking yourself the question. “What difference can one person make?” We will address that later on, but one thing that helps me when I have an overwhelming task in front of me is to chip away at it bit by bit until it seems more manageable. It especially helps to start with something you are familiar with, no matter how small. At Hand and Hide we are intimately acquainted with the workings of manufacturers and company waste so this seemed like a good place to start. Here are some tips for reducing your carbon footprint by shopping smaller.
Reduce Company Waste
Most local makers only produce goods on made-to-order or small batch system, especially the up and coming ones who don’t operate on a large scale. In fact, here at Hand and Hide, we only make our phone wallets and leather travel goods to order. If there isn’t a demand for it then we don’t make it. Many other small makers we know also make-to-order or make their items in small batches.
Supporting businesses that create small amounts of their product makes your treasured possessions more unique and reduces the need for grotesquely extraneous amounts of goods sitting and gathering dust in massive warehouses. Have you ever seen the warehouse behind a Target, Walmart or Macy’s? Take the number of goods you see in the store and then multiply that by about 10 to get the amount of goods in the warehouse. Then multiply that by the number of stores in your town or city. That’s a lot of arguably useless junk from cheap manufacturers taking up massive amounts of space and energy in these stores.
On top of that, it may make you cry when you learn what these types of companies do with their unsold merchandise. Check out the article from the Marketplace.org to learn more about how landfills are filling with unwanted merchandise every year. By shopping small you can do your part to reduce the massive waste our consumerist values are helping to create.
Shop by Bike.
Buying local eliminates the need for your purchase to be loaded onto a long haul semi-truck or an airplane which uses massive amounts of fossil fuel every day. In fact, here in Portland, there are several shopping districts that feature a wide variety of goods from local makers. Ride your bike to the Hawthorne, Division or Mississippi neighborhoods and then spend the day walking around checking out all the local goods your city has to offer. Take a look at the facts provided by theU.S. Energy Information Administration to learn more about which sectors are using the most energy and fossil fuels.
- Limit the Use of Plastics
Small makers often don’t have the resources needed to shrink wrap their goods or package their items in horrible plastic cases. They also tend to be more intentional and conscientious about the packaging they use. Many small makers will talk about their values on their website so look ahead of time to see what your local makers are doing to reduce their impact on the planet. Whether that be through donations to environmental groups, recyclable packaging or reduced carbon emissions in the workplace. We are currently working on a new packaging design that will focus more on paper and less on plastics like bubble wrap. We can’t wait to get the new packaging out the door!
- Buy Better, Buy Less
Locally made goods are often made with more care and attention to detail as well as with better materials than mass-produced goods. For instance, we offer lifetime warranties and repairs on our handmade leather goods to ensure that your product can either be fixed or replaced. This helps you buy less over time because you aren’t constantly replacing broken or poorly designed goods. If you buy a leather phone wallet that is mass produced in China, for example, you may have saved yourself a chunk of money to begin with but you would spend less over time if you bought something made to last forever in the first place. Consume better, less often.
- Help your Local Economy and Reduce the Use of Fossil Fuels by Commuters
Lastly, you are contributing to your local economy and keeping your neighbors and community employed by supporting local makers and shops. That could mean less use of fossils fuels by individuals who might otherwise have a long commute into other communities to find work. And shopping local keeps you engaged and connected to your community and the people shaping it. We know that we are built for connection and a good interaction with people helps make us all happier. That is why we love it when people stop by our studio for a friendly chat and casual tour. Hope to see you around sometime!
So there you have it! Although reducing our impact on the earth is a big topic you already have a few ways you can be more mindful about the way you shop and how that feeds back into the world. And, I think that if we really reflect on it, we know that our lives do make a difference and create an impact in one direction or another. We cannot change the world on our own. We need each other to do that! But we can spark a change, we can be the first to stand up for what we believe in and live it. Take these changes one step at a time and believe in your ability to make a difference. If you need more inspiration take a look at the bold words from leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and JFK. All people who believed in the power of the individual and lived that belief out in their own lives.
Thanks for reading and good luck!
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