European Consumer Centre

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How to behave sustainably as a consumer

To reduce their footprint on the environment, consumers can, for example, buy local food, pick up online ordered goods in stores or dispensaries, choose to repair rather than exchange claimed goods, rather borrow than buy some items, and take their own shopping bags, bottles and soaps when travelling. These tips on how to act sustainably as shoppers and passengers are provided by the European Consumer Centres Network, which has assisted consumers in the single market already for 15 years.

“European consumers are increasingly aware of their environmental footprint, thinking not only about the price when shopping, but more often also about the impact of their decisions on nature,” says Ondřej Tichota from the European Consumer Centre of the Czech Republic. This is confirmed by the latest surveys by the European Commission, who operates the ECC-Net together with the EU Member States, the UK, Norway and Iceland.

Claim: more sustainable is repair than replacing things

“As for shopping, our network has the motto ‘Consume less, choose well’,” says Ondřej Tichota. “Many people already search for food producers as close as possible to their place of residence or in their country, so that food doesn’t have to travel thousands of kilometres to them. When buying, they can come across a range of local food sometimes of organic quality and, thus, support the local economy. It is ideal to carry your own bags for pastries, fruit and for the whole purchase.”

People can reduce their environmental footprint by choosing energy-saving household appliances or bulbs. Greener is also to borrow things than necessarily buy them, e.g. a special occasion dress or special tools. Similarly, when claiming goods, it is more sustainable to have the product repaired than to require an exchange for a new item.

When buying online, personal takeover is more environmentally friendly. “Ordering more pieces of goods over the Internet just to test them, already with the intention to return almost everything anyway, also causes unnecessary emissions due to transport and other waste,” says Tichota.

The change starts with yourself

The motto for travelling says: Travel more and waste less. Environmentally and financially, it is worth taking “sustainable” things with you: a box with soap, your own bag, a water bottle and so on. There is no need to print any boarding pass for an aircraft, train or bus, but a digital one can be used. You can also take a bus or train instead of domestic flights.

“So many things in life are a matter of choice. Whenever we want the world to change, it is best to start with ourselves. And the carbon footprint can also be reduced by supporting environmental projects,” Ondřej Tichota concludes the recommendations of the ECC-Net.