Make a difference through your spending
Like it or not, we all impact the world around us with our daily actions and decisions. The lifestyle and consumption choices that have become the norm in rich western nations take a heavy toll on the climate and nature. At Shop for Climate Change, we hope to play a part in lowering this impact and encouraging choices that can make a positive difference to our planet. However, we’d also rather try to effect change by working imperfectly through our existing systems than stand on the sidelines judging but taking no action.
We recognise the challenges with setting up a climate-focused business around shopping. The last thing we want to do is encourage more consumption – over-consumption is a big driver of the mess we’re currently in. Put simply, we all need to buy less stuff. However, we also recognise that buying goods and services is an essential part of living and that within everyone’s purchases is an enormous amount of financial and political power. We hope to harness this power and encourage people to make choices that make a positive difference to the wellbeing of our planet.
That’s why we took the decision to become a social enterprise and commit to giving the majority of our profits towards funding climate solutions. Part of this is our commitment to plant trees with every purchase at no extra cost to you, as well as offering you the chance to donate some or all of your cashback earnings towards planting more trees. But we also want to help by making it easy to go beyond tree planting and giving you the information you need to make informed and conscious choices about your shopping. No judgement here – we realise that every decision needs to balance many factors, not least affordability. But we believe it is possible to shop for good value aligned to good values which positively impact the world.
We all need to buy things – from the food we eat and clothes we wear, to the way we travel around and the utilities we need to run our households. We use financial products to make our lives easier and protect ourselves and our loved ones. And we like to show our love or appreciation for others by buying gifts, or even occasionally treating ourselves. All of these things make an impact through the lifecycle of the product as it’s being made, when it’s being used and where it ends up after its useful life is over. Even services and other intangible products have a carbon and ecological footprint based on the resources used to deliver them.
Understanding these impacts and making good choices based on this can be incredibly hard. We’ll be posting lots of content to help with this. Look out for accreditations that brands hold, such as being a B Corp, certified carbon neutral or part of the ‘1% for the planet’ movement. We also have our ‘green badges’ which give you a way of filtering brands who are trying to manage their carbon footprint, reduce plastic, support recycling and take other actions towards a more sustainable future.
Thinking about what you are buying and whether there are alternatives is a good start though. For example, if you’re buying a gift, would an experience be a better alternative to a product? If you buy certain foods or cleaning products regularly, could you swap to refillable solutions rather than having to throw away or recycle packaging each time? And look out for brands who show a commitment to the environment, reducing their carbon footprint and supporting biodiversity.
For now, here are some ideas to get started:
Use what you have / Reduce what you buy
This might seem an odd thing for a shopping platform to highlight, but we’d rather no one bought things they don’t really need. This is the lowest possible impact for the lowest possible spend, solving two issues that we care passionately about. Take a breath and ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ before every purchase. For everyday essentials such as utilities, food and insurance, there are plenty of options to save money and plant trees through our platform, such as:
Uswitch, Confused.com, Aldi, Marks & Spencer
Buy second hand
Buying things that already exist is likely to have a significantly lower footprint than buying things new. It also means that these things are kept in use rather than being thrown away or wasted. Charity shops are a great source of hidden gems if you have the time to browse. If you’re looking for online options, we have plenty through our platform, such as:
eBay, preloved, preworn, reboxed, 4gadgets
Borrow or rent
Sometimes we don’t actually need to own something to make use of it. Rather than buy something which will then sit unused, need to be sold on or, even worse, be thrown away after minimal use, why not borrow or rent it? Many businesses are shifting towards this as part of the movement towards a circular economy and we have examples of this available through the platform, such as:
The Devout, Music Magpie, Affordable Mac, HSS Hire
Spend on non-physical items
We all feel the pressure to buy gifts for birthdays, festivals and even just to show some appreciation, but how often are those gifts really appreciated and needed? Giving an experience, be it a day out or theatre trip is very likely to have a lower impact on the planet and can create a wonderful memory to be enjoyed long into the future. Check out some of our partners offering this:
Red Letter Days, Experience Days, Theatre Tickets Direct, From The Box Office
Buy sustainable swaps
There are lots of alternative options out there now for traditional products that have tended to be single-use or use a lot of plastic, such as household and cleaning products or deodorants and cosmetic products. Several stores on the platform offer a range of these, including:
&Keep, Friendly Turtle, Ethical Superstore
Reduce packaging and use refills
It’s not only the product itself that has an ecological footprint, but also the packaging it arrives in. Single use plastic is ending up in our waterways and oceans and doing untold damage. Even recyclable packaging is rarely 100% recoverable so will always lead to some waste. Refillable and plastic reducing solutions are a fast growing sector, why not try some of these out?
Good Club, Fiils, Milk & More, Wild
Don’t forget that while we’d love to convince you to change some shopping habits and will keep providing more information to help do this, you can make a difference simply by doing as much of your spending as you can through Shop for Climate Change. We estimate that on average you can not only get £300 cashback per year doing this, you will also automatically plant 120 trees. And donating just 10% of your own cashback to plant trees will result in an additional 245 trees in your personal forest. Taken together that’s one tree planted every day of the year – it may not be perfect but it’s a great start to making the change that we all need to see.