Buy This, Not That: 12 Purchases You Can Make That Make a Difference

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Going green doesn’t have to mean making huge changes to the way you live your life. Even making a few small changes in your shopping habits can benefit the environment. By simply replacing the products you usually buy with a similar alternative, you can feel better about yourself and your impact on the world around you. And if you happen to be planning a big ticket purchase in the future, there are green options to consider there as well.

1. Snacks

Instead of purchasing your usual bag of potato chips or tortilla chips, switch to Sun Chips. The new packaging being used by the company is made with plant fibers, and is fully compostable within only 14 weeks. The chips themselves are made with the aid of solar energy. For more information, visit

2. Diapers

In addition to being made with non-renewable petroleum products, disposable diapers pose another risk to the environment: human waste. Babies may be cute, but their solid waste can still carry pathogens and potentially harmful bacteria, meaning that landfills being choked with disposable diapers could potentially leech bacteria into the earth or into the water supply. Therefore, you may want to consider making the switch to cloth diapers. You can check your local Yellow Pages for a diaper service in your area.

3. Cleaning Products

Cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals, and most people are not aware that most surface cleaning wipes and sprays are meant to be followed with a water rinse to remove the noxious chemicals from our countertops and other hard surfaces. And while there are many “green” cleaning products on store shelves today, a simple mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water can bust through grime AND disinfect.

4. Light Bulbs

Replacing all the lights in your house with energy efficient bulbs can save you money over the long haul. Yes, the energy efficient bulbs cost a little more, but according to, the bulbs pay for themselves in about 6 months. According to the Energy Star website, “If every American home replaced just one light with an ENERGY STAR light, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, about $700 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions of about 800,000 cars.”


5. Windows

Yes, everyone knows that energy efficient/low-e windows are better for the environment. But did you know that homes with these type of windows are eligible for federal tax credits of up to $1,500? For more information, visit

6. Chocolate

Put down that Hershey bar and pick up candy from a company like Endangered Species, which donates a portion of their profits to supporting wildlife habitats. For more info, visit

7. Low Flow Toilets

If you are renovating your bathroom, selecting low-flow toilets over an older model toilet can help reduce your energy and water costs, which cuts back on the amount of fresh water your household uses every week. Granted, you may not be in the market for a new toilet, even if a new, low-flow model could save you money. But even if you don’t have the cash to invest in a new toilet, you can modify your current toilet so that it uses less water by inserting a brick or filled one-liter soda bottle into the tank.

8. Water

Unless you are stockpiling gallons of water as part of an emergency preparedness effort, it makes sense both financially and in terms of your carbon footprint to filter your own water, rather than buy bottle after bottle. Filtration pitchers and a pack of replacement filters can be yours for under $30, and installing a built-in filtration system for your water faucet will only set you back about $100 for a low-end system.

9. Paints

Waterbased, low-VOC paints are far greener than their traditional counterparts. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which can pose a risk to both humans and their environment. Brands include Sherwin Williams Aura, Freshaire, and Benjamin Moore Regal.

10. Pots and Pans

In need of new stockpots or frying pans? Consider the wares from companies like Green Pan (, which offer non-stick performance with the promise that each pan is created with 60% less CO2 emissions than traditional cookware.

11. Makeup

Ditch the drugstore and splurge on makeup that is as good for you as it is for the environment. Online retailers like Sephora have organized their stock into Organic and All-Natural sections, making it easy to select the right cosmetics for you.

12. Disposable Cups

If you are hosting a big party, chances are you’d rather use disposable cups instead of filling your sink with cups and glassware. Avoid plastic cups and opt instead for fully biodegradable cups made from corn. Also, make sure that you read the label to make sure that they are chlorine-free. Brands include ecotainer and Nature Friendly.

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