How to Shop Green on a Budget

By Niharika Bandaru

So you’ve read countless articles on humankind’s footprint on the planet and recent catastrophic weather events have you convinced that our Earth is in urgent, nay, dire need of help, from each and every one of us.

But you’re broke, or you think you will be if you start buying artisan, hand-crafted soap from carefully designed hipster stores. And you may not be entirely wrong about that.

Worry not good friend, for WOC is here to show you how to be a good citizen of the planet and make Captain Planet proud without having to give up an arm and a leg.

We have created a thorough list of tips and suggestions for a healthy, budget-friendly conversion to a more sustainable lifestyle, and we’ve taken examples from our own daily practices. You may find adopting to some more suitable to you than others, and may want to improvise some others. Either way, we hope you pick up some tips and make them your own! It’s easier than you think.

In our first post, we show you how to reduce your carbon footprint while shopping. So here we go:

Make a shopping list: Making a list will allow you to think ahead and plan your purchasing choices (organic, cruelty-free etc.). Added benefit: you meander less through the aisles and reduce your chances of going over budget.

BYOB: Bring your own bags. Throw a spare cloth/ reusable bag in your trunk. Reusable produce bags are also available for cheap, or you can DIY. Save those 75₵ on every trip to the grocery store.

produce bags.PNG

Reusable produce bags are a great way to cut down cheap plastic waste.

Shop local: You’re buying local (cutting down emissions from transportation and packaging), promoting the local economy AND eating fresher. Win, win, win!

Strip down: Buy products with minimal packaging. Each one of your grapes DO NOT have to be individually wrapped in the worst quality, non-recyclable plastic.

Buy seasonal: Chomping on fresh, locally grown carrots in Fall and apples in the Winter are not only easy on your pocket, but also better for the environment. You reduce the distance your food must travel to get to you. Check out Ontario seasonal produce here.

Don’t be judgmental: Pick that slightly distorted tomato. Just because it looks like it’s growing an extra limb doesn’t make it any less nutritious or delicious. “Ugly” foods cost the world millions of dollars every year, and it’s unjustified because food costs keep rising in Canada. Some Canadian brands are even offering discounts on misshapen foods. Check them out here.

odd fruit.PNG

Oddly shaped fruits and vegetables, despite their nontraditional appearances, are often just as nutritional and delectable as regular food.

Say NO to the bottle: Bottled water is one of the worst products you can purchase, in terms of carbon management and expenditure. From cradle to grave, bottled water and the bottles themselves, continue to leave one of the greatest carbon footprints. Switch to a reusable bottle, drink from the tap.

Befriend the produce aisle: Fruits and veggies are cheaper on average than meat, and much more sustainable. There is growing evidence showing the impacts of industrially farmed meat on the environment. A great way to get started is to cut out meat just one day a week, and take it from there!

Quality over quantity: Fast fashion is promising, but often neither cheap nor sustainable. Make that one time “luxurious” purchase, and choose quality over quantity. Good quality clothes, bags and shoes last much longer, minimize the frequency of replacement, and give you a better bang for your buck.

Refills galore: A lot of eco stores sell biodegradable, natural, concentrated cleaning products and offer refills on popular items such as laundry detergents, dishwashing liquids and such. They might seem expensive on your initial purchase, but not only do a lot of them last longer but the stores ask you to bring back your containers for refills, cutting out a lot of excess plastic waste.


Shop for natural cleaning products and ask for refill options at your local natural store.

No to receiving receipts: Plenty of stores and cash registers offer you an email receipt option. This is a great way to cut out paper wastage.



Which of these do you practice in your own daily lives? Share your own unique ways of shopping well for the planet, and let us know if we’ve missed any!

Stay tuned to WOC for more!