A shoppertunity to be green

Earth friendly. Biocompatible. 99% natural. 100% Eco-conscious.

The frustrating reality for shoppers today is that these labels don’t mean anything. At least that’s what the Federal Trade Commission determined when setting green label guidelines in 2012.

So what’s a shopper to do?

OEC put together a list of best practices for shoppers to help reduce, re-use, recycle—and to reward good environmental stewards.

If you’re not already doing everything on this list, October is a great time to start! Get in on the Northwest Earth Institute’s Eco-Challenge.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.53.19 AMGreen Shopper’s Checklist

Download a copy here.


  • Avoid PVC plastic (look for PVC free or phthalate-free)
  • Skip the fragrance (fragrance-free is good, but “unscented” may contain masking scents).
  • Avoid products with “Warning” and “Danger” labels for toxicity
  • Choose the item you need offered with the least packaging
  • Buy economy size ( “individually wrap” with your own packaging)
  • Visit the bulk section (bring your own packages)
  • Choose concentrated (products that give you more in a smaller container, like laundry soap)
  • Look for “post consumer” recycled paper products
  • Choose durable, re-useable and re-fillable products
  • Rent or borrow things you seldom use (is there a tool library near you?)


  • Choose re-useable shopping bags, coffee mugs and water bottles
  • Treat yourself to cloth napkins
  • Bring your own produce bags and bulk jars when grocery shopping
  • Think of the thrift store as your first stop when buying—or disposing of—durable goods
  • Re-use screw-top glass jars to store grains and dry goods (great for keeping pests at bay!)


  • Find new use for old stuff, like these 25 “hacks.”
    Spoil sport alert: At OEC, we are not sure how we feel about the circuit board wallet. Be cautious about repurposing items that may put you (or your food) in contact with heavy metals or other toxics.
  • Join your community’s master recycler program
  • Find out where to recycle almost anything with the “recycle search” at earth911.0rg


  • Choose foods that are grown organic, certified salmon safe, or Food Alliance certified.
  • Choose cleaning products that are certified Green Seal or Safer Choice
  • Choose cleaning products from brands that disclose all of their ingredients
  • Choose home renovation and furnishing materials that are third-party certified by groups such as Green Guard, Certipur and Cradle to Cradle (see more about labels).

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