Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Wastes—Educational Materials

Let's Go Green Shopping

You can conserve resources, save energy, and prevent waste by buying products that:

  • Are energy efficient
  • Are used or reusable
  • Are made with recycled content or are recyclable
  • Have no packaging or reduced packaging

Everything you buy affects the environment, but some choices are better than others.

Did You Know?
Since your parents were born, the amount of trash each American generates has doubled.*

“Green purchasing” means buying smart. Shop with the environment in mind—that is, buy products that help conserve natural resources, save energy, and prevent waste. Green purchasing can also mean not buying things you don’t need. By educating yourself about the products you buy, you can make a difference in protecting the environment.

Green purchasing involves learning about all the ways that a product can affect the environment during the course of its “life cycle”—from the materials used to manufacture it, to how you use it, to what you do with it when you’re finished with it—so that you can make smart choices.

Use the tips and resources in this brochure to make yourself an educated consumer.

Top of page

Shopping Tips

Buy smart. Take some time to think before you buy something—maybe you don't really need it. Maybe you can think of an alternative to buying a product, such as renting a DVD instead of buying it or sending a free e-card instead of a paper birthday card. Shopping with the environment in mind will conserve resources, prevent waste, and save money.

Buy durable products. Instead of buying disposable products, which are wasteful, buy things that will last a long time, such as rechargeable batteries and reusable plastic mugs for drinks.

Avoid excess packaging. Look for products that have less packaging, or buy in bulk—you’ll have less to throw away. You can also buy items with packaging that can be reused or recycled.

Buy used. Buying things that have been used before means that your purchase doesn’t use more resources or energy. If the item is still reusable when you’re through with it, then the next person to use it is not using additional resources either. You can find authentic retro clothes, room accessories, and even sports equipment at your local thrift store. Shop online or at local stores to buy used CDs and books.

Share with friends. Another way to save resources and energy is to swap with friends and family instead of buying brand-new products. Maybe you and your friends like the same video games. Why not share your games instead of each of you owning the same game? Or maybe you can rent the game first to see if you really want to own it.

Buy energy-efficient items. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo when buying electronics such as TVs, CD players, DVD players, and computers. ENERGY STAR is a program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products.

Did You Know?
For every 42 notebooks made with 100 percent recycled paper, one tree is saved.*

Buy recycled. Buying items made with recycled-content materials means that fewer natural resources, such as trees, were used to produce the products. Products made from recycled paper, plastic, and other materials are usually easy to recognize in the store—just read the labels. Try starting with school supplies. Many stores carry recycled notebooks, pens, and other products.

How do my purchases make a difference?

Did You Know?
Young people spend or influence the spending of $300 billion a year, or about 1 in 3 dollars spent.*

Buying “green” lets companies know that you care about the environmental impact of the products you buy. Why would a big corporation care what you think? Because your current and future purchasing power is extremely important to them. In fact, companies spend $12 billion a year marketing their products to you.* Shopping “green” sends a message to the companies—that you care about the environment, and you’re not afraid to use your buying power to prove it.

Did You Know?
67 percent of parents buying a new car base their decision on advice from their kids, who are not even old enough to drive.*

Your purchasing choices affect what your parents buy. Your parents buy groceries and other items based on your likes and dislikes, and they might even buy a car input from you and your siblings. Your friends also listen to what you have to say when they decide what to buy. Use your influence to help others shop smart and protect the environment.

Top of page

For More Information

Use the following resources to find more information about how you can make a difference!

According to Teen People

62 percent of its readers try to use environmentally friendly products.*

"The Cost of Cool” Exit EPA —co-produced by the National Wildlife Federation, Population Communications International, and The Video Project—is a 26-minute video and curriculum guide package expressly designed for teens. It includes background information and hands-on activities about consumption, media, and the environment.

Buy Green Here

The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County’s Eco-Friendly Marketplace Exit EPA lists companies that sell green products, including book bags made from reclaimed rubber inner tubes, hats and mittens made from recycled sweaters, belts and jewelry made from bottle caps, and purses made from old license plates and hubcaps.

Co-op America’s Green Pages OnlineTM Exit EPA is a directory of green companies that are of green companies that are committed to social and environmental responsibility.

Ecological Footprint Exit EPA helps teens and others calculate the impact their choices have on the environment.

EPA’s Green Advertising Claims (PDF) (6 pp, 1.1MB, about PDF) brochure contains information about specific terms used to describe products, including “environmentally friendly,” “biodegradable,” and “ozone friendly.”

EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program Web site—while mainly designed for government workers—contains great green purchasing resources and links.

ENERGY STAR® is a program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products.

Top of page

Tips to reduce waste
  • Use products made with recycled materials
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs and rechargeable batteries
  • Shop with cloth bags
  • Reuse plastic bags, cups, containers, etc.
  • Repair items instead of throwing them away.
  • Compost your food and yard waste.

Learn more about reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Jump to main content.