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Monday, Nov. 4, 2013

November is "Responsible Consumerism" month here at the Center for Sustainability. To stay informed and understand the impact of your purchases, try partaking in conscious consumerism, which means buying products that are produced more sustainably and that push the industry towards certain goals. This can be accomplished by “voting with your dollar.” For example, by supporting companies with sustainable missions and practices, such as Annie’s Inc. or Clif Bar, we can encourage more companies to be responsible and sustainable.

Here are some tips on how your smartphone’s apps can help you to reduce, reuse, recycle and respect!

Buying less is the first step in changing your consumer habits. Whenever you are shopping, take time to consider how much you really need an item. Try to buy items in bulk when appropriate or items with less packaging. Make sure to put a list on your phone via Notes (paperless!) when you go shopping to reduce impulse buys or duplications. Check out the app PaperKarma to reduce the amount of junk mail you get at your home. The Avego app can help you find carpool rides to reduce your carbon emissions.

We can all move towards a world with less waste and less consumerism through reuse. Try repurposing items for other uses: that ratty old t-shirt can become a dish rag, part of a t-shirt bag, or a friend’s new t-shirt! Use apps like ClosetSwap to send friends pictures of clothing you want to swap or trade.

November 15th is America Recycles Day! Make sure to properly sort your waste and divert from landfills. The Center for Sustainability has put signs around campus to guide you through the process. If you are off campus, find out what you can and cannot recycle through recyclestuff.org. iRecycle is a free app designed to help you recycle wherever you are. The app has 1,500,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials and can help you find recycling centers nearby (via digitaltrends.com).

Always support companies with missions for sustainability and environmental justice. For tracking the origins of your purchases, check out the following iPhone apps that empower you to make more educated and respectful purchases. Buycott: This app allows you to scan your products and see which companies receive the money. The goal is to help “organize your consumer spending so that it reflects your principles” (buycott.com). For example, if you are trying not to support companies that make bottled water, it can be difficult (large companies often own hundreds of subsidiary companies and brands). But with Buycott, you can navigate through brands, avoid products that support them, and even join campaigns against certain companies. GoodGuide: GoodGuide works similarly to Buycott by scanning the barcode of your product with your smartphone. It helps you discover which products are “safe, healthy, green, and socially responsible” (digitaltrends.com). GoodGuide has rated more than 170,000 U.S. products by scoring in several categories. This app makes it easy to choose between products and become more informed on your everyday buys.

Here are more apps to help you live a greener life and to become a more conscious consumer.

Contributed by Lynsey Cumberford-Palmer ’14, Sustainability Intern, Faculty & Staff Initiatives

smartphone app display

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