Energy Diet

A Simple Key to Shopping Wisely

An electronics recycling bin, which is required by law of retailers in Slovenia.

An electronics recycling bin, which is required by law of retailers in Slovenia.

Nowadays, we live in a consumer society in which we buy and buy and buy, all the time. In Slovenia each year there are more and newer stores, big markets, etc. And sometimes I ask myself how all these markets and stores can survive. Who buys goods on such a large scale that each and every one of these retailers has enough to operate with a surplus, which allows them not just to survive, but also to invest in more locations. People are really unlimited consumers nowadays.

That’s why we in our family decided to make a list of needed goods before we enter into the market. We prepare this list a couple of days or sometimes even a week before we go shopping. When we notice that something is missing at work or at home, we add the item on the list. Later on, when we go shopping, we only buy items from the list. With this kind of action we avoid buying unnecessary goods just because we happen to see them on sale or have an impulse. The sellers’ trick is to show customers as many goods possible, and nowadays almost all of them are marked with some kind of price-reduction or “great advantage” that customers “just can’t miss”. And usually, sellers are successful with these kind of tricks.

So, when you go shopping, I advise you to take a list with you and buy just the items that are on the list and that you really need. With this kind of action you’ll significantly reduce the weight of your shopping bag or basket, purchasing fewer products and making less of an impact on the environment.

A Duracell display comes equipped with a bin for recycling used batteries.

A Duracell display comes equipped with a bin for recycling used batteries.

Stores are also very big energy consumers, with all their cooling machines and air-conditioning. In Slovenia, markets are kept quite cool during summertime. But when we traveled for one month around the United States two years ago, the markets were so cold that I started to take my cardigan with me when I went shopping. In Slovenia we usually shop at the biggest Slovene retailer, Mercator, which has very high environmental awareness

To reduce air pollution, we also try to limit shopping to once a week, when we go by car. For everyday bread, we can walk or bike to a little store nearby. Also for milk and eggs, which we buy at a nearby farm, we can go walking or biking. By buying goods directly from farmers, we avoid the commercial sales chain and have an influence on the environment.

For seasonal vegetables such as potatoes, onions and garlic, we drive once a year to a farmer in another region of Slovenia. We buy enough for a whole year and then we keep it in the cellar for everyday use. We do the same with olive oil and pumpkin seed oil, which we use mostly for salad. As I already wrote about, we get a lot of vegetables and fruits from my husband’s parents’ garden.

Bins at Mercator let customers drop off old phones and phone batteries.

Bins at Mercator let customers drop off old phones and phone batteries.

One more thing worth noting, which I discovered when I got feedback from our coaches on the diet. It seems that in the States, there isn’t any legislation that requires stores to take back used old electronics. In Europe, we have very strong legislation about it and I think it’s aligned with state laws in almost all of the EU countries. I strongly believe that only with strict state rules and legislation can we start to positively change our impact on the environment in today’s society. And when we change our minds, we should transfer this thinking to our children, so that they begin their lives with environmental awareness and don’t even start making environmentally unfriendly mistakes.

Comments

  1. clipton
    March 1, 2011, 7:01 pm

    I did some research on US stores taking electronics back. My source stated, “no legislation requires retailers to take back the products they sell unless they are also a manufacturer (like Best Buy makes its own house brands of TVs). This is something that Europe requires, but the retailer lobby is very strong here and it would never pass.”

    A bit sad and frustrating…