Shopping guide

Shopping trolley

Did you know?

Everything we buy, from a litre of milk to a new pair of shoes, generates carbon emissions, from its production, packaging and how it is transported to the shop or to your door. By adapting our shopping habits and reducing our consumption of all sorts of products, we can reduce our carbon footprint.

So here are some ideas for making changes… 


Wearing a garment more often and holding onto it for longer reduces the carbon footprint of your clothing, so buying good quality clothing that will last, if you can, is a good idea. In the UK, continuing to actively wear a garment for just nine months longer could diminish its environmental impacts by 20–30%.  

Cutting down on washing your clothes and considering how you dry them can also help to reduce the carbon footprint of your wardrobe, while also helping to lower water use.

Buying second-hand fashion is a growing trend; check out second-hand fashion websites, vintage and charity shops and grab yourself a bargain.  This gives clothes a second life and means you’re not buying new. 

If you shop online for clothes only order what you really want and intend to keep, rather than ordering lots of things and sending most of them back.  This reduces delivery mileage and packaging.  It can also reduce further waste, because what you send back isn’t necessarily dusted off and resold, it could be shipped across the world as a discounted product or end up in landfill.

Swap clothes with friends as a way of refreshing your wardrobe and theirs!

Extend the life of your clothes and learn how to repair them.  From fast fixes, such as sewing on buttons and removing stains, to more challenging activities like replacing a zip, Love Your Clothes, set up by UK recycling charity WRAP, has lots of great information on shopping smarter for clothes, caring for and repairing your clothes, refashioning and upcycling and much more. 

How you dispose of your clothes is also important. If they are still good enough to be worn you can take them to charity shops or sell them through second-hand clothes apps, but don’t do that simply as a way of clearing space to go and buy new clothes. 

Gadgets and appliances

We all have lots of gadgets in our homes from TVs and laptops to tablets and phones. The first thing to consider is whether you actually need to replace what you already have, so think twice before upgrading that gadget.  If you are upgrading then think about how you are going to dispose of the old one.  There are companies that buy old phones, tablets, games consoles etc and there are local charities that will take electrical goods. We also collect small electrical appliances as part of the kerbside collection service, but check out the list of recyclable items first.  

If you’re buying new home appliances such as fridges or washing machines, look for A-rated ones with Energy Saving Recommended labels. Choosing an A+++ fridge freezer over an A+ unit (of the same size) will save you about £320 in energy bills over the lifetime of the product.  Of all your home appliances, cold appliances such as fridges and freezers use by far the most electricity, so making the right choice can make a big difference.     

If you’d like to find out more, the Energy Saving Trust has lots of useful advice about home appliances of all sizes.


Buying second-hand furniture is a great way to reduce your personal environmental impact and there are plenty of places to buy from, from websites such as Ebay and Preloved to local charity shops.  You can use your ‘new’ second-hand furniture as it is or indulge your creativity and upcycle!

You can also sell or donate your own furniture but, depending on the item of furniture, make sure you keep the fire safety label on if you want to do that and also check for this when you’re buying second-hand.

If you are buying new, look for FSC or PEFC labels on wooden furniture and other wood products to guarantee the wood has been harvested from sustainable sources and in a sustainable way. You could also look for furniture and other items that are new, but made from recycled materials such as wood and textiles.


Our Food and Diet Guide has more information about how the food you buy affects climate change and the changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint from food, but:

  • Buy thoughtfully – buy local and in season if you can, look for certification labels such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance on imported foods, check the climate change credentials of companies you are buying from
  • Buy loose where you can to avoid packaging
  • Reduce waste by buying only what you need and make use of your leftovers

Be picky about packaging

Plastic packaging creates a lot of waste and is often difficult to recycle so try to avoid packaged products, for example buy loose fruit and veg, look for refill options – these are becoming more common for things like shampoo, cleaning products etc – and look out for shops where you can take your own containers. 

Other simple ideas include switching your liquid handwash for a bar of soap, taking your own reusable cup for that takeaway coffee, buying loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags and swapping cling film for beeswax wraps for your lunchtime sandwiches or storing that hunk of cheese.

Check out Plastic Free Cheltenham for ways to support a reduction in single-use plastics.