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Your Guide To Sustainable Consumerism In The Upper Valley

Jul 16, 2020 11:48AM ● By Stephanie Pipas
I want to start out by saying: you are probably exhausted right now. With Covid-19 raging on, the upcoming election, not being able to see friends and family, and uncertainty for the future year in academic or professional settings, sustainable consumerism is probably not at the forefront of your mind.

Well, you can put your mind at ease, the goal of this article is not to incite more worry, but show the simplicity with which you can make a switch over to products and food that are better for yourself, your family, and the earth.

The reality is that sustainable consumerism has become elitist in past years, with clothing advertised as sustainable listed at incredibly high prices, organic foods costing much more (even in bulk), and installing solar panels being as much of a financial commitment as an in-ground pool. While these lofty prices still hold true for many sustainable products, the market is starting to make a transition from sustainable purchases as an exception to standard quality, thanks to consumer demand.

Lucky for us, making a switch to sustainable living has never been easier, especially here in the Upper Valley. In fact, many of these options have been right under our noses for a while!

Here is a list of ways to incorporate green living into your daily life! Go forth and purchase!



For many stuck at home, planning for the future includes searching shops (with a mask) and online for exciting outfits to wear once life goes back to normal. The first step you can take to greening up your wardrobe is to stop buying from companies that profit off of fast fashion. These are corporations that sell trendy, lower quality clothes, which are, unfortunately, yet commonly, manufactured by underpaid workers overseas. The corporation- think Forever 21 or H&M to name a few- must then ship the products huge distances, travel which is usually powered by fossil fuels.

Another hefty side effect of fast fashion is the huge amount of waste produced by leftover clothing that either does not get sold or gets thrown away once it is no longer in fashion to the buyer. These stores are so appealing because of their trendiness and their low prices. For a great alternative with low prices that give back to the community, check out the local The LISTEN Center in both White River Junction, VT, and Lebanon, NH. These stores sell a diversity of unique and exciting clothing at very low prices! And if pre-worn clothes make your nervous, have no fear; one wash and they are as good as new! If you are a designer hunter or love vintage, check out quirky Revolution of White River Junction or the trendy The Pink Alligator of Lebanon. They carefully select high-quality items that are brought in from local donors and in turn, give them credit at the store once the item sells. Look out for high end finds such as Versace or Giorgio Armani at incredible discounts. They also sell beautiful local and handmade clothing and jewelry!

Buying second hand is the most sustainable thing you can do as a shopper. And of course, we cannot disregard the siren’s call of online shopping. Skip over your usual websites and jump to second-hand online shops such as Poshmark, Mercari, and Tradesy. You can even list clothes or goods of your own to make a profit (I have found that Mercari is the best choice for selling)! Have fun bargaining with the seller for the fairest price and making offers. You might even find that while thrift shopping, you find items that better fit your personal style because the clothes are not always tailored to the trends of the season.


Home Goods

On the hunt for appliances, bathroom products, or even furniture? First of all, think local. One of the first rules of being a sustainable consumer is to buy from the nearest seller, thus reducing the negative side effects of shipping. Stick to locally owned stores and avoid large corporations. Buy products that are sourced sustainably, such as recycled wood, and avoid anything and everything made of plastic. If you can, stick to biodegradable materials: cotton for bed sheets, natural wood furniture, hemp-derived cloths, etc. Although it seems silly to ever buy an organic product that you will not be eating, it really makes a difference for the environment. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer runoff into water sources that surround farms and wreak havoc on ecosystems. If fertilizers enter a body of water, they commonly cause a phenomena called an algae bloom, where quick reproduction of algae results in the removal of oxygen from the water. It is not uncommon that ecosystems collapse because of non-organic farming. If you are looking for an adventure, check your town’s listserve for yard sales to find tools or antiques. New Hampshire and Vermont are chock full of antique stores and there is likely one in your town.  Again, do not be afraid to look on second-hand websites like Mercari and eBay for high-quality essentials, where you can filter for new, gently used, fair, or poor condition.


When consuming sustainably in the kitchen this summer, focus on two main points: sustainably sourced food and sustainable storage mechanisms. If you are not already practicing these choices, it’s an easy swap! As we head into summer, make it a priority to replace grocery shopping with a weekly trip to your town’s farmers’ market. That’s right-replace it. The farmers’ market should have quite literally everything you need food-wise that has been grown, raised, or baked locally! Bread is baked fresh with fewer preservatives, produce is likely grown organically, and animals raised for meat on smaller farms generally have higher life quality than those mass-produced. Look out for your favorite restaurants’ stands too (you might not have to cook dinner on market night!). Be sure to BYOB- bring your own bag that is- and if you happen to forget your bags at home, opt for paper over plastic. Once you have all of your excellent ingredients, you need a way to store them. Ditch the Ziploc bags- and anything single use for that matter. Check out this reusable and dishwasher safe silicone half-gallon bag from the Package Free Shop: . Avoid using Saran wrap and instead cover a dish with another plate. Keep in mind that buying one product that is reusable instead of many single-use ones will save you money in the long run.

Another money and environment-saving move are to reduce meat consumption in your and your family’s diet. Try starting out with meatless Mondays and go from there! You will find that switching to a sustainable system of living this summer will not frustrate you, but make your life easier.

Thank you for helping our environment!

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