OPINION: The effects of eco-friendly holiday shopping

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Kojo Addaquay is a junior
Environmental Fellow
from Accra, Ghana.

The end of the year has finally arrived, and along with the many festivities comes the nationwide shopping frenzy. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the focal point of consumer spending, during the holiday seasons most of us typically purchase more goods than usual as we engage in the annual tradition of gift giving. But as informed consumers it is important that we act sustainably by seeking out more ecologically friendly products. Not only are they more likely to be healthier or safer, but can also be cost-effective for you. Not to mention the additional benefit of making a positive contribution to preserving the environment.

One common misconception that often buries people's sustainable sentiments is the notion that our individual efforts don't have a significant enough impact to bring about meaningful changes. More often than not this is simply a lazy attempt to avoid personal responsibility if it causes inconvenience. But individualized decisions are important because collectively, they have the power to influence institutional adaptations that reflect these individual decisions.

Another misconception that often limits people's ability to be more eco-friendly is that "green" products are limited to green-certified items sitting in store shelves. While buying these products often has beneficial consequences, there are various other ways of shopping sustainably. You can reduce your carbon footprint by buying fresh food from your local farmers market. You can reduce your energy consumption by not buying excessive Christmas lights. And you can reduce your toxic waste by trading in your electronic devices instead of throwing them away.

Aside from the greater benefits eco-friendly shopping has on the environment, it can also be of great benefit to you in making long term cost savings. Buying less stuff you don't need, reducing energy consumption and opting for reusables over disposables could save you a lot of money and time. But more importantly it is the more ethically responsible thing to do, especially if you're aware of the underlying consequences of our consumerism.

So while you're out holiday shopping, please remember 'tis the season to shop responsibly.