Office of Sustainability

University of Mississippi

How to Go Green: Be a Smarter Consumer

“The manufacture, use, and disposal of certain products might have adverse impacts on human health and the environment…that impose costs that…ultimately, society as a whole, end up paying for in one way or another.”
— EPA

To be a greener consumer, consider a product’s environmental impact in addition to its price and quality. When you start to consider where a product comes from and how it is produced and packaged, you will start to make purchases that are better for the environment and that are more sustainable. If you find yourself standing in the aisle of the store with two products in your hands, and while comparing the two, you notice that one is packaged in thick plastic and the other is packaged in a cardboard box that could be recycled, you have just made a step towards becoming a green consumer.

Two main goals of being a greener consumer are: reducing waste and conserving energy.

Reducing Waste

Many products can be recycled, but we should also strive to generate fewer items that need to be disposed.

  • Packaging. Look at the whole product when deciding what to buy, including a product’s packaging. Try to buy products with packaging that is reusable, recyclable, and/or minimal. A good deal of energy goes into creating packaging that is often unnecessary and wasteful.
  • Recycled or remanufactured content. A product containing post-consumer recycled content or a remanufactured product may be greener than one solely composed of virgin materials. Purchasing products with recycled content helps to ensure there is a market for recycling.

Energy Conservation

  • ENERGY STAR. This program established by the EPA and Department of Energy is “a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The label helps consumers recognize which products are truly energy efficient according to strict standards set by the joint agencies. These products save money over the long-term and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and as such are preferable to those products without the label. Products recognized with the ENERGY STAR label should be purchased where applicable.For more information about the program and to find products, visit: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.

Energy Efficiency. For product categories without ENERGY STAR labels, try to purchase those that are energy efficient products.

EPA’s EPP Final Guidance
http://www.epa.gov/epp/pubs/guidance/finalguidance.htm