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Consumers need to become more aware of the indirect impacts their purchases have.

After food, clothing purchases alone have the second highest environmental impact (in terms of land disturbance, energy and water use) of all our consumption activities. The amount of water used in the production and transport of clothes bought by an average household each year is 150,000 litres.

Next time you go shopping ask yourself a few questions before making a purchase. For example, how far has this product travelled to reach the shelf? How long will this product last? Is there a better alternative, or do I even need it at all?

Here are a few more ways to reduce the impact of your shopping on the environment.

Avoid buying new appliances

A substantial amount of household energy consumption and greenhouse pollution can be attributed to white goods (fridges, freezers, washing machines, televisions and clothes dryers). If you don't really need a new appliance and you only want the latest model because it looks good and your friend has one, don't buy it. If you really do need a new appliance, compare the energy rating of different models (and buy the most efficient one), buy the most durable one, and only operate it to the manufacturer's instructions.

Only buy things that last

There is no point buying a cheap air conditioner or TV that you know will not last for long. Look for, and only purchase items that are water and/or energy efficient. Items that are built to last may be more expensive up-front but they'll be much cheaper in the long run. This applies to big purchases (like cars and bikes), and equally to smaller purchases (like light bulbs, for example).

Look for the stars

All new appliances are required to show their energy or water efficiency under a star rating system. More stars equal greater product efficiency. Some products like TVs and stereos may comply with energy standards without a label displayed. Ask sales staff and check in brochures for information on how a product compares to the ENERGY STAR standard. If sales staff can't tell you, get them to ask their supplier. And if you can't get any information, don't buy the product.

Buy the most energy or water efficient option

Make sure you purchase the most energy or water efficient item that meets your needs. Consider alternatives. For example, laptop computers are more efficient than desktops. Front-loading washing machines use significantly less water than top-loaders. And refrigerators with built in icemakers are a waste of energy.

If you are interested in shopping for Eco-friendly products, visit

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