For many years, people relied on buying products that were sourced locally to their town or country. This began to change with the opening of trade routes, first by merchant ships and flourished with the rise of internet usage as more people could access almost any item for sale from around the world.
Many countries now outsource goods and services to other countries due to cheaper employment and raw material costs than in their home land. Today there is much more of a global market as items are exported across the world. This has allowed savvy internet shoppers to find unusual items and have them shipped directly to their home and often for much cheaper items than they might pay locally. In other ways it has been detrimental, with some local businesses closing and a significant portion of manufacturing being outsourced to an external country.
As a shopper, you might like to think of your purchases as a vote for what you consider appropriate behavior from the store you are buying from. If you think it's reprehensible to test on animals, then you would choose to buy from a store that has ethical animal practices in place. If more people feel like you do and stop buying these types of products, the industry will listen and your 'vote' will help create a greener, cleaner, friendlier shopping environment – as you can see from the number of green and organic products beginning to surface today – a good sign consumers are moving in a positive direction!
After you've set your own moral compass for shopping you should consider adding supporting local business onto your list of requirements. If local businesses flourish, so will the local economy. Yes, buying local can cost a few extra dollars in some cases, but often the extra investment can purchase a product that's made out of higher quality materials that will last a lot longer than their cheaper counterpart.
You may also want to consider supporting local when it comes to fruit and vegetable shopping. This will mean only buying seasonal fruit when it's actually in season. Also, think of the cost and environmental impact of importing consumables like fruit and vegetables. If you're buying off a local farmer, your goods have used less fuel to reach you and will often be much fresher.
Another green shopping method is buying items that are handmade. They can be more labor-intensive than mass-produced imports, but this often means they will be better quality, lasting you longer and lengthening the time before replacement is needed. This effectively reduces the cost in the long run anyway. For example, a crafts-person spends time honing their skills to make a handmade product. The process starts from ground zero and is completed with patience and practice. Only the best materials are used and a learned trades-person has the know-how from years of experience, to create a long-wearing work of art.
Finally, try to source natural and organic products where you can. Shop for clothes that are made out of natural fabrics and beauty products that are organic and cruelty-free. Your purchasing decision will encourage slow-fashion companies that use natural, non-polluting fibers for manufacturing their clothing items. In making these choices, you can diminish the poor-quality clothes (or throwaway fashion) that are made out of synthetic fibers, which are bad for the environment and your health.
The same goes for beauty products. There are many local companies that manufacture organic, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free products, which are much better than the ones that are mass-produced and contain a wide range of chemical and toxic components. Organic products are great for your skin and body, are entirely safe to use from all points of view, and are not tested on animals, which means that they don't have to suffer in the name of biped beauty. With this information in mind, we encourage you to go forth young grasshopper and become a sustainable shopper!