Daily purchases and the environment

The goods and services you buy and use on a daily basis, such as your morning coffee, have a direct impact on the environment. Be proactive: consider how you can help prevent pollution or waste when buying food and other items.

On this page

Preventing food waste

There are many ways you can prevent food waste and save on food costs.

  • Make a grocery list before you go to the grocery store. This will help you remember items needed and help you avoid buying too much of one item.
  • Make a meal plan to help you buy only what you need when you go to the store.
  • Keep track of expiry dates, ensuring that you consume food prior to expiry. For more information on reading food date labels, visit Health Canada's website.
  • Save leftovers and compost scraps to lessen the amount of food waste you create.
  • Grow your own fruit and vegetables in a garden at home, or get involved with a community garden in your neighbourhood.
  • Shop at local businesses and buy only what you need. Avoid buying perishable foods in bulk, which is associated with increased rates of food waste.
  • Consider eating and buying locally or regionally grown foods to reduce pollution. Check the food labels or grocery store signage to determine where the food was grown.
  • The food and drink you choose can impact the environment. Learn how to make healthy choices for you and the environment.

Preventing packaging waste

Before you buy a product, look at the type of packaging that it comes in.

Recyclable packaging

Many items for purchase are wrapped in paper and plastic. You can check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office to see which of these can later be recycled, repurposed or composted.

Single-use packaging

Many types of plastic are not compostable or recyclable, so be aware of the types of products you are buying and disposing of. Consider buying products with little to no packaging to reduce the amount of waste you produce.

Buying non-perishable foods in bulk may help to reduce waste associated with single-use packaging. You may also consider using a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing one that is single-use, as well as taking your own bags to the grocery store.

For more information on single-use packaging, please visit pollution and waste management.

Be on the lookout for greenwashing

You want to shop green, but it takes a bit of planning! As more Canadians demand products and services with a reduced environmental impact, some companies have responded with an increased supply of “green” products. But not every product is as “green” as it looks.

Along with this increase in “green” products, there has been an increase in false, misleading, or unsupported environmental claims, which are illegal in Canada.

This practice is called “greenwashing”. It can take many forms, including claims, adjectives, colours and symbols used to create an impression that a product or service is more environmentally friendly than it really is.

When you’re shopping:

  • Remember that while some “green” claims are true, others may be false, misleading, or unsupported by adequate evidence
  • Be vigilant when you come across a vague or broad statement such as “eco-friendly” and “safe for the environment”. Without any further explanation of the claim, it might lead to misinterpretation and deception. 
  • Don’t be fooled by nature-themed images like water, clouds, plants, animals and earth, or colours used on packaging and in marketing
  • When you see eco logos or labels make sure they are trustworthy. Visit the Office of Consumer Affairs’ page on Environmental labels and claims to find the most common green claims and labels you will see in Canada.
  • Remember: all consumer goods have an impact on the environment, including those that claim to be "green"

If you have doubts about an environmental claim, don’t be afraid to reach out to the company and ask them questions. If you believe that a business may have made a false, misleading or unsupported environmental claim, report it to the Competition Bureau.

Pollution prevention resource finder

Looking for more practical pollution prevention tips, tools and guidance? The Pollution prevention resource finder (P2 Finder) is Canada's one-stop database of online pollution prevention resources.