It’s no secret that the world is facing mounting environmental challenges. As more people begin to take into consideration the amount of waste caused by everyday purchases, cities like Denver are implementing initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable way of life for residents and tourists alike.
Shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavor. In fact, Denver makes it easy by providing a place for eco-conscious businesses to build a loyal following. In this article, we’ll highlight local businesses and provide tips for implementing sustainable living practices into everyday life.
What Does Sustainable Shopping Look Like?
For the average consumer, sustainable shopping doesn’t have to represent an upheaval of all day-to-day shopping habits. Starting small can go a long way. Education is a key component in sustainability, as the more knowledge that the average consumer is armed with when making conscious product choices — the better for the environment.
When customers seek out products that are eco-friendly and free of harmful chemicals and excess plastic packaging, they’re practicing sustainable shopping. It’s also put into practice when consumers choose small businesses over large conglomerate retailers. Luckily, Denver has no shortage of zero-waste stores, farmer’s markets, and locally-owned boutiques.
When committing to shopping more sustainably, a mindset shift is often required. Sometimes, the sustainable, environmentally-friendly choice may be more expensive than the alternative. If possible, making a point to invest a few extra dollars in the competitor’s product can push major brands into investing in compostable packaging and revamping their sustainability initiatives to market to consumers who are growing more conscious of their carbon impact.
Tips for Shopping Sustainably in Denver (and Anywhere!)
Before you shop, arm yourself with a few strategies to stay mindful of the environment. In today’s world, it can feel impossible to avoid plastic altogether or to make eco-conscious choices at every meal. Whether you’re located in Denver or elsewhere in the world, these are some quick tips for reducing your carbon footprint while shopping.
- Bring Your Own Bags
Some grocery stores have abandoned single-use plastic bags altogether, while others still freely give them out. Bringing your own set of reusable totes to the store can save up to 1,500 plastic bags each year. This one-time purchase can last for hundreds of shopping trips and prevent even more plastic waste from cluttering landfills and finding its way into the ocean.
- Consider Shopping Second Hand
Whenever you need a wardrobe refresh, check out the local thrifts before heading to a department store. Buying second hand not only saves money but also helps provide new life to items. Most major cities have organized buy nothing groups that can be found on social media sites, such as Facebook, where locals can trade amongst themselves for zero cost. Even major brands, such as Patagonia and Lululemon, offer trade-in programs to incentivize consumers to consider second hand.
- Spend More & Replace Less Often
While it may sound counterintuitive to some, sometimes spending more can result in saving money in the long run. Purchasing a higher quality piece of clothing or a durable appliance can prevent you from needing to replace it as often. In a world of increasingly fast fashion, investing in wardrobe staples that will stand the test of time is one way to reduce your climate impact.
- Head to the Farmers Market
Enjoying a Sunday afternoon at a nearby farmers market can be a great way to buy local, organic ingredients for the upcoming week. Supporting local farmers and growers is a significant way to shop more consciously. Produce doesn’t have to be shipped from across the nation. Instead, it’s grown within the region and therefore, is fresher. Think about it this way, why buy tomatoes shipped thousands of miles when you could support the farmer a few miles down the road?
- Eat According to the Season
In line with shopping at the farmers market, consumers who purchase produce that’s in the current season end up with food that is grown according to the weather conditions. When fruits and vegetables are grown out of season, they often require more water and potentially chemical additives to ensure they ripen properly. This tip can be put into action at local eateries as well when choosing menu items that allow seasonal produce to shine.
- Buy in Bulk
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Costco or a Sam’s Club, purchasing a membership can enable you to buy in bulk. This not only results in savings on everyday items but less packaging. You’ll end up making purchases less often as well. Bulk purchases can eliminate the need for items to be packaged individually, which saves plastic, bottles, jars, and cans from ending up in landfills.
Where to Shop Sustainably in Denver
Zero waste stores, second hand shops, and upcycling boutiques are all the rage in Denver. These are a few of our favorite locations for reducing plastic waste and supporting local Colorado artisans in their quest to make sustainability accessible for all.
Though they have no physical address, the Conscious Merchant pops up around Colorado and even delivers to your door. Consumers can purchase online and have their products personally delivered the next day. This local woman-owned business is guided by the principles of sustainable living and community. The founder, Kara Armstrong, has a Master’s degree in Public Health and a desire to see a reduction in environmental toxins. She opened the Conscious Merchant in 2019 to educate and empower consumers to make a positive impact on their health and well-being, as well as that of the environment.
Address: 2601 East 3rd Avenue
Revampt Goods is a sustainable boutique selling custom furnishings from recycled raw materials such as boxcar flooring, bicycle tires, car hoods, and wine barrels. Most of the goods are crafted by local Colorado artisans. Customers can find one-of-a-kind home furnishings, as well as a selection of gifts that are sure to delight the eco-conscious individual in your life.
The shop has an ever-changing inventory, so there’s always something fresh to admire. Anybody searching for recycled items that have been given a new life will love visiting Revampt Goods. The business model includes a relationship with local Denver builders who are open to custom requests.
Address: 2936 Larimer Street
Homefill is a local Denver refiller, located inside the Modern Nomad Home — which is a collection of local businesses in one convenient location. Residents can visit Homefill to shop for products sourced in Colorado. Whether you’re looking for high-quality, eco-friendly home goods or you want to experience a low-waste way of living, Homefill sells cleaning supplies, personal care products, pet supplies, and even hand-poured bars of soap.
Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers, though they have reusable jars and bags that can be purchased. The business is dedicated to reducing plastic waste and saved over 4,000 bottles from Colorado landfills last year.
PRO Tip: If you’re out of town and want to experience what low-waste living is all about, check out the online shop with nationwide shipping.
Address: 4340 West 35th Avenue
Joy Fill was founded by Brittany Iseli, who is a dedicated conscious consumer wanting to make a larger impact while tackling the plastic waste problem. Brittany is on a mission to reduce the amount of single-use plastic and she moves closer to this purpose by selling reusable wraps, bags, straws, and a host of liquid items that are plastic-free such as cleaning sprays, shampoo, lotion, and dish and laundry detergents.
This refill shop donates 1% of all profits to charity organizations, such as Conservation Colorado, The Ocean Cleanup, and Groundwork Denver. Consumers can not only shop from a large selection of sustainable household products but they can help support organizations that are spearheading conservation projects to enhance the quality of the environment.
Address: 220 East 13th Avenue
Off the Bottle is dedicated to lessening carbon output by providing alternatives to products often sold in single-use plastic. They sell non-toxic and eco-friendly home and body items, such as shampoo, conditioner, detergent, moisturizer, and even toothpaste. Instead of buying the same products regularly and having to toss their containers in the garbage, Off the Bottle encourages Denverites to bring in reusable bottles and jars to refill.
The store even sells home and kitchen goods, such as bamboo dishwashing brushes and reading material on the importance of sustainable living. All products sold are cruelty-free.
Address: 2501 Dallas Street
ZERO market is located in nearby Aurora and features an impressive 1,200 products that have been carefully designed to promote low-impact living. The refill store is all about package-free products that are locally sourced and certified organic. There are dozens of bulk refill jars situated around the store holding eco-friendly cleaning products that customers can refill their reusable containers with.
The business sells reusable glass jars, as well as containers made from stainless steel. Customers won’t want to miss the gut-friendly on-tap kombucha, either. Whether you’re an avid proponent of a zero-waste lifestyle or just curious about how it all works, ZERO market has a little something for anybody shopping for local goodies.
PRO Tip: If you’re eager to learn more about sustainability, ZERO market hosts workshops on making DIY products such as soap, deodorant, and even cosmetics!
What is Denver Doing to Promote Sustainability?
Denver boasts a National Geographic ranking as being the #4 destination in the world for sustainability. This impressive accomplishment is largely in part to the capital city thinking well into the future by funding 100+ miles of bike lanes and acres of solar gardens. Not only do these investments propel Denver forward as a green city, but they also improve the overall quality of life for residents.
The Denver International Airport is spearheading green initiatives as well. The city has strategically positioned itself as a leader in the sustainability arena by investing in advanced technology and alternative fuel resources. The DEN airport began implementing solar panels back in 2008 and has since expanded to become one of the largest solar-hosting airports in the world.
The city boasts an extensive public transportation system, which includes multiple light rail lines and over 100 bus routes. Denver also implemented an electric bike program that put thousands of e-bikes into the hands of residents. Estimates have the program saving residents over one million dollars in gasoline. This not only protects the environment from pollution but also encourages commuters to opt for the climate-friendly ride to work.
Related Post: Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in Denver?
Making Sustainable Living More Attainable
Denver has no shortage of restaurants and eateries serving up locally sourced meals and small businesses that strive to create a better future. Many residents participate in recycling and composting, as a means to reduce, reuse, and cultivate the land. Every day, commuters opt for alternative methods of transportation or hop on an e-bike to head to the nearby brewery to meet a group of friends.
One of the most effective methods for reducing one’s environmental footprint is to shop more sustainably. While not everyone can embrace a fully sustainable way of life, Denver makes sure that making the sustainable choice is at the very least, an option. Everybody can find a handful of tips and tricks to reduce their waste and support small businesses while promoting a lifestyle that promotes a clean, healthy environment for generations to come.
Whether you’re simply passing through Denver and seeking out local businesses to support or you’re a resident hoping to reduce their environmental impact on the stunning mountainous landscape, Denver has a great deal to offer. Small changes make big differences and supporting local businesses is never a bad decision.