Everything else.. A Guide to Sustainable Shopping in Sri Lanka

A Guide to Sustainable Shopping in Sri Lanka

2019 Aug 29

Our impact – as human beings – on Planet Earth has become incredibly significant. In fact, our actions and choices have influenced the Earth’s geology and ecosystems so immensely, that scientists have declared this a new era, called the Anthropocene. Now, this can be both good and bad news, depending on how we look at it.


If until now, the unsettling news on pollution and climate change have left you feeling helpless, you may find some relief in the idea that follows. Every day, the choices we make through our shopping and consumption habits alone has a direct impact on the environment. How so? Every time you waste electricity, request or accept a plastic bag at the supermarket or litter on the street or beach, for instance, you become an indirect contributor to a much larger cycle of harmful practices that collectively destroy the environment.


A quick look at Sri Lanka’s position in the Global Footprint Network Database reveals that we rank high among countries with high biocapacity deficits, as of 2015. This means that Sri Lanka imports biocapacity through trade, liquidating national ecological assets or emitting carbon dioxide waste into the atmosphere. It also means that the average ecological footprint (i.e. the area of biologically productive land and water an individual, population or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes) per Sri Lankan is 1.5.


There is never a better time to begin making conscious choices on what you wear, eat or use daily. In fact, the Sri Lankan market is progressively gearing towards ethically-sourced and sustainable production and branding. However, the perception that “going green” can actually cost you more may not necessarily be true. Most Sri Lankan brands that advocate ethical sourcing and sustainability are, for the most part, reasonably priced and guarantees value for money.


Here’s a rundown of 05 ways to shop more sustainably, along with a list of fair-trade Sri Lankan brands to look out for and support!


  1. Consider HOW you shop for goods


Cut down on emissions by using public transport, cycling or walking to get to the shop(s). Avoid multiple trips to the store by shopping for everything you think you may need all at once.

More of an online shopper? You can make an impact too. Avoid opting for same-day/ next-day delivery or expedited shipping, unless absolutely needed. This option would require special arrangements for delivery like having less cargo on board, thereby adding to the issue of unnecessary emissions that pollute our air.


  1. Shop local


Supporting local businesses not only reduces your ecological footprint but also empowers your local community and craftsmen, not to mention Sri Lanka’s economy. Second-hand stores, thrift shops and garage sales are other good options to consider.


  1. Look up your favourite brands’ company ethics


If the business is transparent about their production process, it is a good sign. A code of ethics or something similar to this can usually be found on their official website or on social media. A little research can go a long way. Some brands may also have internationally recognized certifications such as “Fairtrade” or “B-Certified.”


  1. Use reusable bags


Plan in advance and carry some cloth or canvas bags with you. Check out Cally Reusable Bags that are sold in varying sizes. You can also encourage local stores to switch from plastic “sili-sili” bags to eco-friendly compostable bags instead (recommend eco360– a Sri Lankan supplier of bio-degradable plastic alternatives).

Cloth bags are not just good for the environment, but are way more durable and able to hold more weight.


  1. Avoid certain harmful fabrics



Polyester, for instance is made of oil and its synthetic fibers often find its way to waterways in the form of micro-plastics that are not visible to the naked eye. Bamboo rayon and acrylic are two other toxic fabrics that contribute to pollution and deforestation. Although it is hard to completely rid ourselves of using polyester fabrics, for instance, being mindful when purchasing such items frequently can matter in the long run.



Ensuring Decent Work Conditions and Environmental Sustainability: A List of Sri Lankan Brands to Support


1.Good Market – a unique market place in Colombo focusing mainly on quality local and organic produce and other local products that goes through heavy screening to ensure that all produce are organic. They also prioritize fair trade and varied traditional craft products by local artisans.


 2. House of Lonali – upcycles unwanted textiles from large manufacturers and transforms them into original clothes and lifestyle products. Read our review .


3. Selyn Fairtrade – commits to uplifting the living standards of rural artisans by providing them with opportunities and is Sri Lanka’s only Fair Trade guaranteed Handloom company.


4. Patched SL – strongly committed to empowering women. All products are hand-made with raw materials and are manufactured and handcrafted by women.


5. Carbon Consulting Company – Sri Lanka’s only provider of Integrated Sustainability Solutions. They offer a diverse range of consultancy services that cover all avenues of corporate sustainability, from water, carbon and waste to biodiversity.


6. Organic Life Teas – a community of individuals and farmers who are passionate about serving organically and fairly grown produce as fresh as possible.


7. Simply Eco Sri Lanka – a non-profit initiative to provide simple, earth-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products for a sustainable lifestyle- from reusable straws to cloth and mini draw-string gift bags.


8. Booteek SL – a non-profit organization that aims to link underprivileged women in Sri Lanka with the rest of the world by marketing products handmade by them.


9. Cally Reusable bags – advocates creating convenient, long lasting and biodegradable alternatives to single use polythene through their sale of reusable grocery bag combo packs. Includes lightweight draw-string bags and large tote bags for convenient shopping.


10. Bhumi Sri Lanka – an eco-friendly online marketplace dedicated to making ethical, cruelty-free, sustainable products more accessible to people in Sri Lanka. Products include reusable metal straws, reusable bamboo straws, vegan/cruelty-free/palm oil free soap and solid shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and bamboo cotton buds.


11. Green Pages – if you are looking for an alternative to plastic straws, this is a perfect solution. They specialise in compostable paper straws that are both easy on the planet and our eyes.


What have we missed? Comment below and let us know of any other Lankan brands that support the environment and ethical sourcing.