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How to Shop Sustainably at Target

“The big boys are coming, the big corporations, the big brands. They may be late to the party, but they are now aware that they have a big problem.”

-Andrea Reyes, founder of NYC Fair Trade Coalition

Although I try to support mostly small businesses, there is a certain allure to Target that is hard to ignore. My friend and fellow teacher, Andrea is a Target enthusiast and frequents the store weekly. We often joke that if she put on a red shirt people would think she worked there. So what is it it about Target? When I asked her she responded that the convenience is a huge seller. It’s affordable but also better quality than say, Walmart of Kmart. They also keep up with the trends of other stores.

Shopping sustainably at Target is easier than one may think. Target has made a lot of changes in recent years to improve the sustainability of their products and packaging. The company joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in 2011, which is a group of hundreds of brands, retailers, and suppliers that is working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of clothing and footwear products around the globe. Target has also partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council in its Clean by Design initiative, and Target is amazingly transparent when it comes to its supply chains. In fact you can view their entire global factory list on their website. Target has set many great goals for helping our planet, including eliminating plastics, using recyclable packaging, and providing products without chemicals. Target is making sustainable products mainstream, which is a great sign for the future.

Many of Target’s sustainability goals are set for the near future (think 2022), so they still have a long way to go. However, they offer many natural, eco-friendly products that you can purchase now as a sustainable alternative to other products you may be using.

What are the secrets to shopping sustainably at Target? First, come prepared. Bring reusable shopping bags to use instead of Target’s plastic bags. I keep my shopping bags from Athleta or reusable grocery bags to take home my Target purchases.

Second, look for the wellness icons target posts to locate natural products. Try to avoid plastics or look for products made with recyclable plastics and packaging. When selecting fabrics, look for certified organic cotton. Here is a more detailed guide with a look at a few of the many sections of Target:

Beauty

Target offers a large variety of natural beauty products, which Target states is free of all these chemicals. This includes makeup, fragrances, skin care, and more. My few of my favorite natural beauty brands are Shea Moisture, Pacifica, Burt’s Bees, Alba Botanica, Love Beauty & Planet, Zuzu Luxe, Pixi, Hand in Hand Soap, and Honest Beauty. You can find a natural beauty section in Target stores and online.

Personal Care & Hygiene

Target also offers sustainable solutions for personal care products like deodorant, dental care, hair care, soap, etc. Even organic tampons for those of you who are serious about your sustainable efforts. Tom’s deodorant and bamboo toothbrushes are among my favorite natural products.

Cleaning Supplies & Laundry

Whether you are looking for laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, or all purpose cleaners, Target has got you covered. Target offers natural cleaning supplies and household essentials by ethical brands like Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, Method, and Love Home & Planet. Meyer’s is my go to, but I’ve recently started trying products from Method and am loving it!

Coffee & Chocolate

In 2019 Target announced that it was joining the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, which works with producers and retailers to make more sustainable coffee. (You too can take the pledge to support sustainable coffee here!). Target pledged that its Archer Farms coffee will be fair trade by 2022. In the meantime, when you’re looking for coffee and chocolate at Target look for brands with a Fair Trade or Equal Exchange label, like Chuao Chocolatier, barkTHINS, Endangered Species Chocolate, and select coffee from Archers Farms.

Babies

Target has a large supply of natural and organic baby products. Look for companies like Burt’s Bees, Babyganics, Green Sprouts, and the Honest Company, just to name a few. Gerber organic cotton baby clothes and diapers and Naturepedic makes organic bedding.

Apparel

In 2018 Target signed onto the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which is designed to help the fashion industry come up with solutions to combat climate change. Target has also joined the Better Cotton Initiative and has set a goal to have 100% of its products sourced with sustainable cotton by 2022. I don’t know a lot about the sustainability of Target’s current apparel brands except for Denizen Levi’s. Denizen is a owned by Levi Strauss & Co. and has a “good” rating on the Good On You application. Denizen makes denim using certified sustainable cotton and traces all of its supply chain. Denizen makes one of my favorite pairs of high waisted shorts!

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