Going green has never been so easy.

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Are you trying to be more environmentally conscious when you shop? Are you hoping to get the businesses you frequent to adopt more sustainable practices? Both are easier than you'd think—and all they truly require is making or asking for a few small changes that have major impact. According to Marci Zaroff, the founder and CEO of ECOfashion Corp, these are the things you should feel comfortable requesting any business to change—plus, how to ensure that you're also doing your part.

woman grocery shopping reusable bags
Credit: Getty / LOUISE BEAUMONT

Evaluate your own routine.

While you should feel comfortable asking local businesses to make eco-friendly changes to their policies, there are things you can do before you even step out the door. "Join the movement to ban plastic bags," Zaroff says, who suggests carrying your own reusable shopping tote wherever you go. Just as important? Reading labels and shopping with an earth-conscious mindset: "Choose certified organic food, beauty, and fashion and home textiles whenever and wherever possible."

Support businesses who are already part of the change.

If you're looking to identify new places that are already making conscious choices, scroll through their social media profiles and websites to get a sense of their values. "Companies heading in the right direction will start setting strategic goals with environmental benchmarks while taking small steps on integrating (more) third-party certified products and brands," notes Zaroff. The gist: If your local deli is posting about how they plan to sell only locally-sourced meat by the year 2021, then they are probably already doing what they can to be more environmentally conscious—and, therefore, are more likely to say yes to new ideas that might push that plan along.

Formulate your request.

There are plenty of one-time requests you can make when you shop: Ask your favorite take-out joint to skip the plastic utensils, let your grocer know that you don't need a paper receipt, stop a cashier before they put your groceries into a plastic bag (and offer up your favorite shopping totes, instead), or give your transportable mug to your barista.

But if you want to ask a local retail establishment to change their policies altogether, Zaroff says to make your request online. "Comment on social media and on feedback forms and ask these stores for more organic and sustainable products [and practices]," she advises. And if these establishments adapt to your requests, make sure you support them—so others may follow suit. "Rally your friends and family to support companies, brands, and products that are doing well by doing good," she says, noting that it is all about positive reinforcement.

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