Our environment is impacted by every decision we make. This includes where we shop, what we purchase, and what our products are packaged in. With every trip to the store or farmers market, we are influencing the demand for those products. Here are the top simple 5 ways you can make buying your groceries more sustainable and better for the environment.
Shop at local Farmers Markets
Depending on where you live, you might have more access to farmers markets, or farmers markets might only run for a couple of months each year. Take advantage of whatever access you have to fresh, healthy food at your fingertips. Produce that comes from farmers markets is often treated with fewer chemicals, and it reduces food miles while supporting local farmers. Food miles are how far your food has to travel before it gets to you. The farther it travels, the more Greenhouse Gases it emits through the energy it takes for transportation and keeping things cool.
I know what you might be thinking…farmers markets are too expensive for me. I understand that, but if you go towards the end, you might get some pretty great deals on produce that people are trying to get rid of. Farmers markets often provide items other than just produce as well. For example, if you buy some local honey, some say it can help you fight local allergies. If you don’t know where to start, you can use this website to find a local farmers market.
BYOB to the Supermarket
In case you are wondering, I don’t mean that you should bring your own beverage to the store. I’m talking about bringing your own bags. One person bringing reusable grocery bags can prevent hundreds of plastic bags from entering the environment every year. Bonus points if you also bring your own produce bags. Every step is important and makes a difference, but filling a reusable bag with 10 produce bags seems a little strange. Since some stores now charge for paper or plastic bags, this is an easy way to save money. Protect marine life and other ecosystems from plastic and bring your own bags. If you forget your bags, put your items in your backpack, purse, or just carry them out with your hands. Learn more about why you should switch to reusables here.
Purchase less meat / animal products
Animal products, specifically meats, are relatively expensive. Replacing meat with other sources of protein and nutrients can save you a good amount of money. I eat an almost vegetarian diet that relies on nuts, seeds, beans, and the protein that is in all food to get the nutrients I need. It can seem like eating fresh fruits and vegetables is expensive, but it is fairly affordable when you cook it yourself and limit your meat intake. Since I stopped buying meat, I have seen my grocery bill decrease dramatically. Plus, this reduces your ecological footprint greatly. You can calculate your ecological footprint if you’re interested in learning more about it. Here are some great vegan restaurants if you like to eat out a lot.
Make a list before you go
I am definitely guilty of grocery shopping on an empty stomach, and let me tell you, it’s a mistake. I come home with junk food and ice cream that I didn’t need. If I don’t plan what I’m going to cook/eat for the next week, I usually end up with the same products which makes it hard to get a variety of food in. The easy meals I make tend to get old, so it’s important for me to think about what I want to make if it’s different.
Writing a list helps you save money so that you don’t buy unnecessary items, and it also prevents food waste. While food waste is a much bigger issue than just the individual consumer, it’s still very important to prevent wasting food as much as possible. When food goes bad or is not used for some reason, it wastes the money you spent on it, the water and inputs it took to grow it, and the energy it took to process and/or transport it.
Choose items packaged sustainably
Pick food that is packaged in paper or cardboard over plastic. If you have access to any stores that provide food in bulk, bring your own containers to fill up with nuts, dried berries, snack mixes, spices, and staples like rice or pasta. Every time you buy something, you are voting to have more of that product available. We, as consumers, have the power to change how things are packaged and where things are sourced from.
There are many different things that you can do to make your grocery trip more sustainable. These are just a few to get you started. Comment below what you do to make your groceries more eco-friendly and affordable! Remember that every little thing you do makes a difference.
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