Are you hurting the planet every time you run to the store to pick up your weekly grocery items? Although most shoppers don’t mean to, they tend to widen their carbon footprint. This is simply because grocery shopping can create a large amount of waste. In fact, it’s estimated that close to 15% of municipal solid waste is from packaging materials alone.
So how can you become a greener grocery shopper and lessen your carbon footprint? Here are a few easy ways:
Avoid Individually Wrapped Items
Modern people demand modern conveniences, but these conveniences are killing the environment. Instead of opting for individually wrapped groceries, buy the larger-sized packages and when you get home, divide the food up yourself into reusable storage containers. Sure it takes a bit more time but you’ll likely save money as well as the planet.
Buy in Bulk
Most chain grocery stores offer a bulk section where you can get things like rice, flour, cereal, nuts, and other dried foods. You’ll even find other bulk products like peanut butter, olive oil, and cleaning products in cooperative stores. If possible, take your own reusable containers in to really cut down on packaging waste. Buying in bulk is good for the environment, is usually cheaper, and also will save on gas as you will have to make fewer trips to the store.
Remember the Three Rs
It should go without saying that while shopping, look for packaging that is either reusable, recycled, or recyclable. Also, it’s a good idea to check with your local recycling program to see what material they in fact accept before deciding what packaging is okay for you to select.
Paper, Plastic… or Cloth?
There was a time when the question was paper or plastic, and the right answer was, of course, paper. But now the right answer is cloth, as in bringing your own cloth reusable bags to the store with you. Did you know that there are still over 1 trillion plastic bags used globally every year? And would you like to take a stab at how long it takes each one of these plastic bags to break down? If you guessed 1,000 years, you’d be right. That’s 1,000 years. And every year these bags end up in our oceans and drainage systems and harm our wildlife.
Don’t Mesh with the Environment
Speaking of plastic bags and how harmful they are to our environment, you should also skip over them in the produce aisle as well. Many people will bring a bag to avoid plastic during checkout, but then absentmindedly reach for one to put their apple in. A much better idea is to bring a reusable lightweight mesh bag to place your produce in.
Doggy Bags and Take-Out Food
If you really want to help the environment, bring your own reusable containers to restaurants with you. This way when you have leftovers, you will not have to use the restaurant’s Styrofoam containers to bring them home. Also, when ordering takeout, let the person on the phone know you will be bringing your own containers with you.
Becoming a greener grocer isn’t difficult. It’s really just a matter of commitment and then getting into the habit of doing it. If more people did this, imagine how much healthier the planet would be.