In recent years, environmental sustainability has finally received the large-scale attention it deserves. While it’s true that governments and large corporations have the most power to create substantial changes, it’s still important to make eco-conscious decisions in our everyday lives, as well. For instance, shopping more sustainably at the grocery store is a great place to start. Between 30 and 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted, meaning it goes uneaten. Yes – that’s right, 30 to 40 percent! So, if you’re hoping to make more sustainable choices at the grocery store, but you aren’t quite sure where to start, here’s some expert advice to get you started on the right path.
Pack reusable bags.
Remember to pack your reusable bags every time you head to the grocery store. By bringing your own bag, you are helping to decrease pollution caused by plastic that isn’t easily degradable. Another pro-tip that goes hand-in-hand with this one: it’s also important to wash them between uses. Now, if you forget your reusable bags, opt for paper bags over plastic — buying more reusable bags that you don’t actually need will just create more waste in the end.
Plan big shopping trips.
Even if you have the time to grocery shop every other day, it’s probably not the best choice. Especially with the pandemic still in our midst, it’s best to shop less frequently. Looking at the eco-conscious side, the less frequent your trips to the store, the less gas you use. When people shop less, they are more likely to shop in bulk, which means there’s less packaging to throw away or recycle. Now, for some people, shopping once or twice a month maybe feasible, while for others, once a week might be more realistic.
Shift to plant-based foods.
You don’t have to go totally plant-based, but replacing some of the meat in your diet can help the planet. Plant-based foods are more sustainable because they have much less of an impact on the ecological system, as opposed to animal products. Not only do plant-based foods take less water to produce, but they also emit less methane and carbon dioxide – two harmful greenhouse gases – during production. Not to mention, livestock takes up a lot of space and can encroach on the natural habitat.
Fruits and vegetables that are locally grown are particularly good choices when you're trying to shop sustainably since they will travel shorter distances to your plate. Look for “locally grown” tags on produce at the grocery store or seek out pop-ups, farmers’ markets, or local food co-ops. The same goes for nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds might be a good choice if you live in the Midwest since this is primarily where they grow. Likewise, pecans might be the better choice for those living in the South to enjoy sustainably.
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