In this day and age, we’re bombarded by social media telling us to be more sustainable, to eat healthier, and to waste less. But is that really feasible for the everyday person? At first glance, busy schedules and availability of products seem like insurmountable obstacles. But the reality is that not only is it completely doable with a bit of organization but it is crucial for the future of our planet.
One of the easiest things to do to reduce your consumption is to buy items with the least amount of packaging possible. This is a double whammy because, in general, pre-packaged items are the least healthy and most harmful. Think about it-what’s better for you, some dried apricots from the bulk section, or some snack packaged Oreos?
Speaking of the bulk section, it is your best friend for all that is green shopping. Sure, use the plastic bags provided for your first couple of shops, but then wash them and bring them back for next time. It seems like a hassle, but those bags add up. If you must, do a test drive and see how many plastic bags you use throughout two weeks’ worth of shopping. You’ll be left with a small mountain, guaranteed. If the idea of washing out plastic bags grosses you out, bring your own jars, making sure to have the salespeople tar the weight first, and place your items in those. This method will also save you time when putting away your groceries. Hurrah for efficiency.
Now it’s true, not every grocery store contains a bulk section. But it’s worth taking a longer drive to the nearest health food store once a month to stock up on your staples. A good section will satisfy all your baking needs, along with your pulses, legumes, spices, and even sweets. Whole Foods, though more expensive than many supermarkets for many items such as produce, actually has an excellent bulk section where most things are more cost-effective than when sold pre-packaged.
So we’ve covered dry goods, but what about dairy and produce? Any well-stocked supermarket will have the option of purchasing vegetables and fruit pre-packaged as well as loose. Some even go so far as to sell you pre-sliced vegetables, which is just absurd. Is it really so challenging to dice your own tomatoes to throw in a salad? On that same topic, you lose a lot of nutrients by purchasing such vegetables that can also easily be passed their prime. So well done, you’ve chosen to buy loose produce, but what about the plastic bags you pack them in? Aren’t they just as bad as the styrofoam-cling film contraption from the packaged apples you were so wise to avoid?
The short answer is no because they can be rinsed and reused (see above) but also because they can be replaced. Let us explain: you can choose from your collection of small tote bags that you decided to purchase for a dollar instead of the twenty-five cent shopping bags and take those with you when you do your shopping. Let the cashier scowl at you while she has to open the bag to see what you’ve chosen. You did the right thing by bringing your own.
Dairy and eggs pose more of an issue because they will always come pre-packaged, but the best thing you can do is select cartons of eggs made of compostable materials and gallons of milk in a recyclable jug.
Well done, now you know how to grocery shop in the least wasteful way. Good luck from all of us here at Greeningz!