As if a trip to the grocery store doesn’t already require enough preparation: the meal planning, the list making and the label reading–we also need to consider the overall environmental impact from each shopping excurision. After having several conversations about the Suburban Smackdown with friends this past week, the topic of adding “green” (and I don’t mean money) to our grocery store trips kept rising to the surface. So in an effort to minimize the grocery store dilemmas of “this product vs. that product” and to reduce the carbon footprint of our endless grocery store visits, we have complied this list of 10 Ways to Green Your Grocery Trip. The good news is that by implementing these simple steps, your food choices will naturally improve, too. Going green and eating clean really do go hand-in-hand.
This list features some of our favorite re-usable items that are helping Amy and I make our way through the Smackdown Challenge. All of these items are available in our Amazon Affiliate store and while we do earn a small commission on purchases, your cost for the items is not affected.
- BYOB – We all know to bring our reusable bags, but the question is, do we always remember? Take it from me, a former frequent forgetter, if you love your reusable bags enough, you will remember. Since Amy gifted me with a set of My Eco Bags last year, I am like a little kid excited to take in my cool, new bags. MY ECO Reusable Shopping Bags are a zippered set of four bags. Just to highlight my favorite features, one bag has mesh pockets to hold glass bottles in place, another bag is insulated for those freezer items and the sturdy shoulder straps on all the bags are the perfect-length. Checkout bags aren’t the only bags to remember. Take your mesh Natural Home Reusable Produce Bags and steer clear of those clear plastic produce bags. If the unthinkable happens and your forget your bags, just remember that paper bags can be reused as Eco-friendly wrapping paper and plastic bags can replace small trash can liners.
- Buy local, seasonal, and organic, when possible. We realize this isn’t possible all of the time, but every time you do, you will be helping to minimize gas consumption, pollution and ground water contamination. Not to mention that local, seasonal, and organic foods usually have higher nutrient value and taste better, too.
- Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk allows you to buy whatever amount you need, minimizing waste. It’s also a great way to reduce the number of cans, plastic bags and other containers that go in your cart. Take it a step further and reuse your bulk bags or take your own BlueAvocado Re-Zip Bulk Bags to your next trip. To store bulk items at home and keep them fresh, Ball Wide-Mouth Mason Jars are a great pantry staple.
- Shop the perimeter of the store. Many food items around the perimeter of the store will have less packaging and are for the most part, better food choices. When buying packaged foods is a must, purchase the largest containers and skip the individual serving sizes. You can divide into individual servings at home when it’s mealtime or even place in reusable lunch containers, like Lunchskins Reusable Snack Bags and the Waste-Free Reusable Lunch Kit, for school lunches.
- Buy grass-fed meat and dairy and pasture-raised poultry and eggs. Conventionally processed meats and poultry use a tremendous amount of fossil fuels and water and are a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Buying grass-fed and pasture-raised will not only reduce those negative effects, but are healthier and more humane choices. Oftentimes you can meet the farmers and buy these items at your local farmer’s market.
- Look for packaging made with recycled materials. In addition to checking the package itself to be sure it is made of recycled materials, look for paper products like toilet paper, tissue paper, etc, made from recycled paper products. If every house in the United States used just one roll of recycled toilet paper, more than 400,000 trees could be saved.
- Reuse what you can’t avoid. Occasionally there are items you just have to buy packaged. Reuse what you can. Sauce and jelly jars make great bulk food storage jars and cereal boxes can be used as gift boxes. Bird houses and feeders can be made out of a number of different of drink containers. By the way, we believe you can never have too many suggestions on ways to reuse packaging, so if you have a clever use for old food/drink containers, please share in the comment section.
- Ditch the single use paper and plastic-wares. Their five minutes of use at a social gathering don’t come close to justifying the resources and energy used in their production or the harmful effects of the needless waste. It makes far more ecological and financial sense to buy items that can be reused over and over. Reusable sporks make great plastic-ware substitutes and they are two utensils in one! Win – Win. And check out the ThinkFLAT bowl; it stores completely flat, is a breeze to clean and weighs next to nothing. Not to mention it will be the talk of the town. As for the red solo cup? Give it up, too. We all must have twenty of the hard plastic cups that we have accumulated at parks and events over the years. Why not use those for your next gathering? And, since they’re all different there is no need to sharpie your name on the outside. Or, consider inexpensive drink size jelly jars as a durable alternative for all your casual entertaining.
- Plan ahead and consolidate trips to the store. With a little advanced meal planning and list making, you can visit the grocery store less often. This will not only cut back on gas use and pollution, but will save you money (because we all know something not on the list usually makes its way into the cart). We can’t really emphasize this one enough. Having a plan will save you so much time and money!
- Grow your own! Save yourself a trip to the store (or at least cut back) and grow your own food! It tastes better, too. The Tower Garden is what we use for patio to plate at our houses. This closed aeroponic system uses only about 10% of the water and 10% of the space required in traditional gardening. But whatever method you chose, homegrown produce is the cream of the crop!
Check out our post on how to Green Your “Back To School” for more ideas on living an eco-friendly lifestyle.