This list will give you some ideas and simple substitutions to make each of your grocery shopping trips more environmentally-friendly!
If you’ve been looking for simple ways to reduce your environmental impact, looking at your food habits is a great place to start! Food is by far one of the biggest culprits of single-use plastic and excess packaging. And because this type of plastic and packaging is the norm, you may not even realize the amount of waste that’s created from your food and grocery shopping!
However, once you start to pay attention to your grocery shopping habits, you’ll have no problem seeing where you can make some eco-friendly improvements. This list will give you some ideas and simple substitutions to make each of your grocery shopping trips more environmentally-friendly!
1. Bring Reusable Shopping Bags
How could I write this list without mentioning reusable shopping bags? If you haven’t already hopped on the reusable bag bandwagon, now is the time! Bringing your own bags to the grocery store will save a ton of plastic bags from entering landfills. And if we’re being honest, reusable bags have tons of other benefits besides just being a replacement for plastic. For one, they’re extremely durable, and you’ll need way fewer than you would plastic bags which makes it easier to carry your groceries!
Most grocery stores carry reusable shopping bags for purchase, but if you want some ASAP, these are a great option from Amazon!
2. Choose Unpackaged Produce
Try to purchase unpackaged produce over packaged produce whenever possible. It can sometimes be more expensive (which I will never understand) but you can usually purchase better quality produce this way too. And I’m not talking just about single items like lemons and apples and onions. At our grocery store, we can purchase spinach, mushrooms, and lots of other things you wouldn’t expect in bulk! These are items we probably never would have noticed if we didn’t start being conscious about our options. You’d be surprised at what you can purchase without packaging – see what your grocery store offers on your next visit!
3. Bring Produce Bags
Grabbing those plastic produce bags for literally anything we pick up from the produce section has almost become like second nature. But the thing is, you really don’t need a produce bag for one red bell pepper. You don’t even need one for five red bell peppers! What’s the point – to keep them all together? It’s just not necessary for certain items. But of course, you can’t just plop handfuls of spinach into your shopping cart either. That’s where reusable produce bags come in handy.
It’s a good idea to have reusable produce bags on hand to bring along on your shopping trips with your reusable grocery bags, but there’s another simple alternative too! If you’ve got a whole bunch of brown paper bags shoved under your sink or in a kitchen drawer from (ahem) wine and liquor store purchases, bring them to the grocery store! They’re the perfect alternative to plastic produce bags for things like mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, spinach, etc. You can also use them for ripening avocados or peaches!
4. Use Your Own Containers
I’m lucky enough to live just a few minutes away from a local co-op where I can bring my own containers and get lots of my groceries in bulk. Things like rice, peanut butter, olive oil, and even spices! I realize that not every grocery store will have this option, but yours very well might – you may have just never noticed it! Whenever possible, bring your own containers (whether it’s tupperware or a leftover salsa jar) and get whatever bulk grocery items are available to you.
5. Choose The More Sustainable Packaging
Of course, no packaging is the best packaging, but there are some things you just don’t have a choice for. Or do you? You will almost always have a choice between different kinds of packaging for the same product, and you have the power to choose the more sustainable option! Here are some examples:
Choose glass containers over plastic whenever possible
Pick cardboard egg cartons over styrofoam because styrofoam is not recyclable
Frozen vegetable bags are not recyclable, so try purchasing veggies fresh or in a can
6. Cook More At Home!
Everybody loves a little convenience now and then, myself included! It’s so easy to pick up a pre-made meal from the grocery store or order delivery for lazy nights in. That’s definitely okay from time to time, but the packaging from those kinds of meals adds up fast. One of the best ways to be a more conscious food consumer is to cook your own food at home with fresh ingredients! I know cooking isn’t everyone’s forte, but swapping your pre-made meal habits even just once a week can make a big difference.
Ultimately, when it comes to reducing your environmental impact when grocery shopping, it comes down to your choices! And because making the better choice is usually (sigh) more expensive, it’s okay to start small!
Start by bringing reusable bags and swapping one or two items that you would usually purchase with packaging. Or, opt for a condiment in a glass container instead of a plastic one! Soon, these choices will become second nature and you’ll be able to gradually become more of a sustainable grocery shopper!