Today is grocery day! Making your life more sustainable really starts here. There are a lot of little choices that you can make in order to have a more sustainable grocery trip. I’ll share a few things that I try to do and some things that I don’t do as often as I should. Most of them have to do with reducing the amount of plastic in your cart, which reduces the amount of plastic in your home, which reduces the amount of plastic in our oceans.
1. Have a meal plan.
I know, I know. Meal plans can seem boring or like a lot of work, but I guarantee your budget will thank you. Having a weekly meal plan ensures you only buy food you’ll eat, reducing the amount that ends up in the garbage. Wasted food also means wasted packaging. It doesn’t take that much extra time to do. Plus I always find that on the weeks I do a detailed meal plan, the time I spend grocery shopping decreases.
2. Opt for the least amount of packaging.
Instead of individually wrapped cheese sticks, get the block of cheese and slice up snack-sized portions. Buy meat at a butcher shop or in that section of your grocery store, where meat is usually wrapped in paper. Bring glass jars or paper bags to get beans and nuts in bulk.
Eggs have their own section for a reason. When you go to the grocery store, more often than not, you’re inundated with about a dozen different terms and labels. I read a good article on some of the differences between Organic, Free-Range, Cage-Free, etc., and the best thing I can tell you is to try to buy eggs from a small, local organic farm. I would love to have my own chickens someday, alas, that day is a long way from now. If I haven’t made it to the farmer’s market that week, I try to at least get organic ones that are in a paper carton instead of styrofoam.
4. Bring your own bags.
I primarily shop at ALDI where you must bring your own bags, so I’m pretty good this one. Try to find fabric bags that are made from cotton instead of polyester or vinyl. A lot of grocery stores now have recycling for plastic bags, so remember to save for them for the times you just pop in somewhere and forget to bring your own. Another note: I’m somebody who doesn’t like to bother people for things. Asking the cashier to use my fabric bags pushes me to the brink of an anxiety attack almost every trip, but no one’s ever rolled their eyes or huffed at me for asking. As a matter of fact, usually they see my bags and offer to take them before I even have the chance to ask.
5. Buy local.
I cannot stress this enough. Buying local has so many benefits. For the sake of being succinct, I’ll only highlight a few things. The closer your food was grown or raised, the less emissions were used in transportation. When you support organic, local farms you support responsible land development, increase biodiversity in your local ecosystem, and keep your money in your community. It’s a win-win. Try to find a farmer’s market and buy as much from your grocery list as you can. When at the store, check labels to see where your food came from.
6. Grow a garden.
What better way to save at the grocery store than by not going? Anything you can grow yourself is saving that much in emissions (farm->store->home) and packaging. Just a small patch of land can make a huge impact. If you live in the city or in an apartment, herb towers or small tomato plants are not difficult to care for, and you can grow them year-round. I believe in you!
What are some ways you reduce plastic and waste while grocery shopping? Comment below, and I’ll feature your ideas in a future post!