10 Easy, Eco-friendly Choices to Make at the Grocery Store

10 Easy, Eco-friendly Choices to Make at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping can sometimes seem like a chore, but it’s also one of the best opportunities to make small, eco-friendly changes that can have a big impact. Follow these ten steps below to green your groceries.

Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless Steel Containers

1. Buy in bulk

While it may seem easier to get individually wrapped snacks and beverages, that convenience is adding to the over 60 million tons of paper, plastic, and glass packaging thrown away in the U.S. every year. So instead look for products with the smallest amount of packaging. Items like pasta, soap, chips, and juice can be bought in bulk then repackage at home in reusable containers you can throw in the cupboard, a lunch bag, or the freezer.

2. Avoid pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables

Almost every piece of factory farmed produce will have some chemical residue on it, but some foods are worse offenders than others. The most pesticide-heavy fruits and vegetables include berries, tree fruits like apples and peaches, and leafy greens like spinach and kale, so be sure to buy these fruits and vegetables organic to keep dangerous chemicals off your dinner table.

3. Go reusable

Every year Americans bring home over 100 billion single-use plastic bags, most of which eventually end up in landfills or in the ocean. Help keep plastic out of the waste stream by bringing reusable bags to the store. Also stay away from plastic produce bags and instead pick up some reusable mesh bags.

Reusable Mesh Bag

Reusable Mesh Bag

4. Chose eco-friendly packaging

Look for products sold in recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging. Opt for glass, untreated paper, or plastics labeled #1 or #2 (the two most commonly recycled plastics) and stay away from any materials that cannot be easily recycled in your area. Also look for compostable containers made from a bioplastic like PLA or from natural fibers like bagasse.

5. Buy local

Support small farms and reduce the amount of energy it takes to transport food to your table by buying local, seasonal goods. Find a farmers’ market in your area or look for grocery stores that carry locally-sourced produce and meat.

6. Don’t waste food

Studies estimate that Americans throw away between 25% and 40% of the groceries they purchase. This is not only a waste of food but also represents a waste of other resources like energy and water. Cut down on the amount of food you discard by planning your shopping trips in advance to avoid buying more than you need.

7. Buy fair trade

You can ensure the quality of your food and the quality of life for the people who produced it by buying certified fair trade products. Workers will have been offered a fair wage for products and services, and most fair trade certifications also include provisions for ensuring sustainability of production methods.

8. Go organic

Industrial farming relies on a range of environmentally-damaging practices that pollute local communities and destroy the balance of natural ecosystems. When possible, look for USDA certified fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats that were produced using healthy, sustainable methods.

9. Stay to the outside

Make your diet healthier by avoiding the aisles packed with processed foods and instead stick to foods like produce, dairy products, eggs, and meat that are usually located on the sides and in the back of grocery stores.

10. Check the labels

There are lots of organizations that provide certification for organic, sustainable, and free trade products, so familiarize yourself with the labels that can help you make the best green choices at the store.

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