How to Reduce Waste: Eco-Friendly Shopping
Wrappers, packages, bottles, plastic bags, and cardboard boxes—there’s a lot of single-use waste involved when it comes to going shopping. Some of it is recyclable, such as your cardboard pasta box, but much of it isn’t—think of the plastic produce bags you put your kale in. Landfills aren’t getting any emptier, and thanks to rampant consumerism around the world, we are all producing a lot more trash. Plus, even when something is recyclable, it doesn’t mean that it actually gets recycled.
We all live on this planet and share some responsibility when it comes to reducing our footprint. One of the best ways to start living more conscientiously is with eco-friendly shopping. To make your next shopping trip more friendly, try these waste-reducing hacks.
- Use a Reusable Bag
Eco-friendly shopping rule No. 1: ditch the plastic bag! Plastic shopping bags are expensive to recycle and often make their way to the landfill, laying there for the next thousand years or so. Or, they end up in the ocean, threatening marine life. Collect your own stash of reusable bags and bring them with you every time you go shopping. Keep a few in your car just in case. And, if you forget your bag for some reason, opt for a paper bag or see if you can carry your items to your car without a grocery bag.
- Make Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags
The best thing about reusable bags—beyond their role in helping reduce plastic waste—is that they can be fashionable, colorful, and reflective of your personality. This is especially true if you make your own bags with fun fabrics. Extra green points if you make a bag out of an old shirt or another cloth item around the house that you aren’t using. Wondering how to make reusable shopping bags? You can find patterns at craft stores, or check out this simple tutorial.
- Buy In Bulk
Choose grocery stores that have bulk bins, and head to that section first. Cross as many items off your list as you can from the bulk section. You can typically find beans, nuts, candy, granola, rice, dried fruit, cereal, oatmeal, pasta, and more in a well-stocked grocery store bulk section. Buying bulk will save you money and reduce the amount of single-use packaging you throw away. Even better, bring your own reusable cloth bags and containers.
- Skip the Produce Bag
The bags you use to wrap your produce are just as wasteful as plastic grocery bags. For a truly eco-friendly shopping trip, skip the produce bag altogether and place your fruits and veggies directly into your shopping cart—you’re going to peel or wash them before eating them anyway. If you’re worried about your avocados and bell peppers rolling around in your cart, invest in (or make) a set of mesh reusable produce bags.
- Choose Less Packaging
When you’re shopping, opt for items that require less packaging. Pick your own apples and russet potatoes rather than the bagged varieties provided by the store. Choose loose carrots, spinach, and celery over packaged ones. Rather than buying packages of cookies, get large bags of sugar and flour—you may even find baking ingredients in the bulk section—and make your own from scratch. Buy larger containers (provided you can use it all before it expires) rather than small ones.
- Shop Seasonally and Locally
The trip your bananas and avocados made from South America to your grocery store was a considerable one, using plenty of the earth’s resources along the way. You don’t need to swear off produce grown in other countries, but be conscientious by trying to choose ingredients that are seasonal. Seasonal produce tastes better and is cheaper, and likely was grown closer to where you are. Take it a step further and shop local produce and products. Shopping locally reduces the carbon footprint of your food, and it helps your neighbors and the local economy.
Avoid Food Waste
About one-third of the world’s food is wasted. This means that all the resources that go into growing food—water, fertilizer, pesticides, plus the square footage to grow it and the gas and energy to harvest and transport it, go to waste. The greenhouse gas produced by wasted, rotting food contributes to global warming and climate change as well. Avoid food waste by planning ahead: plan your meals for the week and buy only what you need—avoid impulse purchases, and use the food you buy. Many vegetables and fruits can be frozen if you think they will go bad before you use them.
Care for Our Planet
There’s only one planet Earth, and we all have the responsibility to take care of it. Let’s commit to reducing our waste by practicing eco-friendly shopping.
Looking for more ways to live sustainably? Contact Spring Power and Gas for more ideas.