Sustainable Grocery Shopping
There are many ways to be environmentally responsible when shopping for food. Here are a few tips.
Bring Reusable Shopping Bags
Americans use approximately 100 billion single-use plastic bags each year, which accumulate in landfills and waterways and never truly decompose. Some states have banned disposable bags, but many still permit them. Come prepared to the grocery store with reusable bags to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Shop the Perimeter
Food packaging and containers make up 23 percent of landfill waste. Shop around the perimeter of the store as much as possible to find the freshest, healthiest foods with the least amount of packaging, such as produce, bulk items, dairy, fresh fish and meat. Bulk items like nuts, dry beans, coffee, tea and grains can be purchased in exactly the amount needed with no packaging.
The average American wastes about 21 percent of the food they buy, which equates to about $1,800 a year. To avoid overbuying and shrink the carbon footprint of multiple shopping trips, plan meals a week (or month) ahead and come with a shopping list organized by the sections or aisles of the store.
Shop Local and In Season
Local produce has a drastically smaller carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables that must travel long distances by truck, airplane or ship. Buying local, in-season produce reduces waste because the produce is fresher when purchased and will not spoil as quickly at home. If the family’s diet includes meats, choose pasture-raised, grass-fed products from farmers that practice regenerative organic agriculture, which improves the quality of the land and maintains local ecosystems.
Choose foods that were produced with the environment in mind by looking for the following labels, seals and certifications:
• USDA Organic
• Biodynamic (BDA) for food produced without
chemical pesticides or herbicides, using organic,
• Non-GMO Project Verified for foods that were not genetically engineered
• FAIRTRADE Mark and Fair Trade Certified for food producers committed to reasonable wages and the safe, fair treatment of workers
• Climate Neutral Certified for food manufacturers committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions
• Safe Catch for sustainably caught fish
• Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and
Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) for sustainably farmed seafood