From shopping at the local farmer’s market to bringing your own produce bags, you can easily transition to sustainable grocery shopping. Sustainable groceries can mean shopping the discount produce that isn’t perfect but still good to eat. If you’re new to sustainable living, choose one or two of the ideas below for a simple way to get started. Each one of these ideas truly makes a difference in our environment. Let’s dive in!
Shop Farmer’s Markets
Shopping at your local farmer’s market not only helps you support local farmers but also reduces your carbon footprint. Rather than strawberries traveling by truck from hundreds of miles away, they are sourced locally. Also, most homegrown fruits and vegetables have fewer chemicals and pesticides helping you eat healthier.
Shop the Discount Fruit Rack
Most grocery stores have a discount fruit and vegetable rack where odd-looking produce goes. If a set of bananas gets a little too dark, they’ll go on the rack before the garbage. You can pick these up and make banana bread or smoothies. You’ll also find weirdly shaped potatoes, bell peppers, and even apples that are bruised. You can use these like normal produce but you’re saving on food waste. P.S. Shopping this rack will save you money!
Eating seasonally can be an easy way to bring sustainability into your grocery shopping. In the summer, opt for seasonal berries such as raspberries and strawberries. Also during the summer eat more leafy greens, watermelon, and asparagus. In the fall, opt for in-season apples for fruit. For vegetables opt for cauliflower and broccoli. In the winter months, choose root vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Eating produce that’s in season will help reduce your carbon footprint.
Bring Your Own Produce Bags
While shopping for produce at the farmer’s market, roadside produce stand, or in the grocery store bring your own produce bags. Those plastic ones available at the store are harmful to the environment and increase your waste. So instead, bring your own! There are tons of options but my favorite is the organic cotton mesh produce bags. These bags are so easy to store and wash up in the washing machine if they get dirty.
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Just like number four, bringing your own shopping bags can greatly reduce your waste. Instead of using paper or plastic grocery bags provided at the store, bring your own reusable ones. Some grocery stores are starting to give the option of bringing your own or using their plastic bags when ordering for pickup. Walmart has just begun giving people this option and I love it! They’ll bring your groceries out in tubs and pack them in your own reusable bags. My favorite option is the recycled cotton totes.
Store Produce to Last At Home
After bringing your produce home, make sure you store your items to last as long as possible. There are so many amazing food storage tips to reduce your waste. One of my favorite strategies is putting greens in water jars to store in the fridge. Items such as broccoli, herbs, and even asparagus can have their stems down in a water glass like flowers in a vase. This helps keep them fresh for longer. Another great food storage tip is to freeze any nuts you bought. They’ll last so much longer in your freezer.
Choose Whole Foods
When sustainably grocery shopping, choose whole foods without packaging. Think nuts, grains, seeds, fruits, and veggies. Of course, there will be some items you can’t get without packaging, but any minimization matters. One way to stick to less packaging is shopping the outside aisles of the grocery stores. That’s where you’ll find produce, nuts, and other whole foods.
Reduce Animal Products
Another sustainable grocery shopping tip is reducing the amount of animal products you’re buying. Eating a plant-based diet not only helps your body thrive but also the environment! If you’re new to plant-based eating start by doing 2-3 vegan meals per week and work your way up. Beans and lentils instead of beef on Tuesday taco nights can be an easy swap. Also, try making your own cashew creamer at home instead of dairy cream for morning coffee.
Shop the Bulk Foods Section
Shopping the bulk food sections at grocery stores can mean two things: shopping for large quantities or loose whole foods. Both can reduce your waste and help you shop sustainably. For large quantities, only buy what you’ll use every ounce of. For example, if your family eats tons of brown rice, grab a 5lb bag that you will use up completely.
For shopping bulk, loose foods you’ll find items such as nuts and seeds in dispensers where you pay by the pound. This is a great option to reduce waste and opt for whole foods.
Bring Your Own Bulk Food Containers
When shopping the loose bulk foods, don’t forget to bring your own storage containers. Many stores have plastic bags and plastic containers you can fill. The sad truth is, these plastics defeat the whole purpose of shopping the bulk section. Instead, bring a few Stasher reusable silicone bags.
Final Sustainable Grocery Shopping Thoughts
No matter where you live or what stores you shop, you can always reduce your waste in one way or another. From choosing beans instead of ground beef to eating produce that’s in season, you can bring sustainability to grocery runs. In the end, these sustainable strategies can save you money, reduce the amount of garbage you have, and even better your health.
It’s amazing what little actions add up to make a huge difference. If you’re new to sustainable living, choose one of these ways and just get started. Don’t let the complexity of this list overwhelm you. After implementing one way, you’ll find yourself doing another, and eventually, you’ll be able to check off the entire list. Next time you hit the grocery aisles, you’ll be prepared and empowered to sustainably grocery shop!