The physiological need to eat to sustain life drives us to search for food that can satisfy our hunger. Sustainable eating, however, starts with making a choice to buy groceries that are produced with the least amount of plastic pollution and carbon footprint.
#1 – Sustainable, Zero-Waste, Grocery Stores Near Me?
Look for grocery stores that offer package-free produce, bulk food, and home goods. Food can be sold in bulk where you would have to bring your own refillable containers. An example is Precycle, the first store in New York aiming to address the growing problem of plastic pollution by empowering customers to make convenient choices reducing food and packaging waste. On the West Coast, Sprouts, along with other grocery stores such as Rainbow Grocery and Alameda, provide zero-waste bulk purchases.
#2 – Subscribe to Sustainable Zero-Waste Grocery Services
Grocery services that are delivered in packaging that is durable and with multi-use designs help to reduce plastic waste significantly. Loop is a shopping platform designed to eliminate waste in partnership with major brands and retailers such as Unilever, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble. Additionally, the Wally Shop works with local stores and farmers markets to provide the freshest, most organic ingredients. The same modus operandi remains for zero-waste grocery services: all-reusable packaging and same-day delivery, making ordering groceries sustainable and convenient. Once the customer has received their package, they simply return the packaging to a courier making a future delivery, and get a deposit back as a store credit, creating an incentive for recycling the packaging.
#3 – Opt For Seasonal Foods
When you buy locally grown produce, you eat with the seasons. Since these types of food do not travel from afar, fuel emissions and transportation costs are kept to a minimum. Additionally, buying local produce helps support your local farmers. To explore seasonal foods in your area and support your community, visit a farmers market, or join community-supported agriculture.
#4 – Recycle the packaging that you cannot avoid
Some groceries may not be available in a zero-waste manner. However, you can often still recycle this packaging. The next time you consider buying food storage or other containers, consider reusing the packaging that has been provided with your groceries.
#5 – Understand Food Labels
Being able to read and understand food labels will help you to grocery shop sustainably. You can look for labels that are third-party certified, such as Animal Welfare Approved, Humane Certified, Food Justice Certified or Fair Food Program. One of the most widely available certified labels is USDA Certified Organic. When you buy organic, you are refusing to buy groceries from industrial agriculture that maximizes crop yield through energy-intensive farming practices and synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, at the expense of the surrounding environment.
#6 – Bring Your Own Bags
Leave a reusable bag in the bag that you use daily. If you do forget your bag, you could get a paper bag rather than buying other BYO bags. Recyclable shopping bags are meant to reduce waste, not increase the amount of waste.
#7 – Choose Green Groceries
When you purchase green groceries – fresh fruits and vegetables grown for the market – you are making a healthier choice since such unprocessed foods do not contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and other additives. When you make soup with fresh vegetables rather than relying upon canned or packaged soup, you know what goes into your soup. Using fresh ingredients promotes improved health through nutrient boosts. Any type of processing such as canning, freezing, or drying deteriorates the nutrient, fiber and flavor quality of the food.
#8 – Have more Whole or Ancient Grains in your Diet
When you purchase green groceries – fresh fruits and vegetables grown for the market – you are making a healthier choice since such unprocessed foods do not contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt and other additives. When you make soup with fresh vegetables rather than relying upon canned or packaged soup, you know what goes into your soup. Using fresh ingredients promotes improved health through nutrient boosts. Any type of processing such as canning, freezing or drying deteriorates the nutrient, fiber and flavor quality of the food.
#9 – Save Money and Reduce Food Waste
There are tech innovations helping grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries reduce food waste. A Danish app, Too Good to Go, connects consumers and businesses to purchase items that may soon expire at a steep discount. This prevents the waste of delicious, fresh food from going to waste at cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops, and supermarkets. In 2021, Too Good To Go launched in Philadelphia in February, Washington, D.C. in March, and San Francisco in April, with further plans to be in many of the largest U.S. cities by the end of the year.
#10 – Create A Meal Plan
When you plan and shop for a whole week’s worth of dinners, it reduces food waste when leftover ingredients from one meal can be used for another. Once you have selected your recipes, you shop for ingredients and prepare them ahead of time. You can also use Eat This Much, a website that helps to determine your customized meal plan to ensure sufficient nutrition in your weekly meal plan.
#11 – Label What You Have in the Fridge
Label everything that you have in the fridge. This not only prevents you from buying too much at the grocery store, but also ensures that you are aware of the expiry dates of your food to avoid waste.
Grocery shopping is an inherent part of our lives. The fresh ingredients we buy at the supermarket play a huge part in sustaining us, and in turn, our actions should not harm the environment. Conscious living thus starts with us taking a more active role in the activities that we often take for granted, and that includes grocery shopping sustainably.