Do you want to lessen your impact on the environment, but you’re unsure where to start? Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of climate change and the ocean plastic crisis and are uncertain how you can help.
Get started by examining your daily habits!
No act is too small to make a difference in changing the world for the better. Even a simple task like eco-friendly shopping can tip the scales by influencing how the food industry manufactures and sells its products.
Here are five sustainable shopping tips to help you buy food more sustainably—in no particular order.
Shopping for food outside your local area means more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is because products are transported by boat, plane, or truck. And the further the distance, the greater the greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a 2017 study, the transportation industry accounts for 29 percent of GHGs in the United States.
Purchasing locally-made products will decrease the need to transport products over long distances. It will also help support regional growers in the farmers’ market. The product might even be more affordable.
Many local food products do not need extra packaging. This is because they are sold and bought at the source.
That means buying local food will be more sustainable. This is because you will not increase your plastic consumption.
In some cases, locating local goods can be a challenge. This occurs especially in regions with little to no farmland. But don’t worry if you lack access to regional products.
You can still choose to buy minimally processed foods that also help fight climate change, resource depletion, and plastic pollution.
Use Reusable Shopping Bags
One way to shop sustainably is to avoid plastic shopping and produce bags. For example, shop here for reusable shopping bags strong enough to hold even large loads of shopping.
Some stores may encourage you to bring your bag by refunding you or discounting a few cents from your total bill. This adds up to valuable savings over time.
The worst thing about plastic bags is that they are difficult to recycle. This is because plastic is a byproduct of oil.
When the oil price is low, there is virtually no market for plastic recycling. It thus becomes cheaper for manufacturers to buy virgin plastic than to recycle.
If you can’t avoid using one-time plastic bags at a grocery store, you may still be able to take your bag back to the store you purchased your groceries from.
Some retailers have recycling programs for used plastic bags. By doing so, you ensure that those bags do not end up in landfills, sidewalks, or the ocean.
Choose Fresh Produce
Do you want to shop for your groceries sustainably?
A great way to do so is to choose fresh food that hasn’t undergone the production process, like processed items. That means they have a smaller carbon footprint and require little or no packaging. Furthermore, they have more nutritional value.
Contrary, processed foods have the most significant impacts across various environmental aspects. Those aspects include; land use, water scarcity, and greenhouse gas emission.
To increase your impact, look for organic fresh foods free from preservatives and pesticides. They are beneficial not only to your health but also to the environment.
Some of the fresh foods you can buy include dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Also, you can decide to shop meat from local producers. But this can happen if you have concerns over the sustainability of meat production.
Know Your Sources
If you have no access to the local market, you can still shop sustainably by researching your food source.
You need to ensure that the product comes from a manufacturer with the best practices. For instance, you need to determine whether they use pesticide-free pest management techniques or uphold livestock ethics in their raising strategies.
When sourcing seafood, find companies that have environmentally friendly certifications.
Buy seafood from sellers using sustainable fishing methods. They should be implementing measures at the frontline to protect vulnerable marine species.
Knowing your sources is an excellent way of promoting accountability. You will also better understand how the food is being produced, thus encouraging producers to be more accountable.
Buy Seasonal Produce
Seasonal produce has the same environmental benefits as regional products.
The benefits of seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually attributed to the shorter distance they travel, contributing to lower emissions.
Some fruits and vegetables are produced in climate-controlled greenhouses, meaning less food waste and less land use. But the energy demand in these shelters is enormous and contributes to more carbon emissions.
Instead of importing them from a faraway country, buying seasonal vegetables will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Research shows that fruits and vegetables with the lowest GHH emissions are grown and harvested in their season. As a result, farmers and packers use the least energy, and the product is consumed within the same region or country.
Choose Eco-Friendly Shopping Methods
Eco-friendly shopping methods can help protect the environment.
Shopping for sustainable foods and products will help counter negative environmental impacts. This is due to pesticide use and the consumption of fossil fuels, among other factors. Using reusable bags that will not end up in landfills or waterways will result in a smaller environmental footprint.
You can also consider going organic and buying organic foods, toiletries, and textiles.
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