I am transfixed by sustainability. I’m listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos on gardening and Zero Waste living, natural beauty and reducing carbon footprints every single day, lately. I show no sign of slowing down. Because I work in homes and much of the energy we use and the waste we all create is centered in our home, this year, you’ll find loads more sustainability strategies that I’ve been able to implement on the blog. In the blog’s redesign, it’s going to be a feature.
Taking this leap from “eco-minded” to “extremely green focused” over the last ten years has been liberating, creative and even some of the most abundance-making of decisions in my life.
Groceries are a big category of many of our lives, so today let’s explore many doable ways to make sustainable, Earth-friendly voices while food shopping.
Eat more plants: Of course, if you are vegan, it’s the best for the planet. Going vegan is a way to drop your carbon footprint (ie: the amount of energy used to create your food and power your life) by 70% of more. That is major. While I’m not fully vegan, I am 80% plant based now and that was a gradual move. Start with one meatless meal a day and see how creative you can get with veggies! What started as a creative exercise has multiplied my health and energy dramatically while reducing my carbon footprint just as much!!!
Eat locally grown food: During the transportation of food to grocery stores, potent Co2 and fossil fuel emission are released into the atmosphere. The shorter the amount of travel time for this food, the less emissions that are released. Support your local farmers, and shop more frequently at farmers markets. This is fun, its a community activity, you’ll get to know local farmers and grocers and you’ll have more connection to your food, which is energetically powerful.
Buy food that is in season:When food is not in season in your area, it will have to be transported from places far away. Again, sustainability includes lessening the travel time for food to reach grocery stores, which will reduce harmful emissions. Also, produce that is not in season can sometimes grow in greenhouses, where a lot of energy is used to recreate ideal growing conditions. Learn what types of produce are locally grown in your area, and what time of year it grows. Being aware of what fruit and vegetables grow at what time of year will help you design your grocery list to be more sustainable. Incidentally, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating seasonal food is critical for wellness.
Buy organic: Organic produce is grown without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers and other substances that are harmful to the Earth. Organic farmers also restore their soil naturally, using methods such as composting and crop rotation, so the land is re-fueled and not stripped of nutrients. It’s not just about avoiding pesticides— it’s also about supporting farming practices that replenish the planet!
Bring your own bags: Each year Americans bring home 100 billion single use plastic bags. You can reduce the amount paper and plastic waste you produce by using reusable shopping and produce bags, made of either nylon or recycled material, when doing your shopping. I often forget, so now I keep two trips with of reusable bags in the trunk my car, so I have weeks to remember to load them back up!
Politely decline a receipt. Before your grocer begins tallying up your bill, you can let them know you will not be needing a receipt. This is just a small gesture, but the amount of receipts tossed in the trash daily adds up. Also, while getting tea and coffee locally, not only do I bring a mug, but, also, have the receipts emailed to me at many local spots if I need them.
Avoid individually wrapped food. 60 million tons of paper, plastic, and glass packaging are thrown away in the U.S. every year. This type of packaging contributes to the waste produced. Even when you’re grabbing produce in the store, avoid those plastic bags and just select your produce and have it weighed without a bag.
Buy in bulk: Buying in bulk is a great solution to cutting down on individually wrapped food products. Instead of buying packaged food that will either end up in a landfill or have to go through the energy consuming process of being recycled, bring reusable bags to fill with grains, nuts, cereals, snacks or pasta.
When you bring these products home, you can reuse glass jars to store them in. If you would like to bring your glass jars to the grocery store to fill, politely ask your grocer if they can weigh your jar first, before you fill them food, to get the correct price and weight.
Not only is this awesome to save tons of money and reduce plastic waste immensely, all these jars can look very smart in your cupboards!
Fresh food versus processed food. Buy food with less additives. Food products that are heavily processed, colored or flavored contain harmful additives and require a lot of energy in their production. Buying fresh food reduces energy consumption. Watch YouTube videos or Food Network TV shows to learn cooking techniques that can awaken the chef in you!!! 99% of the food I have now is cooked completely from scratch, and it’s always an adventure!
Grow your own herbs. Among the easiest herbs to grow at home are: basil, mint, thyme, oregano, parsley and rosemary. You can start these by seed, but it is far easier to purchase plants that have already sprouted. You can sit the plants near a window that receives 6 hours of sunlight a day, and in a pot that allows for drainage. You can place a saucer underneath the pot to collect excess water.
You can also grow: sprouts and micro greens!
Watch out for coffee pods. These are usually not environmentally friendly due to their intense manufacturing process, as well as the single use waste they produce.
Some companies do make compostable pods, but these cannot be tossed in your backyard compost pile or in your local compost bin. They will need to be collected by, or brought to an industrial composting company.
There are also reusable pods available for Keurig and Nespresso machines, which will reduce the amount of waste these machines generate.
The most eco-friendly option though, to making coffee at home, would be to buy loose, ground coffee and use a French press – they do not use electricity and there are no paper filters or plastic pods to throw away.
Avoid Palm Oil.
Palm oil can be found in many food products including, pizza doughs, chocolate, ice cream, margarine, some vegan cheeses, instant noodles, cookies and packaged bread. It can also be found in soaps, shampoos and lipsticks.
Oil palms grow best in tropical areas that are also rich with peatlands, rainforests and endangered species. These areas are being cleared at an exponential rate in order to grow enough oil palms to meet their rising demand. Estimated by the World Wildlife Foundation, an area the size of 300 football fields are cleared each hour in tropical rainforests for the production of palm oil.
Deforestation releases carbon into the atmosphere and is a large contributor to global warming. The process of clearing forests requires burning forest undergrowth which creates a lot of smoke to be released into the atmosphere. The peatland soil is rich in carbon and when this land is cleared, carbon is emitted .
Palm oil production endangers many animals living in these regions. Removal of rainforests threatens the biodiversity of these ecosystems. Many animals are losing their homes, especially Orangutans and Sumatran tigers. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years, we lose 6,000 orangutans a year and there are now only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the world.
These powerful decisions can (and, I believe, will!) change the world for the better.
Making even one more of these choices when grocery shopping can have a massive impact!
There are infinite ways to cut down on waste and shop smarter for your groceries. I would love to hear all of your tips, too!