The Low Down On Green Living
January 28th, 2008
When you think about it, we support a pretty huge amount of environmental destruction when we shop at our local grocery store. We burn fuel getting there, we buy things wrapped in plastic shipped from all over the world, we create a steady stream of trash after we have consumed the items we bought– hey we may even bring home some toxic chemicals to spray around our homes! So there are plenty of ways in which we can all learn to reduce the environmental impact of our grocery shopping, and make ourselves healthier in the process. Here are 10 ways to get started.
1. When possible, go to your local farmer’s market rather than the big chain store. The farmer’s market offers primarily local produce, which means you won’t be buying blueberries shipped from Chile. And you can almost always find organic items, which means you are supporting chemical-free agriculture– that’s better for the Earth and for your health. Find a farmer’s market near you using the excellent site Local Harvet.org.
2. Buy as few things in plastic as possible– opt for metal or glass containers whenever you can. Plastic is made from a non-renewable resource (petroleum) and is often not fully recyclable (depending on where you live). Metal and glass, however, can be fully recycled almost everywhere.
3. Buy in bulk. Can you buy a big box of raisins rather than a lot of little boxes? Can you buy multiple servings of chicken and freeze some rather than buying lots of single servings? Remember that lots of little packages typically means lots of paper and plastic.
4. No surprise, bring your own shopping bags. To the question “Paper or plastic?” say “Neither.” Find reusable bags here.
5. Don’t use the plastic baggies for produce either– you can get great reusable mesh sacks for your greens. See them here.
6. When possible, buy organic and locally-sourced items. If you can’t get everything you need at a farmer’s market (most of us can’t), then try to do some reading at the grocery store. Can you buy food from your state rather than from across the globe? That means less fuel has been used to get it to you and less carbon has gone into the atmosphere. If your store doesn’t carry these items, tell them you want them to!
7. Buy less meat. Raising livestock is an incredibly resource-intensive process, and it also accounts for a very large part of our carbon emissions problem. To learn more about this issue review this United Nations report. Embracing a more veggie-focused diet is better for the environment and better for you health.
8. Cut down on disposables. Can you use a dish cloth rather than paper towels? What about cloth napkins? Do you really need to get paper plates for that BBQ? How about using a damp mop rather than a Swiffer?
9. Don’t buy toxic air fresheners and home cleaners. Do your family a favor and don’t poison them with chemicals. Find greener cleaners here. Or, better still, learn how to make your own non-toxic cleaners. It’s also much cheaper!
10. Finally, any chance you could walk or take your bike to the store? If so, you get a big green star! And an excuse to eat an extra cookie.
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