6 Ways To Shop More Sustainably
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Thinking about adopting an environmentally friendly life can feel overwhelming.
It seems there is so much to do, which takes time, effort and money. Then there’s conflicting advice – what are the most important things that make the real differences? And what about greenwashing – how do you avoid it?
The truth is, the journey to leading a more eco-friendly life can start with the small everyday things. The habits that we have in our daily routines might not seem like they will take a lot of work to change, but it can take a lot of effort to remember to keep up the changes until they become your new habits. So start small and celebrate your successes.
On my own journey of reducing waste, for example, I started with just one simple thing – I stopped using disposable plastic carrier bags. I say it was a simple thing, but even now, 16 years later, I can still rock up to the checkout sans reusable bag!
Creating new sustainable habits is essential, and we’ve seen in recent weeks how quickly the environment can become more healthy, once humans tone down their emissions and change their habits!
Food shopping is something that everyone has to do. No matter how many times you restock your kitchen every week, there can still be a lot of waste involved. The sustainable shopping survey shows that many people support sustainable products, locally sourced goods, and environmentally friendly packaging. Some supermarkets are changing what they do to make things more sustainable, but there are still things that you, as a shopper, can do. By just focusing on this one area of life, there are ways to shop more sustainably:
Take your own bags
In the UK, there is now a charge for plastic bags to encourage people to bring their own bags to the supermarket. The bags that are sold are also now likely to be ‘bags for life.’ This has reduced the amount of waste produced from plastic bags, but people still buy them, and the ‘bags for life’ are still often made out of plastic.
Although ‘bags for life’ aren’t the most sustainable option, they can be used time and time again. Taking them with you when you do your shopping, instead of buying new ones, will reduce the amount of plastic waste that you produce.
As I mentioned above, it may take you some time to remember to bring the bags with you when you go shopping, but if you store them near your front door, or keep them in your car, it should soon become a habit to bring them with you.
Don’t use the produce bags
In the produce section of the supermarket, there are usually bags that you can use to put your loose, fresh produce in. Some of these bags are plastic, and paper bags have replaced others. No matter the type of bag, you should question whether or not you actually need to use them.
If you are bringing your own bags with you, you could have a dedicated bag that you use for your fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if you don’t, you will usually wash your fruits and vegetables before you use them, so it won’t do any harm to forgo the disposable bag. In fact, it will help you to reduce waste. You might even be able to challenge yourself to shop without plastic waste.
Buy local produce
If you have a local market or farm shop close to your house, it could be worth going to look at the types of things that you can buy. Buying fresh fruit, vegetables, and other produce locally is great for the environment but also has benefits for you too. Less transport is needed to get the produce to where it needs to be, so the carbon footprint is smaller. You also know who your money is going to, and are helping to support your local community. Not only that, but fresh fruit and vegetables from a local market will be in season, so the produce that you get should be cheaper and full of flavour.
Many people tend to overbuy when they go shopping. This is because different foods can be tempting, encouraging people to impulse buy. Overbuying means that there is a lot of food that goes to waste. Throwing away food is not only bad for the environment, but it is also a waste of your money. One way that you can prevent overbuying is to meal plan.
Meal planning encourages you to plan out your meals for the week in advance, so you only have to buy the things that you need to make those meals. That way, you don’t end up with excess food that could end up being wasted. Once you have made a list of what ingredients you need for the week, it is worth checking what you already have at home, as there may be things that you don’t need to buy. Before you know it, you’ll be wasting less food and saving money on your shopping bill.
Reduce your meat consumption
Meat production releases a lot of harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. By reducing the amount of meat you consume and buy, you can help to reduce the impact on the environment. This impact can be reduced further if you aim to make food from produce that you purchase locally.
Reduce car usage
It is normal to use your car to go to the supermarket as they can be far away and difficult to get to. It is also easier to put your big food shop in the car to transport it home than it is to carry it. There are, however, ways that you can reduce how often you use your vehicle.
If possible, you could walk or cycle when you only need a few things. If the shops are too far away, try to do bigger shops so that you don’t have to go as frequently. You could even carpool with your family, friends or neighbours, so that you are reducing the amount of pollution being put out into the air.
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