How to Shop for Groceries Sustainably

You may have heard about the impacts of plastic packaging, unsustainable food farming methods, and battery runoff in the environment. However, these details are easy to overlook when you’re strolling down the grocery aisle. While analyzing the cradle-to-grave impacts of a specific product might seem easy when reading an article like this, the task becomes increasingly daunting when you have a shopping list of 20, 30, or even more items. There are, however, easy steps we all can take to reduce our impact on the environment without having to crank out a calculator and a chemistry book. Just remember these 5 tips and you will be on your way to a far more sustainable grocery shopping:

1. Buy Food Without Plastic Packaging

One obvious way to shop sustainably is to buy food without packaging. For most shoppers, that will mean shopping in the deli, loose grain, fresh fruit and produce sections of supermarkets. As it happens, this is also where you’ll find the most healthful, nourishing, longevity-enhancing whole foods in any given store.

Buying food without packaging has a positive impact on the environment by eliminating the need for superfluous paper, plastics, and other products that will only end up as waste. And why not? After all, nature already packages most foods for us. We simply need to do our part in minimizing the packaging for other items to make a significant improvement in our waste footprint. Small  changes like using a reusable shopping bag or opting for the paper packaging help make a big difference.

2. Stick to a Plant-Based Diet Shopping List

Shopping for whole foods and plant based items — which can be carted home in your own bags, with no additional (wasteful) packaging needed — is one way to reduce your environmental impact. It’s also an extremely healthful way to live. A whole foods diet, including  fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, has been extensively documented to contribute to longer life and a reduced incidence of common so-called lifestyle diseases.

These include cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions. Consuming whole foods is linked to reduced overall inflammation. Inflammation is believed to underlie these and other illnesses, such as arthritis and even auto-immune diseases.  

Increasing the amount of plant based items you consume is also a great way to decrease your impact on the environment. Meat production is a very weather intensive process that also emits high levels of CO2, methane, and other harmful gases into the atmosphere. By limiting our food intake for just one day per week, however, we counteract the impacts of our meat consumption. For example, some estimates suggest that eating a plant based diet for one day each week reduces CO2 emissions equivalent to one day of driving!

3. Eat With the Seasons: Buy Seasonal Produce

However, there’s a caveat to plant based eating: Some items come with a hefty environmental-impact price tag when they’re not purchased in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables in winter, for example, tend to be shipped vast distances from distant lands, at a not-inconsiderable cost to the environment. Better to focus on eating with the seasons. That way, you can purchase local, sustainably grown foods. And these foods can typically be purchased without packaging.

Consider shopping — with your reusable bags in tow — at a local farmer’s market. That’s one way to gain access to some of the freshest, locally grown, in-season produce available. Rather than paying for shipping from across the nation — or from another hemisphere — your produce will have come from a nearby farm in the proprietor’s pickup, most likely. Letting the seasons dictate what you eat at certain times of the year is also a great way to expand your cooking skills and always have fresh dishes to try.

4. Avoid Purchasing Batteries in Store

Many household items now include subscription services, which help you maintain a steady supply of your favorite items. However, both stores and subscription services have a downfall: they require extensive shipping across large distances and often require different types of packaging throughout the process. The post-purchase experience is not great either, since you must find and drive to a battery recycling plant to dispose of your batteries correctly.

You may be wondering if there is a good way to buy batteries, and you’re not alone. Our team noticed that batteries’ sales and product lifecycle was not sustainable nor convenient, so we found a new way to do it. That’s how we came up with Better Battery Co.: An affordable battery subscription service that handles the shipping, recycling, and carbon-offsetting associated with your battery usage.  That way, we can power our world with positivity!

5. Look for Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

Stores are filled with any number of products featuring harsh chemicals and environmentally-unfriendly chemicals. Cleaning products are among the worst offenders. The harsh chemicals are not only bad for the environment, but your health too. The use of chemicals to clean the home has been associated with asthma attacks, skin irritation, and other ailments.

Look for gentler, more sustainable alternatives when shopping. You can also create your own homemade cleaners, which can be stored in reusable packaging and adjusted to your lifestyle, by following the guidance of trusted industry resources. Some well known gentle cleaners include:

  • Natural citric acid: Helps neutralize germs and cut through grime. It even removes hard water stains.
  • Plain white vinegar: This time-honored cleaning staple is an all-natural product that can be diluted to clean windows for a streak-free shine, and helps dissolve hard water mineral buildup (scale) on plumbing fixtures.
  • Baking Soda: This product is a rockstar for cleaning, lending itself to endless purposes around the home. It also serves as a powerful toilet cleaner when mixed with borax and vinegar -- ending the need for harsh bleaches and sprays.

As you can see, making just a few changes in your shopping habits can help ensure a safer, cleaner future for all. From a convenient subscription-based recyclable battery plan from Better Battery Co., to eco-friendly choices at the grocery store, it’s entirely possible to power your world with positivity.

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