Grocery shopping: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. No matter the diet, we all have to eat and therefore, buy food. Keep reading for 7 ways that sustainable grocery shopping is possible, even on a budget.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bags!
Many cities now have plastic bag bans in place so, thankfully, plastic is not an option here. However, there are loopholes in these laws so that companies can provide extra thick bags made of plastic and label them as “reusable.” *Insert eye roll here* Paper bags are a better option. But the best choice? Fabric bags. And don’t forget to bring reusable produce bags too!
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is often more cost effective as well as more sustainable because it means less packaging. Many grocery stores have a bulk section where you refill bags of things like nuts, flours, and spices.
Buy Organic (Where You Can Afford To)
Shopping organic is more sustainable because it consumes less energy and emits less greenhouse gases. Read more about the environmental benefits of organic farming on the FAO website here.
I also understand that shopping organic may not be in everyone’s budget. I recommend prioritizing the Dirty Dozen. Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases this list of the 12 foods found to have the most pesticides on them. Buying the Dirty Dozen organic is a great step towards more sustainable grocery shopping.
Shop Seasonal Produce
Produce that is grown out of season is cultivated inside of a greenhouse. This uses more energy, creating unsustainable environmental costs. Otherwise, produce purchased out of season is imported, which can use extra energy to transport. Check out the USDA guide to seasonal produce here to see what’s in season when.
You may also like: Sustainable College Dorm Packing Checklist
Try to buy package-free! Lately I have seen things like peeled oranges wrapped in plastic. Seriously?! This goes along with bringing your own produce bags. Ditch the plastic and styrofoam and opt for cloth instead.
Shop the Perimeter
Shop along the perimeter of the grocery store. This means avoiding the processed foods in the middle. More processing means more energy used to make the product and these food items often use more packaging as well. Fresh food is also generally healthier than processed food.
Buy Less Food
Food waste is a huge problem in America. It is too easy to purchase an excess of food and then not be able to consume it before it goes bad. I am guilty of throwing out rotten produce more times than I care to admit. Be mindful as you grocery shop; meal plan, think about portions, etc.
So there you have it: 7 ways to make sustainable grocery shopping possible, even while on a budget! I hope that these tips are helpful. You got this! Sustainable grocery shopping will be the norm for you in no time.