Seriously, who doesn’t want to be a greener version of themselves? When given the option, most of us would choose what’s best for the planet, even at a little extra cost, but somehow, even with the state of the world always deteriorating, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. Perhaps we just haven’t managed to come up with a good plan for getting green in the supermarket. It certainly can’t hurt.
In addition to there being many ways in which we, in our own homes, can make positive changes for the areas around us, many of our choices also have a wider global impact that we can’t see so immediately or directly. We can make choices that have a positive influence or purchases that encourage producers to opt for cheaper, more destructive routes rather than responsible ones. Going green in the supermarket helps us cause the changes we want to see.
1. Reusable Bags
Most of us with a mind to greenness have long adopted reusable shopping bags over plastic, or even paper, bags. This practice has become so typical that it has genuinely made a huge difference, with some places now going as far as charging a tax for or banning plastic bags. Another great step would be to start adopting reusable produce bags, instead of plastic ones, for our fruits and vegetables. A simple cloth bag works just as well and causes no waste. Or, just leave the produce loose.
2. Reduced Packaging
It’s time we start holding businesses accountable for using excessive packaging, as well as expressing ourselves as consumers who are buying what’s in the packaging rather than glued atop it. Go for glass jars over plastic. Go for reusable and recyclable over garbage. And, most of all, buy things that don’t require individual packaging: bulk grains, legumes, dried fruits, nuts, etc. You’ll be all the healthier for it, and so will the planet.
3. Forget Meat
It’s no secret now that meat production has a hugely detrimental effect on the environment. Not only are we grossly mistreating animals, but we are clear-cutting forests, using up fresh water supplies, and contaminating the water sources that remain. All in the name of meat! If we used the crops grown to feed livestock alone, it could feed four billion people. That’s without having to abuse animals or have feedlots, the sewage ponds attached to them, the water needed to hydrate the animals, and so on. Less meat consumption is a green choice. Find out how you can start, by checking out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.
4. Buy Goodness
Companies have clicked onto the new green niche, so we, as consumers, need to reward those efforts and encourage more of the same. We should buy products made from recycled or compostable materials. We should get biodegradable versions of cleaners and soaps and so on. We should respect organic, sustainable, fair trade products and learn about the companies who are participating in and promoting these projects. Sure, “greenwashing” might be a real thing, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t companies really working for the forces of good.
5. Avoid Negligence
It is much easier to shop blissfully unaware of what each purchase we make means on a grander scale, but as conscious green shoppers, we can’t do that these days. We have to know about palm oil production, GMOs, and animal testing. When we start holding companies responsible for their actions, when they feel it in profit losses, they will start to bend to our will, meeting the market demand for green, ethical products. If there is any doubt, looking at the plethora of food certification labels today.
6. Shop Local
Food miles is no longer a dirty secret of the supermarket. Rather, it is something we are now extremely aware of, and it’s important to act accordingly. Sometimes that means doing without certain things, only having stuff at certain times, or, at least, reducing their role in your diet. Sometimes it also means paying a little more for what you get. But, it also means a cleaner world, an improved local economy, and fresher food. Even if we aren’t making all of our choices on what’s locally available, we can make some of them, which will have a ripple effect.
7. Go Less
Most of us have to drive to get to the supermarket, which means that every time we take that trip, we are using the car, adding a little more pollution to the atmosphere and depending on a little more of fossil fuels. Instead, we could make weekly trips, or we could stock up on non-perishable items for the month and use the weekend to hit a farmers’ market for the good stuff. There is no need to go to a supermarket more than once a week. For walkers and bicyclists, do as you please.
Small Steps Add Up
It’s all the small steps that we make that add up to real strides in changing the world. Undeniably, we are seeing the result of that. When palm oil is a thing, manufacturers adjust. When plastic bags are a thing, supermarkets adjust. When animal testing is a thing, corporations adjust. If we tell them what we want with our shopping habits, we have the power to change the system. Supermarkets are greener than ten years ago, and we can keep them moving that direction if we just keep up the effort.
Image source: Sunrise POS/Creative Commons