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Getting green groceries means more than just taking them home in reusable bags. If you’re looking to reduce your grocery cart or basket’s ecological footprint, you don’t have to search any longer; we’ve got all the tips you need to get started right here with eight of the best green grocery basket guidelines ever. What’s more? They really aren’t that hard to start practicing today — no apps or downloads required.  All you need to know about green grocery shopping is that you are in control of what you purchase for yourself and/or your family — you. Don’t get swept away by marketers cashing in on trendy tag lines like “natural” and “free range” and even, at times, “organic.” Look at the ingredient labels, certification labels, and ideally, skip a lot of the food that even contains a label. Want to know more? Here are some more guidelines below.

1. Stick to the Outside Aisles

Have you ever noticed the outside aisles of supermarkets are always the ones with fresh or freshly prepared foods? Think about it: the bakery, the deli, the produce, etc. are all on the outside of the store’s parameters. Grocers keep the processed, packaged and typically less nutrient-dense foods in the inner aisles. The easiest way to start a green grocery shopping trip is to consider this and shop the outside of the store first, filling your basket with fresh foods that don’t require a lot of added labour or packaging.

2. Stick with Low-Processed Foods

Think about all of the people, ingredients and locations it takes to make a box of crackers or cookies. It’s a lot. Each ingredient has to come from somewhere — the more ingredients on the list, especially processed ingredients, means the more input required to “make” that “food.” Consider the difference in growing a bunch of carrots in one location and selling them down the road compared to the growing, milling, recreating, flavoring, baking and more that it takes to make a cracker. Consider then what it takes to raise, feed, transport, house and slaughter animals for food. All those duties add to the ecological footprint of what’s in your basket.

3. Ditch Added Packaging

Stop before you put those apples into one of those clear plastic bags! This step in your shopping is completely unnecessary. Instead of using more plastic that you need to, just place apples together on the till and wash well before eating — something we should all be doing these days, anyways.

4. Bulk Saves Money and Packaging, Too!

We can’t say this enough: buying in bulk is an awesome way to lower your ecological footprint! The best bulk items will come from organic bins and be easy to pack in bags or your own containers, if the store permits it. You can buy flours, pastas, cereals, grains, sugars and so much more from bulk stores. Most are expanding their organic options, too. Not convinced? Consider how much packaging, machine and/or human-power goes into boxing or bagging six portions of pasta. Now consider one bag or better yet, reusable container, holding that same amount of pasta.

5. Make Peaceful Plates With Plants

There’s no contesting the alarming rate at which the meat and dairy industries contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that affect Global warming. In plain words, eating plants requires less labor, less input, less output and much less death and suffering than eating animal-based products. Going plant-based for the planet is an awesome way to lower your grocery basket’s ecological footprint.

6. Say No to Conflict Crops

Conflict crops (e.g. palm oil) include those that contribute to mass deforestation and animal habitat loss, as well labor and human rights issues. Research the food you regularly purchase and eat; get to know who grows your food, where it comes from and what is added to it before it arrives where you can access it.

7. Steer Clear of Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides and other Chemical Coatings

Even vegetables require labor input, machinery, resources and tools in order to grow. All of these practices play a role in the food’s final sustainability rating. Agricultural practices that rely upon heavy chemical inputs and toxic ecosystem-disrupting methods are not green monster-friendly. Instead, visit your local farmer’s market, shop the local and seasonal discounts at local grocery stores or supermarket chains, and go totally green by growing some of your own food.

8. Everything Else that Matters

I know there’s more to your grocery basket than food. We all need shampoos, soaps, toilet paper and other personal products. Please, read the labels. You don’t need to buy cosmetics or personal hygiene products with chemicals in them; you certainly don’t want those washing down the drain into the waterways either. Luckily, there are cosmetic and pampering alternatives out there that really are natural, fragrant and efficient. With toilet paper, choose recycled and try to use the least amount possible.

If eight steps seems too much to tackle for this week’s shop, try even one at a time. However, know that these tips are multi-functional — they just so happen to promote healthier eating, as well. Take that into consideration when packing up your reusable bags this week.

Image source: Polycart/ Flickr