You’ve all seen that line of pre-made green juices and juice smoothies at the grocery store, tempting you to check them out. With their fancy marketing labels and nicely shaped plastic or glass bottles you see that the juice seems innocuous, and yet you don’t like the idea that they’ve been sitting in the grocery store refrigerator—you’d rather make them yourself, and yet, you don’t have the money for a high-speed blender or slow masticating juicer. What do you do? You chuck one or two cold-pressed green juices in your basket and feel good about your purchase. But, should you feel so good about purchasing a usually overpriced bottle of juice even if there’s wheatgrass and sprouted kale in it? Well, you’re in luck. We here at One Green Planet want you to be a smart, conscious consumer, so this goes out to all of you who want to reap the benefits of green juices and smoothies but who just don’t have the money to make them fresh.

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Let’s break this down into five considerations.

1. Brands

There’s numerous brands that make green juices and smoothies that you can grab right off the refrigerated shelf: think BluePrint, Naked Juice, Evolution Fresh, and Suja. These companies all make juice for you, but you may want to assess their ethics and where they get their produce prior to buying. For instance, Naked Juice just got over a class-action lawsuit for false advertising, and Starbucks is now stocking Evolution Fresh juices instead. We don’t want to demonize any of your preferred brands, nor are we delegating which ones are best. We simply want you to be more conscious of what you’re really paying for.

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2. Pasteurization

The process of pasteurization is what matters the most. Raw juices are the best, and it’s always preferable to drink juices immediately after they’ve been made, but that’s not an option sometimes. We’ve dissected juice claims, in this article already, but the bottom line is go for cold-pressed if you need your juice because no nutrients are lost and there’s a short (3-4 day) shelf life.

3. The Juice Itself

Commercial, bottled, green juices seem like a good idea, especially if they have superfoods inside them that you wouldn’t otherwise get, but without the fiber, these juices just spike blood sugar levels, triggering more insulin to flow through your blood. But, drinking green juice is better than not eating vegetables at all, though, according to Dr. David Katz, of Yale University Prevention Research Center.

4. Cost

So, should you be buying those green juices on your tight budget? A 16 ounce bottle of kale and apple juice can come anywhere between three to eleven dollars. The markup on these juices is considerable, and to be honest, if all you’re getting is apple juice with a hint of kale, it’s better to just eat the kale and apples whole. Or, just make your own juice at home for under $5 per serving. A bushel of kale is $2-$3 and a whole bag of apples (six apples or so) is around $4-$5 if you buy organic. Juice you make at home is guaranteed to be fresh and a much better way to spend your money. If you find an exotic juice (think filled with camu camu, algae, maqui berry, and superfood ingredients of that ilk) that is cold-pressed and less than eight dollars, then buy it as a treat every now and again because you have to admit, juice really is delicious!

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5. Waste

Buying up a ton of commercial green juice may be quick and easy, but what do you do with all those bottles? Well, first and foremost see if you can purchase green juice in a glass container rather than a plastic one. Glass is less taxing on the environment, and it doesn’t leach chemicals into the product it’s containing. Plus, you can’t be sure that they’re composting the juice pulp, another side of waste we don’t think about. If you made your own at home, you know you could compost it, or even multi-purpose it again in other recipes.

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Bottled juices are a fantastic way to raise the amount of nutrients in your diet. If you don’t have a juicer, an occasional green juice is a perfect way to stay hydrated. We’ve considered different brands, pasteurization practices, the actual juice, cost, and waste associated with these commercial juices. If you find a reasonable juice brand that cares about the environment and you can easily recycle the containers, then go ahead and indulge in these juices.

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