During a simple trip to the grocery store, you make hundreds of decisions that can have real environmental impacts. With just a few easy changes, you can make a positive difference in the world.
- Instead of regular aluminum foil or plastic wrap, purchase recycled aluminum foil.
It uses just 1/20th of the energy needed to produce regular foil.
- Look for items without extensive packaging.
Most food packaging material uses some petroleum-based plastic. There are several ways to cut down on the energy and waste this produces. Look for minimally or unpackaged items instead. Experiment with bringing your own packaging or buying in bulk. Purchase brands that use bio-based instead of petroleum-based plastic. Recycle or reuse packaging materials you end up having to buy.
- Bring a cloth bag to the grocery store instead of using its plastic bags.
An estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. That's 1 million bags used per minute. And, according to the EPA, more than 380 billion of those are discarded in the U.S. Less than 1 percent of those are actually recycled. Instead, these bags will clog landfills, create litter, choke streams and harm marine wildlife, like whales, seals and sea turtles.
- Buy local and organic.
Buying seasonal, locally produced food helps in a number of ways. Most food travels 1,500 miles from "farm to fork." But buying local food drastically reduces the energy spent on food shipping. Local goods also tend to use minimal packaging, are fresher and come in more varieties. The best way to track down local food is at your local farmers markets or through the Community Supported Agriculture department. Farmers who grow produce organically use less fossil fuel and release fewer greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Organic farming is better for the land, for the farmers, and for the consumers.
Published on December 15, 2006