Supermarket Hacks: 5 Ways to Make Your Grocery Shopping More Sustainable
With the health of the environment decreasing, it’s in your best interest to minimise your own negative impact on the planet. And when it comes to your weekly grocery shop, there are many ways you can help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint.
You can start by being a little more aware about packaging, plastic, and knowing where the food you eat comes from. And if you choose organic or natural products and materials, this will not only help the earth, it’ll also benefit you and your family. You don’t have to go 100% organic or natural (although that would be great) but being a little savvier at the supermarket can do a world of good.
1. Swap plastic bags for eco-friendly bags
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t use conventional plastic bags:
- Millions of barrels of oil are used each year to make them.
- The average Australian uses 170 plastic bags every year, of which 150 million end up as litter, only 3% are recycled, and 200,000 are dumped in landfill every hour.
- More than 44% of all sea animals have ingested or become entangled in plastic, causing death.
- Plastic has been found in the flesh of fish that are caught for human consumption.
- The majority of plastic bags are non-biodegradable, which means they can’t be broken down by biological processes. This can cause air, water, and soil pollution.
So if you can’t use conventional plastic bags, what can you do? Well, for starters, fruits and vegetables have their own natural packaging, so you don’t need to put them in plastic bags. Just make sure to wash them when you get home. Or, you can use the following bags:
Reusable shopping bag or tote bag
Every time you go to the grocery store, bring a reusable shopping bag or tote bag with you. This will reduce your use of hundreds or even thousands of conventional plastic bags over your lifetime.
Biodegradable plastic bags
You can also consider using biodegradable plastic bags, which are made from plant-based materials such as corn and wheat starch. This means they can break down into natural materials (water, methane, carbon dioxide) in the environment without causing harm.
2. Choose produce based on what’s in season
Eating based on season has three benefits:
- It’s healthier – Fruits and vegetables that are in season have just been picked or harvested a few days earlier from a local farm. They also haven’t travelled for weeks from another country. This means they haven’t lost their nutrition, and also haven’t been picked early and then sprayed with ethylene gas to preserve them.
- It’s cheaper – Buying local produce costs less than buying food from another country. This is because the fruit doesn’t have to travel far to get to your supermarket, reducing transport and fuel costs from the final price of the product. Buying in-season produce also requires less human and chemical intervention, which means less associated cost.
- It’s environmentally friendly – The fewer kilometres the food has travelled, the less impact it’ll have on the environment in terms of the greenhouse gas emissions from the trucks, boats, and planes used to get it to the supermarket. In-season food also uses less energy when it comes to refrigerating, storing, and moving them, and they have no excess packaging.
Keeping these benefits in mind, here’s what you can buy from the grocery store to eat in each season:
- Fruits – Gravenstein apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, grape, mango, honeydew, rockmelon, watermelon, lychee, nectarine, Valencia orange, passionfruit, peach, pineapple, Bartlett pear, William pear, plum, raspberry, and strawberry.
- Vegetables – Asparagus, butter beans, green beans, bean sprout, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, leek, lettuce, mushroom, pumpkin, rhubarb, snow pea, spinach, spring onion, sweetcorn, tomato, turnip, and zucchini.
- Fruits – Aba apple, custard apple, avocado, banana, cumquat, feijoa, fig, grape, guava, kiwi fruit, lemon, lime, watermelon, nectarine, imperial mandarin, mangosteen, peach, nashi pear, papaya, persimmon, plum, pomegranate, quince, rambutan, and raspberry.
- Vegetables – Asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, borlotti beans, bean sprout, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, lettuce, field mushroom, potato, pumpkin, radish, snow pea, spring onion, sweetcorn, tomato, turnip, and zucchini.
- Fruits – Bonza apple, custard apple, gala apple, avocado, banana, cumquat, feijoa, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, navel orange, Seville orange, nashi pear, Josephine pear, persimmon, pineapple, quince, rhubarb, tamarillo, and tangelo.
- Vegetables – Bok choy Asian greens, bean sprout, broccoli, broad beans, brussels sprout, carrot, cauliflower, chokos, fennel, horseradish, kale, leek, lettuce, mushroom, okra, onion, parsnip, potato, silverbeet, spinach, snow peas, shallot, swede, and sweet potato.
- Fruits – Lady Williams apple, banana, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, grapefruit, honeydew, lemon, loquat, lychee, Ellendale mandarin, mango, mulberry, navel orange, blood orange, papaya, pepino, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberry, starfruit, tangelo, and watermelon.
- Vegetables – Globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, broad beans, green beans, bean sprout, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, daikon, fennel, leek, mushroom, peas, rhubarb, shallot, silverbeet, spinach, watercress, witlof, and zucchini.
Or, why not pick your own at these great pick-your-own farms in Australia?
3. Buy more environmentally-friendly toilet paper
Here are two reasons why shouldn’t use regular toilet paper:
- It’s made from virgin cotton fibre from trees that’s sprayed with chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. It’s also bleached with chlorine during the manufacturing stage. This exposes sensitive areas of your body to toxic ingredients.
- Its production puts a large burden on the environment. Thousands of trees are cut down every year to create toilet paper.
So if you can’t use regular toilet paper, what can you use? Consider the following toilet paper:
Natural and organic toilet paper
Both natural and organic toilet paper aren’t processed with or contaminated by toxic ingredients. They’re made from organic cotton and alternative fibres such as bamboo, which are biodegradable.
Pure Planet and Greencane sell natural and organic toilet paper.
Recycled toilet paper
Recycled toilet paper is made from 100% post-consumer waste, such as old office paper and textbooks. Using recycled toilet paper means you get to protect our trees and wildlife, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower landfill use. Plus, making toilet paper from recycled paper uses 50% less energy and 90% less water than making them from raw materials.
When buying recycled toilet paper, look for the following brands: Safe, Naturale, Quilton, Purex, Sorbent, Softex, and icare. These brands are Australian made and have sustainable practices. Also, choose recycled toilet paper that is in recyclable packaging.
4. Use environmentally-friendly nappies
Not all nappies are made equal. Some nappies are friendly on the environment and some aren’t.
Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t use standard disposable nappies:
- About one cup of crude oil is used to make each nappy.
- 3.75 million disposable nappies are used every day in Australia and New Zealand, which is a lot of landfill.
- They take up to 150 years to break down.
- Their production makes use of limited resources and contributes to global warming.
So if you can’t use standard disposable nappies, what can you do? Use the following nappies:
Modern cloth nappies
The modern version of cloth nappies have creative designs and are easy to put on and take off. They’re also more absorbent and smell less than standard disposable nappies. They’re free of harmful chemicals and plastics, and they’re easy to clean.
If you use one set of cloth nappies and wash them with cool water and then line dry them, it’ll cost about half as much as standard disposable nappies. You’ll save more money with every child as you can use the cloth nappies again and again.
What’s more, cloth nappies are environmentally friendly if you:
- don’t flush them
- don’t use fabric softener
- use biodegradable, phosphate-free detergents
- use a front-load washing machine (it uses less water)
- wash them in full loads on a cold cycle and then line dry them outside
- use them on another child.
Biodegradable disposable nappies
Biodegradable disposable nappies are made from a variety of materials that don’t include plastic. They use fewer chemicals than standard disposable nappies.
If you choose to use biodegradable disposable nappies, make sure to look for compostable or recyclable packaging too. And to reduce their environmental impact and flush solid waste down the toilet instead of putting it in the bin.
Finally, whether you choose cloth or biodegradable disposable nappies, buy locally to save on transport carbon cost.
5. Do food swaps
You can swap one food for another to reduce your impact on the environment and improve your health as well. Here’s a look at the foods you should switch over to as their production process is more environmentally-friendly:
- Swap asparagus for broccoli – Broccoli uses 256 litres of water per kilogram and asparagus uses 1,952 litres of water per kilogram.
- Swap rice for millet – Millet requires very little water, whereas rice is a very thirsty crop.
- Swap almonds for pecans or hazelnuts – Pecans and hazelnuts require much less water than almonds.
- Swap palm oil for sunflower or safflower oil – Sunflower and safflower oils are usually not genetically modified, and neither are they particularly water-hungry. But palm oil production causes relentless deforestation, threatening wildlife.
- Swap meat for legumes – Eating less meat and more legumes is healthier choice for you as it’ll reduce chronic diseases associated with unhealthy diets. It’s also healthy for the planet as it’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water and energy use associated with meat production.
- Swap conventional eggs and dairy for organic, humane and/or grass-fed eggs and dairy – Organic, humane and/or grass-fed eggs and dairy have the least environmental impact. They’re also more nutritious and carry less risk of bacterial contamination.
- Swap white for whole grain – Whether it’s bread or pasta, we know whole grains are healthier. But they’re also better for the planet as they require less processing, making for a lighter impact on natural resources.
- Swap goji and acai berries for local berries – Locally grown strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries taste just as good as imported berries and don’t require the resources used in transportation to get to your plate.
Ready to start going green?
Every small step counts when it comes to helping the environment we live in. Plus, you’ll save money and improve your health too. So if you’re ready to start going green at the grocery store, follow these simple eco-friendly shopping tips and make a world of difference.
Bellamy’s Organic is a range of organic food and formula products for babies, toddlers and young children, with over 30 products in our range from birth to early childhood. You can shop online or click here to find your nearest stockist.
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At Bellamy's Organic, we believe a pure start to life means providing your little one with uncomplicated nutrition – good food that is straightforward, wholesome & nutritious. Our pursuit will always be to provide pure food that nourishes the gentle tummies of the little ones in our lives.