It has always been crucial to be good to the environment, but now more than ever Mother Nature needs our help. As humans, we consume much of the planet’s natural resources in ways that aren’t environmentally-friendly or sustainable. Making a few changes to your shopping routine can reduce the negative impact you can have on the earth significantly. Read on below for some practical advice on how to become more eco-friendly shoppers:
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1. Make an inventory
One of the easiest ways to become an eco-friendly shopper is to actually just buy what you need and consume that before heading out to the supermarket to replenish your stock. Making an inventory of the items, ingredients, and produce you already have at home will not only save you money, it also helps you save the planet and reduces overall waste.
Keep your inventory as a list on your smartphone for convenient access, and update it regularly so that you know what to buy when you head out, instead of traveling through every aisle and picking up things willy-nilly. You’ll be surprised at how much less food you’ll end up throwing away due to spoilage or expiration.
2. Support local producers
Whenever possible, hit the farmer’s market and buy local, seasonal produce. Buying local products reduces your personal carbon footprint by not contributing to the harmful greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere when these products are shipped or transported from their point of origin to the destination. You also support local growers and farmers who could really use a boost in their business.
Learn how to prepare dishes made with fruits and vegetables in season, which reduces your personal contribution to those aforementioned greenhouse gases and pollution. Simply not consuming ingredients that need to be shipped from the other side of the world is already a great help. You can also look into buying more organic food, which not only contribute to your overall health and wellness, but are usually grown without planet-damaging pesticides.
3. Take reusable bags to the store
There’s been a visible shift towards the use of paper bags lately, which greatly reduces the need for non-biodegradable plastic. That’s great and everything, but take it up a notch and carry some reusable shopping bags with you to put your groceries or other purchases in whenever you step out of the house. Again, this reduces waste, but it also lessens the need for trees to be cut in order to make the paper bags with.
If you absolutely can’t help but opt for those paper bags, though, keep them in good shape and store them in a dry spot instead of throwing them away. Used paper bags make for excellent garbage bag liners, provided you don’t throw away anything wet in them. If your local supermarket allows it, you can also bring your own freezer containers to store meat and other perishables in instead of the plastic bags the butchers use.
4. Opt for environmentally-friendly products
There aren’t a lot of products made out there that are perfectly environmentally friendly. However, keeping to a simple list of criteria can help you narrow down your options. A durable product means you won’t end up throwing it away anytime soon. It should also have minimal packaging, as packaging is essentially landfill filler – it serves no other purpose than to enclose your item. Finally, a product that hits the two Rs – reused and recycled – is also a more eco-friendly option than one that’s brand new and made with all new materials.
5. Consume less meat
The meat we consume commonly comes from livestock farms where animals are raised to be slaughtered. In most cases, the conditions in these farms are less than ideal and can border on inhumane—the animals are raised with maximum productivity in mind, meaning that they’re pumped full with antibiotics and chemicals to keep them healthy. They then expel these chemicals back into the earth as waste. Add that to the methane and all the gases expelled just to grow and transport both their feed and the meat itself, and you get a finite number: livestock accounts for 18% of greenhouse gases emitted. If you can, try to reduce your intake of meat products and supplement your diet with fruits and vegetables that are not only better for you, but are often a more sustainable option as well.
Putting the environment first means making a few personal sacrifices, but choosing to put up with these little inconveniences can go a long way in making the earth a healthier and safer place for everyone living on it.
What are your favorite eco-friendly shopping tips?
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