What does “Going Green 101” say about grocery shopping? BYOB. That’s right. Bring your own bag.
And I have to say that people and stores alike are certainly taking this to heart. A few years ago, you had to look around a bit to find a reusable shopping bag. Now, they’re sold everywhere. And not just in grocery stores. Barnes & Noble, Target, and IKEA all have them. Many grocery stores also give you a small cash-back when you bring your reusable bags. Even better!
I’ve been using a beautifully mismatched set of reusable shopping bags for a couple of years now. I love responding to the “paper or plastic?” question with “I brought my own.” And it’s great to know that I just saved 5-10 plastic bags from spending 1000 years in a landfill.
However, until recently, this is as far as I’ve taken sustainable grocery shopping. I knew there was more I could do to minimize trash generation. I felt good about my shopping bags, but I felt terrible when I loaded up the plastic produce bags. Certainly, there must be a better way? I also didn’t like how much packaging I brought home. How could I reduce the plastic packaging that ended up in my kitchen trashcan?
What follows are some changes I’ve made recently to get me to the next level of sustainable grocery shopping. I hope you will find this list useful and that you will start making these habits your own!
- Don’t bag all produce. Some produce, like cabbage, doesn’t really need a bag. So don’t bag it!
- Use mesh produce bags. I had seen a package of mesh produce bags for sale at our local co-op a while back, but it took me months to get my act together and buy some. Why? I don’t know. Fear of the unknown, perhaps. Anyway, these are great! They are lightweight and see-through so they work just like plastic bags, except for the 1000 years in a landfill part.
- Buy food in bulk. I am just starting to get into this. So far, the item I buy most frequently in bulk is oats. To avoid plastic here, I bought some organic cotton muslin bags. I got this idea from No Impact Man. (Read the book. It’s pretty awesome.)
- Buy real food. I recently devoted a whole post to this, but it is worth bringing up again. Have you noticed how real food is scattered around the edges of the store and everything in the middle is more or less processed? Stick to the edges and you’ll end up with food that is better for you and better for the environment.
Here are a few links to sites where you can find mesh/muslin/shopping bags: