It seems like pretty much everything is fraught with environmental guilt these days. Weekly food shops are no exception. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Here are our top tips for making your food shop more environmentally friendly.
Buying from local producers not only boosts your local economy, it also reduces your food miles, slashes your carbon footprint, and makes a stand against big, environmentally-damaging agribusinesses. What’s not to like?
Organic farming practices are much better for the environment than more conventional methods. Organic food may be a bit more expensive but, honestly, the price difference isn’t huge. If you have a choice between organic and non-organic produce, the planet will thank you for choosing organic.
Bring your own bags
We all know by now that disposable plastic bags are horrendous for the environment. Bringing your own (reusable) bags is a great way to drastically cut the amount of plastic you’re inflicting upon the planet.
Avoid cotton totes
Following on from the above point, do bring your own bags - but try and avoid those cotton totes they sell by the armful at supermarkets. Strange though it may seem, reusable plastic bags are actually better for the environment than the cotton variety. Why? Because the amount of water and land needed for cotton production is seriously bad news, ecologically speaking. We know it seems weird, but the scientists have done the maths and it turns out that you have to reuse your cotton tote bag thousands and thousands of times before it equals the environmental performance of a reusable plastic bag.
Leave the car at home
Everyone’s talking about reducing plastic, but going car-free is way, way better for the environment than pretty much anything else you can do. If you can’t go fully car-free, you can at least reduce the amount that you use your car. OK, it’s not always easy to do a big food shop without a car to get the stuff home…but do consider walking or taking public transport if it’s feasible. Or even get your groceries delivered – one delivery van going around your neighbourhood is way better for the planet than all those people driving individually to the supermarket.
Think about food miles
It’s not just emissions which make food miles such a bad thing. Produce which has to travel a long way is often treated with planet-harming preservatives and transported in single-use plastic containers. The shorter the distance your food has to travel in order to get to your plate, the better. Check the labels to find out where your groceries hail from.
Buy what’s in season
Buying what’s in season locally makes it a lot easier to reduce your food miles. Seasonal produce also needs a lot less artificial egging on than stuff grown out of season. Less energy, chemicals, and food miles are generally involved in producing seasonal foods, all of which boosts their environmental credentials.
Buy less meat
We’re not saying you should go totally vegan, but reducing the amount of meat in your diet is one of the best things you can do for the planet. Chemicals, land usage, and waste products from livestock farming are all ecological bad news. In fairness, fruit and veg farming aren’t brilliant for the planet either but – as we’ve gone through above – it’s easier to reduce the environmental impact of agrarian farming than it is that of livestock farming.