Green Grocery Steps:
1. Assemble a Green Grocery Kit: Did you know that in the U.S. alone, we use 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create?(i) Avoiding the plastic bags from the store reduces pollution and saves money. Additionally, plastic pollution costs citizens in the taxes they pay for of the litter removal costs. These costs can total in the millions of dollars annually for cities such as Nashville.(ii) A solution is to purchase, repurpose, or create reusable bags/containers like those pictured.
2. Support your local farmer’s market. Shopping local cuts down on many different types of waste, such as transportation resulting in greenhouse gas emissions, and keeps your money in your community. The Nashville Farmer’s Market is the city’s largest local market and is open year-round and the spring season is just kicking off.
3. Shop with the Green Grocery Shopping Route in mind: When shopping, consider the route you take when you walk around placing food in your bag or buggie. For example, focus on selecting fresh fruits and vegetables which have the lowest environmental impact, and they are healthy for you too. Remember that minor imperfections and blemishes don’t render produce inedible. By not shying away from imperfections, you can help reduce the approximate 133 billion pounds of food wasted in America annually.iii Fresh foods are also not packaged, therefore minimizing the amount of waste. Avoid and decrease your selections of highly processed or packaged items. Use your own containers to contain non-refrigerated fruits and veggies, as well as baked goods. As you can see, the weight of such containers is negligible.
Apples in a reusable plastic container versus plastic bag.
Onions weigh the same in plastic as (clean) old pantyhose.
4. Try to buy only what you will consume before your next return to the store. In the United States, food waste is estimated between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This food waste is the single largest component going to municipal landfills helping make them the third largest source of methane in the U.S.iv Nearly 400 lbs. of food is wasted by the average American family each year!v
5. Get ready for a Green Grocery Checkout: Place bags and containers on the grocery belt and marvel as they whirl through the process and return to your shopping cart. Rehearse your checkout mantra that explains a peculiar looking shopping cart: “Just saving the Earth a little plastic.”
6. If you have forgotten your bags, ask a store attendant for a cardboard box. Often grocers have boxes that they will gladly provide.
Now that you have a Green Grocery Game Plan, get out there and enjoy the seasonal bounty of your favorite market knowing you’ve shopped sustainably too!
i Anderson, Marcia. (March 6, 2014). Confronting Plastic Pollution One Bag at a Time. EPA. Retrieved from: https://blog.epa.gov/blog/tag/plastic-bags/
ii MidAtlantic Solid Waste Consultants. (2009) Litter in America: Fact Sheet – Costs of Littering. Keeping America Beautiful. Retrieved from: https://www.kab.org/resources/end-littering
v Sahagun, Louis. (August 28, 2013). Report unveils hidden costs of litter cleanup for Californians. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/28/science/la-sci-sn-litter-hidden-costs20130827