If you’re looking for ways to lessen your impact on the planet, the grocery store is a great place to start. What we regularly eat and how we get it to contribute greatly to our carbon footprint—and there are many ways, both big and small, that we can practice sustainability while shopping for food.
An attempt to immediately reach perfection will likely result in overwhelm. It’s perfectly okay (and even preferable!) to start small here, and increase efforts only when it feels manageable to do so.
A great first step is to take a look at your shopping list, and mark any ingredients that have an organic, plant-based, or packaging-free option. Also consider swapping out-of-season produce with something that is in season, like tomatoes for apples in a salad. Making simple changes will eventually reshape the way you look at eating and shopping for food, and set you up for better long-term success.
Training ourselves to be more intentional about the foods we buy—buying only what we need, and using everything we buy before it goes to waste—can have a profound effect on conservation. But it can also be difficult to put into practice throughout the week, every week. Plans change, food spoils, and good intentions can end in frustration. So again, start small: Make a shopping list, and stick to it—and avoid going to the grocery store when hungry, as this can lead to impractical impulse buys. Consider making larger portions of fewer meals, allowing for leftovers. Practice waste-free cooking techniques, like saving onion and garlic peels to make stock. Buy produce that can be used in multiple ways, increasing the odds that you’ll eat it all before it goes bad. Keep your pantry stocked with plant-based basics. Over time, these small steps can make a big impact.
Choose plants over meat.
Whether you’ve been living plant-based for years or are new to the reducetarian movement, you’re probably familiar with the reasons to eat less meat. One is that livestock requires a massive amount of natural resources that could be redistributed if we only decreased our consumption. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to substitute meat for more eco-friendly alternatives (like savory young jackfruit!) to recreate familiar recipes.
This is another one you probably know, but a reminder never hurts. Keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in your car, by your front door, or wherever you’re most likely to notice them on your way out so you’re never caught without.
Do some research.
We’re all super busy. Taking the time to thoroughly research the environmental impact of every product we buy is probably not a realistic goal. But we can still take small steps that will make a difference, like reading the ingredients list on packaged foods and opting for brands that have made a commitment to sustainability.