By Lisa Van Orman Hadley
Looking for ways to celebrate St. Patty’s day? It doesn’t take much to get your green on next time you’re planning a trip to the local grocer. Just add these five tips to your shopping list:
Paper or plastic? It’s a tough call. Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels. Paper bags are made from trees. Paper bag production creates 70% more air pollution than plastic, but plastic bags create four times more solid waste.
The best answer? Choose neither and bring your own bags to the store. Fabric totes not only better the earth, but we think they look classier, too. For more info on the plastic/paper debate, see here.
Organic or local? Organic farms often use less energy and produce less waste than traditional farms. But sometimes organic food travels more miles than non-organic to get to you. In addition, the organic industry is rigorously regulated, meaning that it’s sometimes too much work for small farms to get certified—even though many of them use the exact same methods as organic farms.
The bottom line? If you can find (and afford) organic, local product, that’s great. But if you have to choose one or the other, I would go for local. It’s fresh, doesn’t travel far to make it to your kitchen, and often comes from smaller family farms with better farming practices (read less pollution) than corporate farms. See both sides of the debate here.
Green cleaning and paper products. A lot of recognizable brands are starting to listen to consumers and are coming out with greener products that are also relatively cheap. Clorox, for example, now has a green line. And let’s talk about toilet paper for a minute. Recycled TP has come a long way—I can’t tell much of a difference in softness and texture.
DIY snack packs. Ever noticed how much excess packaging comes with everything? One of the biggest culprits are the pre-portioned 100-calorie snacks. You can still practice portion control while saving the earth! Buy a larger bag of your favorite snack and measure out a serving size into several reusable containers. Not only will you get rid of the extra packaging, but you’ll also save a lot of money.
Meat. One of the biggest impacts we can make at the grocery store is in the meat department. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said last year that the international meat industry emits more greenhouse gases than transportation at a whopping 18%. Even replacing one meat entree per week with a vegetarian one can have great benefits on the earth. See more here.
We’d love to hear your ideas on reducing your carbon footprint at the grocery store, so comment away!