Earth Day is just around the corner, and each of us can take steps to protect our planet, including when we go food shopping!
Here are a few ways that to can be kinder to the planet on your next trip to the grocery store.
- Bring Your Own Shopping Bags: Each year, Americans use an estimated 100 billion plastic bags . Switching from plastic bags to reusable totes is a simple way to reduce the amount of plastic waste littering the ocean and planet. According to a recent New York Times article:“Millions of whales, birds, seals and turtles die because they mistake plastic bags for food or because they become ensnared in nets, packing bands and other items. Trillions of microplastic end up in the ocean, with seafood eaters ingesting an estimated 11,000 tiny pieces annually. Plastic fibers have also been found in tap water around the world; in one study, researchers found that 94 percent of water samples in the United States were affected.”
- Go Vegan: Not only does animal agriculture cause suffering for animals, it is one also extremely damaging to the environment. It is the leading cause of deforestation, the second leading cause of human produced greenhouse gasses, and contributes greatly to water pollution. By adopting a plant-based diet we can make a significant impact in reducing the amount of environmental damage caused by our dietary choices.
- Shop Local and Seasonal: Purchasing local produce that’s in season is a simple way to support farms in your community, and it significantly reduces the amount of fuel used to transport fresh produce. Local and seasonal produce is also fresher and more nutrient-dense. There are lots of guides available online to help you figure out what’s in season and how to find farms in your area.
- Use Less Plastic: Plastic can be found in so many of the items we purchase. Nearly 300 million tons of it are produced each year, and close to 90% of that ends up in landfills. One simple way to reduce the amount of plastic we buy is to shop in the bulk section at the grocery store. Bring your own mason jars, paper, or cotton bags when you shop. You can ask the cashier to weigh them in advance to ensure you’re only paying for the weight of the food you’re purchasing at check out. Learn more about shopping in the bulk aisle here.
- Plan Ahead to Reduce Food Waste: Recent studies show that in the US 40% of edible food is discarded each year, and the average American throws away about $2000 worth of food. Planning your meals in advance and making shopping lists so you only purchase the amount of food you need can be a simple step that will help you to cut down on food waste. If you’re new to plant-based grocery shopping, you can download this printable simple vegan grocery list to get you started!
(click image for enlarged, downloadable PDF)
Photos taken at Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op, a partner of VegWeek 2018.
Jessica Carter is the Vegan Food and Lifestyle Coach at Animal Outlook, an animal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Committed to making plant-based eating more accessible for everyone, she develops simple and delicious vegan recipes, she creates multimedia content for TryVeg.com, and coordinates collaborations with vegan brands to help people make more sustainable and compassionate buying choices. Her recipes have been featured on FOX45 Baltimore, Let’s Talk Live, and Good Morning Washington. She completed the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program in March 2019.