With Earth Day coming up on April 22, we start to realize how crappily we treat our planet and how lazy it was to toss a water bottle in the trash instead of walking 10 more steps down the hall to recycle it. Hop on the environmentally aware bandwagon and give your planet some love with these food-shopping tips that will make your groceries a little greener. Better yet, make them a permanent change to your routine for a lasting effect.
1. Buy in bulk
Individually wrapped snacks and drinks might be convenient, but all that extra packaging can take a toll on landfills. In 2012, Americans used nearly 14 million tons of plastic for containers and packing. If you think that’s excessive, you’re totally right. To make matters worse, only 12 percent of the type of plastic used for bags and wrappers were recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For nonperishable items, avoid excess wrappers by stocking up with as many as you can. Bonus: Bulk items tend to be cheaper, and it will mean fewer trips to the store in the long run.
2. Choose glass over plastic
While glass is easy to recycle into new glass, recycling plastics usually involves mixing different kinds into a lower-quality hybrid plastic that can’t be recycled again, according to Michael Braungart and William McDonough in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. If given the option, buy glass jars instead of plastic ones. Looks like hipsters have the right idea buying their Coke in glass bottles.
3. Bring your own bag
Paying for a reusable bag at checkout might seem like a waste of money in the moment, but it’s a one-time investment that you’ll be thankful you made. As of 2007, Americans used about 100 billion plastic bags per year, and those bags took up a lot of space in landfills. Replacing three of those little bags each week with one big tote will keep more than 150 bags out of the trash every year. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement — a cute new spring tote for you, and one less plastic bag cluttering up good ol’ Mother Earth.
4. Buy locally grown foods
When produce has to travel across oceans to reach your grocery store, it wastes fuel during transportation. Locally grown goods don’t have to travel as far, so they use less fossil fuels and don’t create as much nasty pollution. Check out the UMD’s Farmer’s Market, which is in front of Cole Field House every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for some tasty produce, meats, baked goods and more. You’ll support local vendors, and your stomach will thank you for not eating a buffalo chicken wrap from the Diner for the 50th day in a row.
5. Carpool with friends
Sure, your roommate might always take forever deciding which Ben & Jerry’s flavor to buy (Is it a Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz! kinda night, or should we go all out with some Chocolate Therapy?) but taking the same car to the grocery store means fewer cars are on the road. Plus, everything is more fun with friends, so make your grocery shopping a social event and pretend you’re doing something more exciting than errands.
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