Sustainable living has become more and more popular in recent years. It seems as though most people now know what can and cannot be recycled, that it’s important to use reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones, and that eating a plant-based diet reduces the size of one’s carbon footprint.

Even though society is beginning to adopt sustainable practices, many businesses have yet to make large adjustments. I am no entrepreneur or environmentalist, but it was not difficult for me to come up to come up with some sustainable solutions that grocery stores could and should begin implementing ASAP. 

1. Buy in bulk with reusable bags.

Have you ever been in the bulk section of Whole Foods? If you have, you may have noticed the many dispensers and containers filled with food. Rather than buying a prepackaged item, customers get to fill a bag with as much as they want.

They even offer reusable bags for purchasing these bulk items. Grocery stores should sell all foods this way, because by doing so, they would eliminate the need for a plethora of plastic and cardboard packages.

Imagine all the cereal boxes and fruit containers that would no longer be needed. Cashiers would simply weigh the items you are purchasing and charge you based on weight.

2. Offer reusable produce cartons.

As someone who loves raspberries, I consume several containers each week. Even though a container of raspberries might be small, the plastic waste adds up. Rather than constantly throwing out or recycling these containers, stores should offer reusable plastic or glass cartons that customers can bring with them.

This also allows the consumers to choose the quantity of produce they want instead of being forced to purchase a certain size container. This will eliminate food waste. The cashier will weigh the produce and the customers will be only charged for what they’re going to eat.

To motivate customers to bring their reusable cartons, stores should charge customers for each disposable container needed.

3. Charge customers for using disposable bags.

Several states have proposed laws that would charge customers for using plastic bags. The goal of these laws is to motivate customers to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

The United States goes through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, each of which takes up to 1,000 years to break down in landfills. By simply replacing the small, easy-to-tear plastic grocery bags with larger, more durable reusable bags. Plastic waste will surely be reduced.

4. Only sell organic food.

Grocery stores should try to sell only organic food. Conventional farming uses many pesticides, which then seep into the Earth and kill the land and everything living in it. Your dollar is your vote.

The more organic food you buy, the more popular and profitable organic farming will become. Because of the increase in consumer demand, more farmers will choose to grow organic food and more companies will want to invest in organic farming. Plus, wouldn't you feel better knowing your potatoes aren't giving you any unwanted antibiotics?

5. Buy "ugly" fruit.

Many farmers know that people will not buy produce that doesn’t look absolutely perfect. Because of this, tons of high-quality produce is never picked, and even when it is, it isn’t purchased or eaten simply because of its appearance.

By buying the tasty fruit that may not look as appetizing, you’ll be eliminating food waste and you'll also be sending the message that it’s okay to eat the less attractive fruits and vegetables.

These solutions aren't particularly difficult to implement. If you want to see positive change to ensure the Earth has a long future, you can make some simple changes in your lifestyle.

As a consumer, you should buy in bulk, use reusable grocery bags, buy more organic food, and try not to avoid purchasing ugly produce.

Grocery stores should offer more bulk options, provide reusable produce containers, and charge customers for disposable grocery bags. By making these desirable changes, we can start to make sustainable practices a global reality.