With Earth Day around the corner, I thought I’d share some sustainably shopping ideas with you.

Becoming more eco-friendly can sometimes seem like an all or nothing thing. Get an electric car. Install solar panels. Grow your own veg. Okay that’s great if you can do all that, but they’re not exactly realistic expectations.

So, let’s take something simple like your food shop and see what we can do to make your weekly supermarket trip more eco-friendly.

Use reusable shopping bags

I thought I’d start with the most obvious. A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to breakdown and that’s if the bag even makes it to landfill. Instead, a whopping 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the plastic bag made its way to the water.  

Taking your own bags to the shop and reusing them every week is one of the easiest ways to make your shopping trip more eco-friendly. But what if you always forget your bags? Leave a stash in your boot and pop them straight back in when you’ve unpacked your shopping. Once it becomes a habit you won’t even have to remind yourself to do it.

Try a refill store

Zero-waste and refill stores are popping up everywhere and even the big supermarkets are taking baby steps into the zero-waste world.

Things like grains, cereals and pasta come in single-use plastic. And although popping to a nearby refill store with your own containers sounds like a great idea, it can be a bit of a struggle lugging a few kilograms of pasta and cereal back to the car. That’s where reusable linen bags step in. They don’t take up much space when you’re not using them, and you can decant your zero-waste goodies into your glass jars when you get home. Win-win!

Plan your meals

You don’t need to be a super organised person to do this. All you need to do is jot down the amazing meals you want over the week. Open the cupboards and see what ingredients you’ve got, then everything you haven’t got makes it to the shopping list.

This is a great way to keep food costs down and reduce food wastage as you’re less likely to accidentally buy something you may already have three of in the cupboard!

Buy less

Have you ever done a food shop without writing a list and bought so much food you didn’t even need? Oh, and you forgot some of the food you did need so before you know it you’ve made a special trip back to the shops to stock up! Yup, we’ve all done it. And to be fair, we’re only human so from time to time it’ll happen.

Buying less goes hand in hand with meal planning, so once you’ve written your weekly shopping list you’ll only need to buy exactly what you need.

Buy local and seasonal

There are loads of reasons why buying local is better for the environment. But one of them I want to touch base on is food miles. Food from outside your local area will have been transported miles to reach your supermarket, and more food miles equals more greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere.

Buying seasonal veggies grown and harvested from a local farm is much better than importing from overseas. Seasonal vegetables grown in the UK taste better, they’re fresher and they won’t have trave lled so far to reach your plate.  

Eat more veggies

You don’t have to go full on veggie here. But processed foods and meat take a lot more resources than growing fruit and vegetables, especially if those vegetables are grown organically.

Organic vegetables are grown without the use of nasty chemicals as farmers use nets to keep bugs from spoiling their crops. Try swapping out a couple of your items in your basket with the organic alternatives and see if you taste a difference!

Check your plastics

Sometimes buying single-use plastic is unavoidable, especially if it’s needed to keep food fresher for longer.

HDPE and PETE products have a much better chance of making it to the recycling centre than other plastics mentioned in the list below. The characteristics and widespread applications of HDPE and PETE products make them easier to recycle and reuse.

So next time you need to buy something wrapped in plastic, check the small number inside a triangle on the packaging for the resin identification code.  

1.       Polystyrene (PS)

2.       Polypropylene (PP)

3.       Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

4.       High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

5.       Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

6.       Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE)

7.       All other plastics, including acrylic and nylon

Happy Shopping!