July 20th, 2020
Here at Ecotone we have dedicated ourselves to solving the issue of food waste and have made it our mission to lower the emission of greenhouse gases from food waste through our Seahorse system. As we have discussed before, food waste breakdown is a huge contributor to the world’s greenhouse gas problem and there are steps you can take to reduce your footprint in this area. While your food waste is massively important to improving the health of our atmosphere, it is just as important to pay attention to your food from the beginning of their life and your point of consumption. Certain ingredients and types of food can be a major player in perpetuating the climate crisis. Here are a few tips on a how to be a conscious consumer on your next grocery tip.
- Pass on Palm Oil. The use of palm oil has escalated dramatically in recent years, finding itself in almost every facet of your life from health and beauty products to a majority of snack foods. It has been a replacement for oils and shortenings that are higher in trans fats. Palm oil has become so pervasive because it is tasteless and colorless and as a consumer, we see no difference in our products. Unfortunately, however, the planet has seen an extremely dangerous difference; palm oil production is one of the top drivers of deforestation, especially our coveted rainforests. In order to keep up with rising demand for palm oil, massive portions of forested land have been cleared to grow oil palm trees. Preservation of our forested land is imperative to fulfill any attempt to reverse the climate crisis and save our planet, as they act as enormous carbon sinks, drawing the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere into the leaves for photosynthesis. Next time you peruse the snack isle or hit the beauty department for personal hygiene products, take an extra second to look over the label for palm oil, and do your part and avoid it at all costs.
- Buy Local. The benefits of buying local stretch far beyond the environment, including supporting your local community and economy, and for your own interest you know where your food comes from and how its been grown. In this case, I’m specifically talking about produce because it can have a pretty big footprint. For certain produce items, like avocados that almost exclusively come from Mexico, California, Hawaii, and Florida, if you don’t live in these states, and especially if you live in the Midwest or the upper East Coast, you’re using a lot of energy and resources to bring that one little avocado across the country to your grocery cart. Unfortunately for any Midwesterners or members of the northern states, tropical fruits are probably not the most eco-conscious items on your grocery list. Buying from your local farmers market or produce stand can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of your produce, so if you’re dying for some guac, the footprint of the avocados might not be as bad if everything else came from the stand down the road.
- Be Prepared. Going to the grocery store with a game plan can be a game changer for your wallet, your time, and the planet, and the first rule of grocery shopping is never go hungry. If you go with a major craving or empty stomach you might be less inclined to check in the ingredients for palm oil, or pretty quick to grab the prepackaged dinner. Don’t get me wrong, prepackaged dinners can be a life saver on occasion, but a key part of green grocery shopping is paying attention to the packaging. A huge way to reduce your packaging is cooking everything yourself. That way, instead of buying a container of stir-fry that’s in a plastic bowl surrounded by shrink wrap then sold in a box, you can buy pasta in a cardboard box, sauce in a glass bottle, and vegetables with no packaging! If you can limit your consumption of boxed meals, you’ll be doing the planet and probably your wallet a big favor. Something else that has fortunately caught on is reusable grocery bags which is great progress, but its also important to remember that produce by no means needs to be in those little plastic bags. As long as you wash your fruit and veggies when you get home, there’s no issue with just placing them right in your cart. If you’re buying loose green beans or prefer to have your produce in bags, you can use reusable mesh bags, which have become extremely accessible within the last year. If you forget your reusable bags or COVD has your grocery store prohibiting them, then always opt for the paper bags. And lastly, if you have the option, skip the receipt; it’s not on normal paper and cannot be recycled.
If you plan ahead and a make a conscious effort with your groceries, you can absolutely make a positive impact on the planet with what you decide to purchase. Remember, every penny is a vote for the kind of future you want, so vote with your dollar for a greener planet.