With the start of the new year, now is the perfect time to evaluate daily habits and pledge to make changes that lessen our impact on the environment. After all, the planet needs our help to protect a bright future for our children. The things we do now will matter for generations.
Not sure where to begin? Start with the things you buy! Next time you go to the grocery, take these easy tips for a more sustainable shop:
Shop with reusable bags
This one’s easy, but was much easier said than done in 2020 as many retailers banned durable and reusable bags, mugs, cups, and other items from stores with the rationale that single-use items were safer and more sanitary. Thankfully, this myth (driven by the plastics industry) has been debunked by scientists and health experts, and your trusty tote is welcome in most markets.
Keep a couple by the door, in your car, and in the kitchen where you inventory your reserves, to make it easy to BYO bag. Remember to replace the ones you bring inside, and go ahead and reuse any sturdy paper or plastic bags you do end up with.
Choose brands in reusable or recyclable packaging
Food is a necessity, but the packaging waste that comes with many products today is not. While it may require some more forethought and organization, lessening your “shopping footprint” at the grocery store is possible (and affordable!).
Avoid items with excess packaging, like a plastic-wrapped Styrofoam tray, and keep an eye out for brands designing eco-friendly ways to keep food products fresh. Companies today are taking action to offer solutions you can feel better about. For example, the bags for Bimbo Bakeries USA bread, buns, bagels, and English muffins are recyclable through our free program.
Waste not, want not
Did you know the kitchen produces the most waste of any room in your home? This year, lessen your kitchen’s environmental impact by resolving to buy only what you need, planning to use everything in the fridge, and having a way to solve for any scraps.
Label items in your fridge so you know when they expire, and keep a running list of items you have, what you might need, and what you plan to do with them. Keep veggie odds and ends in the freezer for easy soup stock, and throw wilted greens in a blender for smoothies. For everything else, you can try your hand at composting, which puts good germs in the earth.
Donate before you throw, buy used before new
Without fail, the new year always brings on “the urge to purge,” as well as try your hand with new kitchen tools! We totally get it: decluttering your space and clearing out items you no longer need is super satisfying, and a new year is a great time to test new cooking methods or vow to eat healthier — the appliance aisle is certainly inspiration!
Take some time to sort through the “get rid of it” pile and see what utensils, appliances, or cookbooks you want to keep, donate to charity or pass along to friends or family. Then, be a more conscious shopper and go secondhand when you can.
A well-thought out grocery list is one of the most important ways to plan healthy family meals, stay on track for fitness and nutrition goals, and reduce waste by helping to keep your pantry organized. Instead of wasting pieces of paper for every shopping trip, go digital and use your phone’s notepad feature to create a reference that’s up-to-date and no-waste, every time.
On the flip side, reflection is essential to identifying what goes well with any endeavor, including your grocery run (Did I buy too much milk last time? Should we skip the cookies? How did I spend this much money???), so review your receipts…digitally! Skip the paper and itemize via the many apps available for a continuous, year-round method of improving the way you shop.