Being a Better Steward at the Grocery Store
Plastic is the epitome of all waste and pollution. Plastic ends up in our waterways, alongside roads, in our wildlands, in animals, and even in us! Plastic sent to landfills just take up space, and can take decades or centuries to decompose. In 2018, only about 8.7% of plastic was recycled. Windstorms often bring plastic bags to the Center's landscape, and they wrap themselves around our trees. To decrease this crisis we are taking it to the store! Here are some tips on how to be a better steward at the grocery store. Do not be overwhelmed. These practices take time to incorporate into our routine. With effort and time we naturally become better stewards.
  • Bring your own reusable bag: Reusable bags come in a variety of styles and fabrics to help you transport your groceries plastic free. There are netted or finer mesh fabrics for produce and bulk bins, and there are bags to keep your groceries cold or hot. Using reusable bags reduces the number of plastic bags dispersed from the grocery store to begin with. Keep reusable bags in your vehicle to help remember to grab them on your way into the store.
  • Reduce the plastic bags you use: Be mindful of how many plastic bags you use at the store all together. From the produce section to checkout, the number of bags used can be reduced. A lot of produce does not have to be bagged in the produce section, such as carrots, cucumbers, and apples. If you prefer to have leafy greens in bags be sure to check out reusable produce bags. Heavier items in the checkout could be redundant to bag, such as large water jugs. Be sure to tell your grocer what you do not want bagged, or to use just a couple bags. Sometimes store clerks instinctively bag items that do not even have to be bagged.
  • Recycle and Reuse (part 2): Sometimes inevitable circumstances require us to use plastic bags at the grocery store. It happens. Some stores have recycling bins to bring your plastic back to. Call and ask your local store and recycling center. Otherwise bags can be repurposed for at home use. Bags can be used for small bathroom and bedroom trash cans. Bags from the bulk bin and produce section can be reused for lunches, storing food in the fridge, and miniature greenhouses for seed starts. They are very nifty to keep around. You can give them a wash or rinse in the sink if need be.
  • Eat locally produced food: Check food labels and stickers, and know where your food comes from. When food is sourced nearby it lessens the need for food sourced from states, or countries, away. Decreasing how far our food travels decreases air pollution, resources, and traffic used to transport here. Eating locally produced food also supports your local farmers. The best way to eat local is by shopping at your local farmers market.
  • Eat more vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are often the only items at stores that are not packaged. Be mindful of what your food is packaged in. Eating more fruits and vegetables is also good for your health!
  • Buy from the bulk bin: Buying from the bulk bin decreases the amount of packaging used for a product. Check with your grocery store to use reusable bulk bin bags.