• These 4 Items Can Help You Shop Sustainably

    March 21, 2016 • LIFE

    Sustainable Shopping Kit

    Grocery shopping can be a great opportunity to try and reduce the amount of waste that you acquire. We know that buying local or organically-grown food is a more sustainable choice, but what else can help make your weekly shopping trip eco-friendly?  With a bit of planning, the right tools and a little gumption, it’s quite simple to avoid single-use plastics like plastic bags, excessive paper and plastic packaging, and other disposable items.

    The Sustainable Shopping Kit

    Here are some products that can help reduce waste from your grocery shopping.

    1. Mason Jars

    Mason jars are a versatile and attractive option for storing food, especially if shopping at a bulk foods store. They come in a range of sizes, are inexpensive and made of high-quality, non-toxic glass. You can also swap out lids, using canning lids when preserving foods or reusable plastic lids for freezing, refrigerating and storing dry food. These lids are BPA free and dishwasher safe. If you don’t have a bulk food store nearby, consider contacting local suppliers directly and see if they will let you buy food before they package it. Similarly,  you could talk to your local butcher, health food store or fruit and veggie store about using your own containers. More often than not, small business owners are happy to help.

    2. Bread Bags

    If you have a favourite bakery or bagel stand at your local market, why not take a reusable cotton or canvas bread bag and fill up with baked treats? Often these are packed in plastic wrap, a paper bag and then again in a plastic bag, so you could save quite a bit of packaging with this simple idea. You can then store your bread, muffins or other baked goods in the bag for several days and it will keep fresh – our customers tell us that bread bags keep bread fresher for longer than paper bags! The bags are able to washed in the dishwasher, washing machine or by hand.

    3. Produce Bags

    The next helpful type of bag for grocery shopping is a produce bag – a versatile and eco-friendly option for all types of groceries, but especially fruit and veggies. They are made of light-weight fabric (like gauze or bamboo) of varying thickness, allowing produce to breathe.

    Fresh fruit and vegetables breathe at different rates – they are divided into 3 categories:

    1. High breathers (store in mesh bags like our Onya bags): broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas & snow peas, spinach etc.

    2. Medium breathers (store in mesh bags like our Onya bags): beans, cabbage, cauliflower, fresh herbs, fresh shallots, green onions, greens, leeks, lettuce, ripe apples, citrus, ripe pears, peppers.

    3. Low breathers (store in solid bags like our 4MyEarth bags): asparagus, beetroot, mushrooms, carrots, celery, cucumbers, turnips, zucchini, ripe berries, all other fruit not in the medium category.

    Bonus Tip: Keep ethylene emitting produce separate from other produce to prevent over-ripening and premature spoilage.  The top five producers of ehtylene gas are cantaloupes (rockmelon), apples, apricots, pears and avocados.

    4. Beeswax Wraps

    Beeswax wraps are fantastic for unpackaged cheese, small goods and other deli foods (though anything with a sauce or liquid is better in a small mason jar or glass container). They are also great for storing any of the food you bring home, in place of plastic cling wrap. Plastic can affect the flavour of cheese – another reason to look for package-free choices!

    Here are some more tips from Biome guest blogger, Julie Orr, on how she tries to reduce the waste that comes into her life when grocery shopping.

    • Plan a menu 

    Good planning and a menu based on whole foods will reduce the amount of packaging in your shopping and also reduce the amount of wasted foods.

    • Bulk buy 

    Think about bulk buying wherever possible, remembering to take your own reusable containers. When you consider bulk buying, think also about how you will store the product that you purchase.

    • Enjoy markets and buy local

    Visit your local markets to buy from local farmers, which not only supports these small business owners, it reduces food miles and often means the food will be fresher!

    • Rethink your purchase

    The best thing we can do to combat wasteful consumption is to carefully consider our purchase. Know exactly what you require and/or want. Supporting the people and the products that support our environment and use sustainable processes can be an incredibly rewarding experience. When there is a product that you need, consider the best way to source that product.

    If you already do most of your grocery shopping away from the big supermarkets I would love to hear about it. Let us know what tips you have for making your shopping greener!

    If you would like to become a Biome blogger, send a quick email to Tracey at tracey.bailey@biome.com.au.