7 Ways to be a Smarter Grocery Shopper

It's easy to make better choices at the supermarket.

Buying fresh local produce id healthier and better for the environment.

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Grocery shopping is something everyone has to do. Whether you go to the  supermarket or buy online, there are ways to shop smarter and greener.

How you shop plays a major role in having a smaller environmental footprint as well as helping curb food waste, according to Eco Watch. In the US, 30-40 percent of all food is wasted every year and 10 percent of that is connected to grocery stores. Part of shopping smarter is to buy what you can use.

From bringing reusable shopping bags to stores to buying food without packaging, there are many ways for you to save money, waste less food, and be eco-friendly at the same time. Here are seven tips on how to be a better grocery shopper.

Plan your shopping
Make a list and meal plan before you go to the supermarket. This will allow you to plan healthy meals for the week. But don’t forget to check your pantry and your fridge to make sure you don’t purchase food that you already have. Having a list also cuts down on impulse buys that you don’t really need.

Buy bulk foods
Many foods are wrapped in plastic or have too much packaging. In fact, 23 percent of all waste in landfills in the US comes from food packaging according to a report from the EPA. You can help reduce all this packaging waste by buying bulk foods whenever possible. Bring your own plastic bags or containers if allowed. There are also all-bulk grocery stores that sell spices, grains, cereals and even cleaning supplies

Purchase seasonal and local produce
Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables when the produce is in season cuts down on the environmental cost of transportation. But there are other benefits too. The local produce you buy is fresher and not artificially ripened so it is more nutritional. And you are supporting your local farmers. You can check the USDA’s Seasonal Produce Guide to see when produce is ripe in your area.

Another good idea is to buy “ugly” or imperfect produce. Misshapen fruits and veggies are perfectly good to eat but are frequently rejected by grocery stores or not sold. There are even markets dedicated to selling ugly vegetables and fruit.

Save your produce bags
While many people use cloth or mesh reusable grocery bags, another tip is to save the plastic bags that you put produce in, suggests Canadian Living. These bags can be reused in a myriad of ways. From packing a lunch to picking up dog waste, reusing plastic bags is the way to go.

Choose organic and fair trade
Buying products that are organic – without using  pesticides or chemical fertilizers – means that they are safer for you to use and safer for the environment too. Conventional farms contribute to pollutants getting into groundwater, rivers and oceans.

Buying fair trade products means that the farmers in developing countries can earn a living wage and grow sustainable products. This movement seeks a trading partnership based on equity and fairness.  Two of the most common fair trade products are coffee and chocolate.

Avoid processed foods
Processed foods may be convenient but you pay for that ease of use in terms of health and environmental impact, according to Eco Watch. Many processed foods contain little or no whole grains and are loaded with unhealthy fats, additives, and preservatives that extend the shelf-life. While items like boxed mac and cheese or frozen dinners help on hectic days, it's best to buy fresh foods.

Cycle or walk to the store
Save gas by walking or cycling to the market. If you purchase groceries online, try to buy larger amounts of staples like cleaning supplies or foods that you go through quickly so that you need to buy groceries less frequently. The same goes for trips to the supermarket. “If you own your own van and fill it on one trip, the carbon expended becomes proportionately smaller per food item than if you drive to the shop and buy little,” Tim Lang emeritus professor of food policy at City University, London’s Centre for Food Policy, told The Guardian. It’s actually easy to be green if you combine some of these tips to smarter grocery shopping.

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