Grocery shopping isn’t just about saving money; it’s about saving the planet.
Wastefulness is weighing heavily on socially conscious shoppers.
Kelsey Cox is an environmental advocate who says she is more than mindful to make her grocery store decisions with the planet as a priority.
“I avoid buying things with excessive packaging and recycle what I can if I do,” said Cox. “Like, if I go to the grocery store, I’ll choose fresh produce over packaged food and when I do buy it I never put it in the plastic bags they have around.”
The average consumer may shop with money in mind, but Cox says greed can make people ignorant of the damage that excess packaging and transported goods can do.
If you’re considering adjusting your shopping list to better your environmental footprint, says Cox, there are plenty of simple ways you can do just that. She recommends shopping locally, bringing your own containers to stores that sell bulk products and using reusable bags.
However, according to Cox, being informed is most important.
“Become more educated on what’s happening around you and what the process is behind the food you’re buying,” said Cox. “Watch documentaries and learn about the forest industry and transportation systems required for everyday goods. Just start small, like simply throwing your garbage in the garbage can – instead of out the window or door – and recycle.”
Cox admittedly does not live as sustainably as she would like, but she was young when she recognized the importance of it.
Amsterdam has already begun taking initiative on the world’s waste issue. In February, the first ever plastic-free grocery aisle was introduced by the Dutch grocery chain Ekoplaza.
Memorial University geography department head Norm Catto has done extensive research in climate and environmental change. He says packaging is not the only problem when shopping: It’s also the food you buy that often goes to waste.
“Canadians throw away an average of 500 grams of food each day (180 kilograms a year), amounting to $31 billion worth of food wasted,” said Catto.
That means every Canadian is throwing out almost 400 pounds of food a year.
In a typical Canadian landfill, food, paper, cardboard and plastic account for some of the highest percentages of waste occupancy.
“Canadians produce about 1,100 kilograms of waste per person each year,” said Catto. “This is equal to about 6,000 full garbage trucks daily.”
Cost aside, he says that with today’s technology, about 60 per cent of this waste is theoretically recyclable. But, with no laws in place to regulate waste, a lot of people are left throwing recyclables in the garbage bin.
Catto says composting may not be the solution, but it would be a major help in preserving landfills. In places such as Nova Scotia, organic waste must be composted as it is not accepted as disposal.
Cox says every little bit counts and because Earth is our home, people should do their best to take care of it.
“‘I’ve always had a big heart for the environment,” said Cox. “It really hurts to see how much people just don’t care.”