Money Week day 2 – how to rethink the weekly shop
It’s hard to miss the prominence of environmental and sustainability issues in the media in recent years. On a global scale we’re being encouraged to make small changes to our lifestyles in order to help maintain a healthier planet.
But does living a more ‘sustainable’ lifestyle mean your standard of living has to go down?
On the contrary, living more sustainably is about being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste; making lifestyle changes that will not only help maintain the Earth’s resources for the future but will also give you the opportunity to save money, eat more healthily, reduce food miles and pollution, and generally contribute to a healthier style of living.
How can I help?
There are lots of everyday choices you can make to lead a more sustainable life and thinking about the way you shop for food is a good place to start.
Do your research
- Looking into local farms and brands to shop with will not only support local businesses, but also help you to reduce your producer to consumer food miles.
- Keep up to date with seasonal fruit and veg. Different products flourish naturally at certain times of the year, meaning they need less help to grow from artificial fertilisers. This means they are more likely to contain their full nutrients and vitamins, will generally have travelled less far, and will be cheaper to buy.
- Knowing where the things you buy come from and who manufactures them will give you a better idea of what kind of practices they use. We’re not trying to suggest you switch everything to organic (your bank balance would not be a fan), but try and choose products that have been responsibly sourced, and consider buying Fair Trade items where possible.
Avoid food waste
In the UK, it is estimated that over 9.52 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, with 70% coming from households (WRAP study 2018). This has led to 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases being emitted every year. Here are some of the ways you can help to reduce this figure, whilst saving some pennies along the way:
- Create meal plans and have a shopping list so you don’t buy unnecessary things, or shop online to avoid unnecessary off list temptations instore.
- Check before you throw. There’s not much that can’t be frozen, baked into cakes or blitzed up into a delicious soup or pesto! – Apps like Kitche and No Waste can help you keep on top of product expiry dates and provide ideas on how to use up your flagging food stuffs.
- Always check the fridge and cupboards before you shop so you don’t buy duplicates unnecessarily – shopping with housemates can cut costs for you all.
- Freeze leftovers for future meals.
- Have a look into some of the low-cost and even free community shopping schemes that have been set up to help combat food poverty and reduce food waste.
- Apps like Olio allow communities to share surplus food for free, whilst Too Good to Go, and Karma can connect you to restaurants, cafes and bakeries with surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away. Churchill Square Shopping Centre in Brighton has recently become the first in the UK to partner up with Olio, making food that can no longer be sold available to the community.
Reduce your plastic
Plastic pollution is one of the most serious threats to the health of our oceans, but there are things we can all do to help reduce the amount of plastic we use:
- Go for the loose fruit and veg wherever you can and take your own re-usable bags.
- Refill or zero-waste shops allow you to refill your own bags and containers with a wide range of everyday food items like flour, sugar, herbs and spices, rice, pasta, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, cereals, oil and coffee. Household goods like liquid soap, washing up liquid, shampoo and conditioner are also often available. Not only does this reduce packaging waste, but also food waste, as you can buy exactly the amount you need.
- Look for recycled and recyclable packaging. Many companies are shifting from plastic to more environmentally friendly materials like cardboard or paper, so take a second look before you reach for your usual brands.
- If you can’t find a plastic-free solution that suits you, buy the largest size you can (within reason) – bulk buying non-perishable goods like pasta means less trips to the shop and less plastic packaging – this works especially well if you’re shopping together as a household.
Keep reusable bags in your handbag/rucksack/car to discourage use of single use plastic bags.
You don’t have to go full-throttle with your inner eco-warrior and take on all of these ideas in one go, the smallest of changes is a positive step towards preserving the planet, and your pocket.
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