Sustainable food shopping

Sustainable food shopping

October 14, 2019

It is important to make conscious consumption choices in all aspects of our lives, not just when it comes to fashion. Despite the downfalls of the food industry, buying food isn’t something we can boycott like Fast Fashion - but changing the way we buy, and where we buy from, can have a positive impact on the environment.

Here are our three top tips for how to make more sustainable choices when shopping for food…

1. Buy non-perishables from Zero-Waste Stores

More and more “zero-waste stores” are popping up across the UK, particularly in London. These stores are great because they provide packaging-free pantry staples, encourage you to keep and reuse packaging products you already have, and help to reduce food waste.

Take along any empty containers you have at home (old food jars, old bread bags, old yoghurt pots… anything!), weigh them upon arrival, and then add your chosen products to each one. Once you’ve got your fill, you’ll pay for what each container weighs (minus the original weight).

Our go-to is Hetu in Wandsworth, because their products are ethically and sustainably sourced, most of their shop fixtures are pre-loved or upcycled, and they work with First Mile to put recycling at the core of their business.

Hetu have a great range of products – from Argan Oil to Popping Corn – and are transparent about the country of origin for each one: a large variety of their produce is from the UK, and some is even made in-house. 

 

2. Shop local

There are so many advantages to buying your fruit and veg at a local market or farm shop, besides having a more enjoyable experience than shopping in a busy supermarket.

Buying local means your food has a much lower carbon footprint than supermarket produce. Supermarkets import their products from all over the world, releasing carbon emissions during the process, whereas farmers markets or farm shops sell fresh produce grown locally.

Industrial farming involves large-scale machines (which produce carbon waste) and chemicals, insecticides and pesticides (which are harmful to animals and plants). Local farmers’ produce has a much lower environmental impact, as they are more likely to use organic methods and non-modified seeds, and are unlikely to use large processing machines.

Food waste is also a big issue for large grocery retailers. Farmers selling at their shop or the market tend not to over-produce on the same scale as industrial farms, and can sell you the “wonky veg” that supermarkets won’t put on their shelves, so there won’t be unnecessary wastage.

Take your own containers or bags to put your purchases in, and you can do your fruit and veg shop packaging free, too! If you’re in need of produce bags, we recommend Onya Life’s reusable bags. They’re made from recycled plastic drink bottles, and their packaging is made from post-consumer recycled material. The bags are really light, yet each one can hold up to 2kg of fruit and veg! After we’ve used ours, we give it a quick wash in cold water, and once it’s dry it’s ready to use again.

 


Photo source: www.facebook.com/ParliamentHillFarmersMarket

 

If you love the idea of shopping local but you’re not sure where to go, there are loads of online tools that can help you. Here’s a few of our favourites:

Big Barn has a “Local Food Map” on their website, which will pinpoint all shops and markets near you that are selling local produce.

Farming UK’s website can help find a farm shop near you, giving a description for each one.

If you’re based in London, London Farmers Markets can help you find your nearest market and provides details on all of the sellers.

3. Meal planning

In the UK, we are encouraged to buy food in excess through Buy One Get One Free offers and multipack deals. When we throw away this excess it costs us money, but also has serious ethical and environmental implications.

795 million people in the world are malnourished, but because food is so easily available in the UK, most people see it as disposable. In UK households we waste 5 million tonnes of edible food every year – enough to fill 40 million wheelie bins!

Throwing food away not only wastes the energy, time and resources that went into producing it - once this food ends up in landfill, it rots and emits methane, which is a dangerous greenhouse gas. According to Love Food Hate Waste, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China and the US).  

But there’s a simple solution for minimising food waste in our homes.

Getting into the habit of taking just 30 minutes to plan your meals for the week ahead will mean that you don’t buy unnecessary items when you’re out shopping. By planning whilst you’re sat at home, you’ll be able to check what you already have, so you won’t buy duplicates. By having recipes in mind, you’ll know the exact quantities that you’ll need.

And by avoiding unnecessary items, duplicates, and excess quantities, you’ll minimise the amount of food waste you produce (and, as an added bonus, the amount of money that you spend).




Changing your shopping habits by using zero-waste stores, buying local produce, and approaching your food shopping in an organised way can all have a positive impact on the environment – reducing food waste, reducing the amount of packaging in your kitchen and avoiding
buying produce with a huge carbon footprint. Getting into these good habits will help you on your way to living a more sustainable lifestyle.


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