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Observations at the Grocery Store

Aug 17, 2007
Just going grocery shopping can be interesting when you want to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I was shopping the other day and just marveling at some of the wasteful stuff there.

I like buying from my local Henry's as they have a good selection of organic foods, although not exclusively organic. But I especially like the bulk bins. I could wish for a choice between paper and plastic bags at the bins, but let's face it... it's much harder to keep a paper bag from leaking small stuff like flour, so I understand the choice. Then there's the problem of trying to have the paper bags available neatly rather than torn and all over the floor.

But I don't shop there exclusively. It was at the other grocery store I go to that I really got to thinking about some of the waste.

Like putting gallon milk bottles into plastic bags. Individually. It's a problem than can be avoided by those who think to tell the clerk to not put it into the bag, or by having your own reusable cloth bags, but few do.

Hey, folks, these things have handles! If only one's going into the bag, what's the point of putting it into a bag in the first place?

Then there are the 3 pound bags of apples. Once again, just watch and they'll put those into their own little bag. Never mind that the plastic bags they use on these are pretty heavy duty. They bag them anyhow.

I'm steadily learning to avoid many of the convenience foods. Frankly I don't like most of them all that well anyhow. I can mix up my own stuff fairly well and for less money. I'm pretty sure there's less packaging involved too. Hard to tell when you're mixing things up from several containers but since generally each ingredient can be used in multiple recipes there's a pretty good chance there.

The worst of the convenience foods, of course, are the single serving ones. Frozen dinners, individually wrapped snacks and similar have far more packaging to dispose of. Even if the entire package is recyclable it makes more sense to buy in larger packages whenever possible. It's that little part of the equation called "reduce."

When I think about the environment, I want to buy glass. It recycles well. When I think about my kids handling the products, I want to buy plastic, in case they drop it. It's a definite balancing act, but so many things these days don't give you a lot of options.

Going to the grocery store isn't something you can give up. But you can think as you shop and even as the clerk checks your purchases out for you.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.greensahm.com/ and blogs about her progress towards living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. You can read more about environmental news on her site.
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