When I sat down to write an article on being environmentally conscious while grocery shopping, I thought of so many little things that I do to reduce waste and even more things I don’t yet do but realize I should start doing. So here is Part Two of Going Green At The Grocery Store.

Yet another way to avoid putting more plastic bags in the landfill–I don’t use plastic produce bags unless absolutely necessary. There a plenty of fruits and veggies that are hardy enough to withstand the jostling in my re-usable grocery sacks–apples, peppers, any citrus, bananas and avocados and more. It just doesn’t make sense to fill my cloth grocery sacks with plastic bags filled with produce. In fact, I just placed an order for some re-usable produce bags and even some extras to give as gifts.

Another one of my shopping pet-peeves–styrofoam!  Frankly, I can’t believe anyone still uses it.  Obviously the only way to package certain foods, like meats, involves using a leak-proof material. Even in Boulder, the only place to recycle styrofoam is to drive it to the recycling center.  The town does not pick it up with the regular recycles which include glass, metal, plastics, cardboard and paper.  I try to save up a bunch of styrofoam and take it in once or twice a year.  If I can avoid buying products packaged in it, I’ll do that first. And if the only option for my coffee is a styro-foam cup, I’ll skip it. Or better yet, I bring my travel mug.

What does our family of five buy in bulk? Not diapers, thank goodness! Paper towels and toilet paper.  Some companies shrink wrap the half-dozen to two dozen rolls in each package together while others wrap each roll separately and then shrink wrap the lot.  Looks like over-packaging to me!  I only buy toilet paper and paper towels that do not come individually wrapped and I actually have about two dozen washcloths that I use and rewash in place of paper towels. I know there are fancier absorbent reusable cloths are on the market, but my wash cloths seem to do the trick.  When they start looking too ratty to use on the kitchen counters, I pass them on to my husband for grease rags in the garage.  We’ll use them until they are mere shreds and their cotton fibers are practically ready for the compost pile.  Am I exaggerating? I’m not sure.

And speaking of over-packaging, I also don’t buy food items that come in snack packs.  And I try not to use plastic sandwich bags when it comes to packing snacks for myself or my children.  Instead I use small plastic or glass containers with lids. There are many places to buy reusable sandwich bags and lunch sacks too, both in stores and online.

Using cloth bags for groceries, being conscious of buying products in recyclable containers, being mindful to avoid over-packaged goods and trying to buy all natural, organic, locally grown produce whenever possible are all great ways to do your part to keep the planet a little bit healthier while at the grocery store. Please let me know if there other things you do while shopping to make our planet greener and cleaner.