Friday, March 16, 2007

Green Kitchen Tip #11

Shopping Habits

In the last few years I have drastically changed my shopping habits. Part of this is due to my growing older and knowing how to spend my time more wisely, but part of this is also due to increased fuel prices. While I still am of the mind-set that it is ideal to shop daily for whatever it may be that sounds appetizing or looks fresh and inspiring, unless you live near your market and are vigilant about walking there regardless of the weather, catching a bus, or combining your trip with other necessary travels, there are obvious advantages to consolidating shopping runs. Now when I shop with my car, I make it count. I hit all the stores on the same day and I stock up for at least a month. Of course, I still make regular trips to the grocery store down the street, but most of my shopping is very energy efficient – except, of course, in terms of my own personal energy efficiency, because I’ll tell you, by the time I get home from “power shopping,” I’m exhausted! I’m definitely not of the shop-till-you-drop set. That said, my exhaustion is well worth the time I can spend the remainder of the month not shopping!

While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is a great way to conserve fuel, as well as time. Drive once. Eat for a month! Of course, that said, it helps if you can supplement fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs from your own garden. And believe me, it helps to prepare in advance a separate list for each store you plan to hit.

Once at the store, as you reach for one of your favorite products, consider buying the largest container available. There are several advantages to buying items in bulk, whether you browse from bulk bins, you brave big box stores like Costco, or you just grab the biggest lot on the shelf. Buying in bulk means you make fewer trips to stock up on the items you use regularly. Additionally, it typically costs less to buy in bulk. This may correlate with another important advantage – less packaging per unit. Because apparently, “Consumers spend approximately ten cents of every grocery dollar on packaging, making packaging the fourth largest industry in the United States” (source). To top that off, I’ve noticed that when I shop at Costco I have no need for shopping bags of any sort, nor do I require any of the cardboard boxes that they graciously offer for re-use.

If your bulk purchase is non-perishable you can store your bounty and use as needed, knowing well in advance when your stockpile begins to dwindle. Some products, such as dish soap, are easier to manage in bulk if you portion them out into smaller containers. If you are short on space, or the item spoils before you can use it all, consider splitting your purchase with friends or family.

And speaking of friends and family, if you live close to them, consider either shopping with them or asking if you can pick anything up for them while you are out. Chances are high that they will return the favor at an opportune time, and that some fuel will be saved in the deal.

For more environmentally friendly shopping tips, please visit this site.

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At April 04, 2007 8:47 AM, Blogger Almost Vegetarian said...

Really great ideas. Oh, that I could be that organized. And, the reality is, we're trying to eat more and more veg and less and less packaged foods, so big trips like this are becoming less and less of a necessity for us. But, as big trips lessen, runs to the produce store increase. But, I suspect, there will always be the need for the odd big trip, so thanks for the good tips.

At April 06, 2007 1:44 PM, Blogger Jade said...

Thank you almost vegetarian! Unfortunately I have to drive to get a lot of my staples, like organic veggies, organic wheat, organic spices, etc. Thankfully, that is beginning to change, as the store down the street has brought in more organics. Celebrate if you don't have to run any nasty long grocery trips!


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