Pre-washed vegetables

This text initially appeared on Clear Consuming

Doing good for the planet could make you happier, more healthy and, sure, wealthier. Kristin Hostetter, Head of Sustainability at Exterior, explores small life-style modifications that may have a huge impact. She writes to

Confession: I really like bougie lettuce. You understand, stuff that is available in a plastic clamshell package deal, prices about 20 cents a leaf, and at all times has the phrases “natural” and “child” on the label. I would eat a bunch at each meal if I might, topped with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

However the packaging kills me. I really feel responsible each time I toss one in my buying cart, understanding I am supporting an organization that makes use of plastic packaging and that plastic recycling charges within the US are solely about six p.c.

Responsible Pleasure: It is onerous to withstand the comfort and style of those pre-washed veggies. (Photograph: Kristin Hostetter)

Typically, although, to compensate for my fancy lettuce behavior, I select humbler, extra naked greens, like the tasteless head of purple leaf or leafy inexperienced lettuce or a head of collard greens topped with a couple of chopped herbs or collard greens.

It received me desirous about all the alternatives I make on the grocery retailer and the packaging of every merchandise I placed on the checkout conveyor belt. As somebody who’s attempting to stay extra sustainably, ought to I purchase my ancho chile powder in a plastic or glass bottle?

Like most issues on the planet, the satan is within the particulars.

“Much less packaging is at all times higher for the planet,” says Cory Connors, host of the Sustainable Packaging Podcast. “By selecting merchandise which can be unwrapped or sustainably packaged, you are voting along with your pockets and telling corporations that you simply will not purchase excessively or irresponsibly packaged stuff.”

However it’s too simplistic to suppose that every one packaging is evil. “There’s nothing sustainable about rotten or broken meals,” says Connors. “If a enterprise has to package deal one thing in a multi-layered plastic container to ship it to the buyer in an edible state, that is extra sustainable than not utilizing the packaging if it ends in rotten, unusable meals.”

“We will all be a part of the answer relating to sustainable packaging,” says Connors. “The important thing, Connors says, is to solely purchase merchandise which can be packaged in materials you’ll be able to recycle in your group or, higher but, will reuse indefinitely, like mason jars. Affirm along with your native supplies recycling facility (identified additionally like MRF, which rhymes with surf) what is definitely recycled. So share what in your group.”

Connors is inspired by the systemic modifications he is seeing, corresponding to extra shops adopting drop-off recycling facilities and communities increasing recycling companies to accommodate issues like comfortable plastics and materials.

Within the common grocery retailer as we speak, we’re confronted with decisions on actually each shelf, so Connors and I took a digital stroll, aisle by aisle, to speak concerning the extra sustainable decisions we will make on the grocery retailer.

Cool and chilled stuff

1. Within the produce division, keep away from plastic luggage. Simply wash these fruits and veggies.

2. Purchase unfastened carrots, potatoes, and onions, slightly than the prepackaged choices.

3. Select cardboard egg cartons, not plastic or styrofoam. You possibly can toss them within the bin or reuse them as seed starters for the backyard or DIY fireplace starters from melted candle scraps and sawdust or dryer lint. Egg cartons are additionally an ideal substitute for packing peanuts, or you’ll be able to tear them up and add them to your compost pile.


A straightforward selection: Not solely is cardboard higher for the planet than plastic or Styrofoam, it additionally protects eggs higher, as you may see on this extremely scientific experiment. (Photograph: Kristin Hostetter)

4. If you happen to cease on the deli counter, carry your personal containers and skip the plastic luggage and cups. “It takes braveness to take your personal packaging to a typical retailer,” says Connors. I can attest to that. Most deli employees increase their eyebrows after I ask them to place sliced ​​provolone cheese in my silicone bag, however they do. “Ten years in the past folks, it was radical to carry their very own reusable grocery luggage to the shop,” says Connors. “However it’s commonplace now, because of baggage bans and baggage charges. Maybe the identical can be true of luggage and deli containers sooner or later.”

BYO containers

It may appear unusual to hold BYO containers to the deli or meat counter, but when we begin doing that, it might sooner or later develop into as commonplace as carrying your personal reusable grocery luggage. (Photograph: Kristin Hostetter)

5. If you happen to’re shopping for a minimize of meat bought each over-the-counter and in prepackaged parts, go for the previous. You need to use the technique listed above: carry your personal reusable containers. Please word that in case your buy is wrapped in butcher paper with a plastic lining, it won’t be recyclable. Be courageous! If somebody asks you questions, take the chance to inform them you are attempting to keep away from single-use plastic packaging.

6. Keep away from the black plastic trays (typically discovered within the prepackaged meat division) in any respect prices. They don’t seem to be recyclable. All over the place. Placing it within the bin is wishcycling.

Dry items

7. In case your retailer has a bulk aisle, store for staples like rice, grains, nuts, and pasta. Carry your containers!

8. “After we take into consideration issues like spices and sauces and condiments, whichever container you wash and reuse when empty has the smallest carbon footprint,” says Connors. “If you happen to reuse glass bottles, for instance, that is your greatest wager. If you happen to’re not going to reuse the container, simply be sure every thing you purchase is recyclable the place you reside.”

9. Kick the bottled water behavior. Simply do it. In america we’re lucky to have completely potable faucet water virtually all over the place. Spend money on a superb water bottle and refill it typically.

10. Free your self from the plastic wrap. I used to be hooked for a few years, however kicked the behavior after I realized my roll of plastic is a pleasant to have, however not a necessity. Now, after I actually need to wrap one thing, I select tinfoil, which is recyclable so long as it is clear. Simply roll it up right into a ball till you will have one which’s about three inches in diameter so it will get sorted correctly within the recycling middle and does not fall by way of the slots within the equipment.

11. As a substitute of liquid or plastic-encapsulated dishwasher cleaning soap, purchase the powder in cardboard bins (Cascade is a traditional, old-school choice that works nice). “All liquid cleaners are 90 p.c water,” says Connors. “Shopping for water-based merchandise to make use of in a water-producing room (just like the kitchen, toilet, or laundry room) is fairly foolish. Particularly since so many powder and concentrated cleaners can be found as we speak. The carbon footprint of concentrates is a lot decrease as a result of it requires much less packaging and is lighter and smaller to ship and transport.”

12. Order laundry strips or tablets of pressed powder to keep away from the pods (they’re wrapped in plastic that turns into microplastic when it dissolves) and the massive plastic jugs. I really like Tru Earth. The strips work nice, scent nice (unscented is an choice too), and take up a fraction of the house in my laundry room.

13. Skip the dryer sheets (that are made out of single-use plastic within the type of polyester) and go for dryer balls. They final for greater than 1,000 masses, so you may get monetary savings too. I take advantage of Tru Earth Wool Dryer Balls and love them.

14. Cease losing cash on zip lock luggage. Even should you wash and reuse them, they ultimately hand over. Not so with my new favourite luggage from Joie. I really like these comfortable silicone luggage, they arrive in a wide range of sizes, straightforward to scrub, straightforward to seal (some silicone luggage are stiff and fussy), and freezer protected.

Private care

15. Skip the plastic shampoo bottles and uncover the surprise of shampoo bars. They do a unbelievable job and final ceaselessly till you allow them to sit in a puddle of water. They’re additionally nice for journey, that means you’ll be able to refuse the small plastic bottles in your lodge room.

Shampoo bars

Shampoo and conditioner bars are a superb various to plastic bottles. They value about $12 every, final a number of months, and ship in sustainable packaging. (Photograph: Kristin Hostetter)

16. And say goodbye to plastic conditioner bottles crammed with watered-down product, too. After attempting a lot of conditioner bars that depart my lengthy hair dry, waxy, and matted, I lastly discovered one from Dip that kicks ass.

One very last thing: should you’re annoyed with the extreme plastic packaging at your native grocery, write a letter and inform them! I used this helpful template from the nonprofit Past Plastics and received a name from the shop supervisor a couple of week later. We had a significant dialogue and whereas he defended the necessity to package deal spinach purchased in bulk in plastic clamshell packaging, he listened and admitted that there are some objects within the retailer that might do with much less packaging and promised to look into them.

Kristin Hostetter is Head of Sustainability at Exterior Interactive, Inc. and resident sustainability columnist for Exterior On-line.

This text was initially revealed on Exterior On-line.

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