Tips on Eco-Conscious Shopping

It is not a secret that the level of environment pollution and irreversible climatic change do have a negative impact on our home, the planet Earth. The statistics are shocking and with every next year the situation is getting worse and worse. With so many ways people keep destroying the planet, it can be easy to give up and lose any hope to improve the situation.

But this is not so. Of course, the most significant changes are introduced by large corporations and governments and relate to conserving energy and decreasing water consumption. But still, there is something everyone can do to make the world a better place to live in. From eco-friendly every day practices to healthy lifestyle there are simple ways to decrease your environmental footprint. When we shop we make choices and in this articles weíll focus on eco-friendly choices everyone can make. An added bonus: you will be surprised to find out that eco-friendly often means cheaper!

Action One: Decrease Car Use
Recently more and more Americans have started to drive less and prefer to walk or use the bike or public transportation. The advantages are obvious: driving less helps stay fit, save money and benefit the environment. The amount of dangerous gas emissions that have a significant impact on climate change is staggering. Here are the effective solutions that will help minimize the environmental impact of driving.

1. Start Cycling

If you donít have to get very far consider biking instead of driving. The added bonus: you will get useful physical exercise and save on gas. Scientists say that switching to biking can decrease over 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Walk

Of course, you canít get everywhere on foot as it will take lots of time and energy. But why not incorporate some foot action into your daily routine to decrease carbon emissions from your car. You may walk along the drive-through and park your car farther from the store when you shop.

3. Use Public Transportation

By using public transport we can significantly cut on annual carbon dioxide emissions. Even if you spend at least 20 minutes to get to work by bus the level of carbon dioxide will decrease by 4,800 pounds, which constitutes 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average household with two cars. By the way, from 1995 to 2012, Americans increased the use of public transportation by 34 percent. Train and bus remain the most energy-efficient means of travel so far.

4. Come Together

Well, sometimes the only convenient way to get to some place is by car. But there is something you can do to benefit the environment: get your friends or neighbors to drive in one car. Due to carpooling it is possible to considerably reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

5. Combine Errands

Instead of making several short trips consider combining errands like doing grocery shopping, going to the drugstore and drycleanerís. This way you will not only decrease gas emissions but will also use less fuel.

6. Shop Online

When you shop online you save time, money andÖ energy. Since online stores donít require as many facilities as physical locations they use less energy and water, require fewer trucks to deliver the products and consequently have fewer carbon dioxide emissions. Indeed, online shopping has many benefits. Itís easy, fast and much cheaper. You can read more about online shopping tips and ways to save featuring a nice collection of articles devoted to virtual shopping.

Action Two: Reduce Food Waste
American consumers tend to throw out approximately 40 percent of the food they purchase. Just think of the fact that food thrown away each year all over the world is enough to feed 1 billion hungry people. Unfortunately, all that food wasted results in landfills and finally transforms into a harmful greenhouse gas called methane. When we throw away food we waste the valuable resources, such as water and energy that went into the production of that food. Still, there is something each of us can do to decrease the amount of food waste.

1. Make a plan, and stick to it.

Having a list of products you need to purchase will help your resist impulse buying. We recommend planning your meals for the whole week so you could make a list of all necessary ingredients. If you follow your meal plan, there wouldnít be much food left to throw away.

2. Keep Track of the Trash

Consider recording every food product that goes into the garbage. This will help spot patterns and adjust your shopping practices in accordance with them.

3. Donate to Food Kitchens.

If you fail to eliminate food waste completely consider donating food left to a local food bank. There are many people in need who will be happy to get the food you were going to toss.

4. Understand Expiration Dates

Itís important to understand the difference between the ďsell-byĒ label (the date when the retailers must stop selling the product) and ďuse-byĒ (the date when the product may begin to go bad.) The food products will stay fresh longer if you just keep the fridge and freezer cool enough and unpack groceries immediately after getting home from the store.

5. Use Leftovers

Many people feel bored to have the same meal for several days in a row. Instead of throwing away the leftovers use them the next day to prepare new dishes. Just be creative and you will be able to reduce the food waste to minimum. Or consider freezing leftovers so you could eat them later.

6. Create a Compost Pile

Even if you donít grow anything in your backyard you may start composting. It means recycling food back into the ecosystem. Composting prevents food from getting to landfills and waterways and helps make the soil more fertile. These days many local communities have their own composting programs, so try to find out how to join the one in your area.

7. Take It Home

Some restaurants serve plates loaded with so much food that it is just impossible for many of us to eat it all. Consider bringing a container with you so you could take home the food left.

Action Three: Use Less Food Packaging
The bad news is that food backing constitutes the bulk of the total packaging waste in the U.S. (nearly two thirds!) But the good news is that more and more companies try to use less of it, and so can each of us. Want to know how?

1. Bring Your Own Cup

Just imagine how many disposable cups an average American working in an office uses when drinking coffee or tea and multiply that amount by the number of days in a year. That will make about 500 disposable cups a year. But you can easily reduce this number if you just take your own mug with you to the office. By the way, some stores also encourage people to do so and even provide discounts for those who do.

2. Buy in Bulk

Consider buying bulk quantities of foods like cereal, pasta or nuts. However, it is important to store products properly so they donít go bad.

3. Buy Loose

Opt for products with minimal or no packaging at all. Consider purchasing loose vegetables and fruit and cereal just in a bag (without a box). If you canít avoid the packaging look for products in packaging made from recycled materials.

4. Reuse the Packaging

Most containers made of plastic and glass can be reused for storing a variety of food products you purchase in bulk. However, some containers canít be used to store food products. Just check the number on the bottom to figure out whether you can use it or not. (Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are safe to use while numbers 3, 6, and 7 had better be avoided.)

8. Forego the Forks

When you order food you are going to eat at home ask the restaurant not to include forks, napkins, etc. with your order.

Action Four: Eat Locally
If possible, try to purchase food products produced in your area. This practice will help decrease the amount of resources used to deliver food. We recommend shopping at the local markets for fresh locally grown products. Farmers use less packaging and by purchasing locally produced food you will also support farmers who work hard to protect the environment. In addition, eating locally produced food is good for your health as it contains more nutrients. Eating locally also means dining at the restaurants that serve locally grown food. Another effective way to minimize the carbon footprint is to eat local produce that is in season now.