Plan your meals
Before you decide to go shopping make sure you have planned your meals for the week. Therefore, when you go and do your weekly shop you know which meals you will be preparing throughout the week. Check what you already have in your cupboards and plan your meals around them.
Write a list
Once you have your meal plan in place, you will be able to write a shopping list for your shop. You need to make sure you stick to this list, to ensure that you don’t forget anything, and you don’t buy anything you don’t need. This will save you money and will also reduce the possibility of food waste.
Don’t shop whilst hungry
The worst time to shop is when you are hungry. If you do shop hungry you are more likely to buy snacks and more food than you need. Which then has the potential to become food waste.
Choose to shop at quieter times
Most people hate food shopping when it is busy, as they have a sense of urgency to move out of the way for a fellow shopper. If you shop during quieter times, you will have more time and space to make more sustainable decisions when choosing which food product to buy.
Look for seasonal foods
Foods that are out of season are both more expensive and will have a higher carbon footprint. This is because foods, such as fruit and vegetables that are out of season will most likely be grown abroad and imported into the UK. If you opt to buy seasonal produce, they are more likely to be grown locally, meaning they have a much lower carbon footprint, and they will probably be fresher.
For more information on when different fruits and vegetables are in season see our article on Seasonal Eating.
Not only does buying fairtrade help give farmers a fairer wage, but it also helps these farmers to combat climate change. The wage they receive through their fairtrade produce allows them to adapt their agricultural methods against climate change and encourages them to also protect the environment.
Organic agriculture is one of the most sustainable ways to produce food, as it emits less greenhouse gases than non-organic production, and it acts as a carbon tank. Roughly 1.5 tonnes of CO2 is absorbed by 1 hectare of organically cultivated farmland alone.
Make sure when you shop, you opt for fresh foods, especially when shopping for meat, fruit and vegetables. Fresh produce has lower emissions as it hasn’t been treated with preservatives and additives. Fresh produce also comes with less packaging meaning less waste. Most fresh produce also comes from local farms meaning there is less of an environmental impact due to a shorter journey from the food source to your plate.
Choose less meat
It is widely known that farming and eating animals creates large amounts of CO2, as well as other greenhouse gases that increase global warming. Choosing to swap just one of your meals that contains a red-meat product to a plant-based option instead would lower your carbon footprint significantly. If everyone decided to do the same, roughly 45 million tonnes of greenhouse gases would be prevented from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Look for biodegradable packaging
A lot of the products within our supermarkets are covered in plastic, which takes years to break down when it reaches landfill and will most likely release harmful microplastics. When choosing a product make sure you look at its packaging and choose a brand that has more sustainable packaging, such as packaging that can be recycled or composted.
Choose sustainable brands
Before you shop, do some research on the brands you usually buy from, and if they are not sustainable look for greener alternatives. Maybe consider switching to these brands instead.
Take your own bags
Remember to take multiple reusable bags with you to prevent the need to buy any single-use plastic bags. If you do need to purchase another bag, then opt for another reusable bag, or if you have driven, take the shopping to your car, still in the trolley and unload straight into the boot. If possible, leave a box in the back of the car for this purpose, which could cut out the need for a bag completely.