1.) Use reusable bags- Yes, we have heard this a million times, and it is still insanely difficult to remember. Living in Portland has made this a little bit easier. It is illegal to use plastic bags in the city limits, so we remember to bring our bags out of fear that we are going to accumulate more paper bags. Anything but that! Additional bonus is that some stores offer discounts for using reusable bags, helping the earth and saving money? Win.
Along with this, keep in mind that using reusable bags should expand past your grocery bags and you should try to remember to reuse the produce bags as well. It is helpful to label your produce bags, so you don't have a taste cross contamination. You don't want you carrots tasting liking broccoli.
The Mister and I leave bags in the car at all times, so we always have them on hand.
Another example of this is buying pasta sauce: the great debate of whether to use can or jar. Jar is heavier than the can, so it uses more carbon emissions to arrive at the grocery store. If this was the only factor, I would definitely say choose the can. HOWEVER, we always reuse our jars for storage options, giving gifts, etc. Yes, cans can (tehehehe) be converted into art projects, but I feel like glassware has a higher overall usefulness in our household.
Pay attention to the packaging and wage what you could use it for.
3.) Less packaging-If you are debating on which product to get and they are fairly identical, you should try identifying which item has less packaging. I am constantly mortified about the amount of packaging on everyday objects. Great example: gum! You have the option to buy individual strips of gum that are wrapped in foil, in paper, in more paper, or you can choose the option with all of the pieces of gum thrown together in one big recyclable package of earthy gum goodness.
Buying in bulk assists in less packaging. If you buy a billion rolls of toilet paper, you only have that plastic lining around the outside instead of around each set of 4 rolls. Double bonus is that this is often cheaper. Who says greener has to be more expensive?
5.) Organic foods-When food is organic, it is absent from pesticides that disturb the ecosystem where the food is being grown. Shopping organic enables an existence of pesticide free zones.
While you are there, be conscious of buying all of your items at once, so you do not have to make multiple trips and therefore waste more gas and more of your time.
7.) Do your research- Create a list of products/companies that you purchase from and research what they are doing for the environment. Many companies have official statements on what their stance is, and you can learn about their food making process. Learning these things can enable you to make better decisions about who you support and what you are putting into your body.
I hope this is a nice little reminder of what we can all do to be a little more environmentally conscious. They don't have to be major life changes, but these little changes make a major change for the environment. I know that sounds corny, but it is true!