NATURAL SOUTH: Eco grocery shopping
Sometimes green shopping means re-thinking the way you shop. Consider the packaging when choosing products. (Courtesy: The Southern Company)
David: It’s fantastic to be eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s even better if we can look for organic foods. Generally they’re gonna have more minerals and the earth is a little bit more cared for. There’s a little bit more natural agriculture. Really good to be buying locally-grown produce because then there’s less fossil fuels in transporting the food. And if you can grow at home, it’s even better, because then there’s no cost of transporting the food. You just go out and pick it yourself.
When you're shopping, things that you can look for include Styrofoam containers, which are used in many foam products, not very environmentally friendly. You can also begin to move towards plastic containers. These aren’t great for the environment, but they do biodegrade. It takes about 400 years. And then another choice is that many of these types of new packages are actually made out of recycled cardboard and can be broken down by the environment.
Bulk buying gives us the opportunity to get back to the original idea of purchasing food. This is how our ancestors did it. They did it out of necessity. People would bring in barrels of food and we’d just get to pick how much we wanted and what we wanted. Now we’re getting back to this more out of ecological responsibility. And we see here that there’s no packaging. There’s no cardboard; there’s no plastic. So we have a lot less of an environmental impact when we buy in bulk.
When selecting body care products, it’s better to go with bigger. That way we get more product and less packaging. Another thing is we should really begin to read labels. There’s a couple of ingredients that end up in our body care products that once we wash with, they go into the drain, and they end up getting to our rivers, our estuaries, and our oceans. Two of the big ones are propylene glycol and another one is sodium laurel sulfate. Sodium laurel sulfate is an engine degreaser. It suds up. And you can see this when it comes down to the ocean and you see some of those suds in the estuaries or the bayou or even in the ocean. Another product, the propylene glycol, that’s a petroleum byproduct and it damages fish in our rivers.
In an attempt to find more ecological and economically-friendly ways of packaging foods, some of the large food corporations have actually done what’s called a lifecycle assessment on the environmental impact of the food packaging that they’re creating. One company has decided it’s better to go with a lighter type of plastic that costs so much less in shipping and uses far less fossil fuels. Another company has decided that they would go with glass, because glass is more environmentally friendly. Another company has even gone so far as to use cardboard packaging and that way it’s more recyclable. It’s also lighter and it’s damage-resistant when its being shipped.
As we’re checking out from our shopping, often we hear, “Will that be paper or plastic?” Plastic is a choice that is recyclable. So let’s make use of that resource. Otherwise it’s gonna take about 400 years for this to degrade in the environment. Another choice is paper, which is also recyclable. It’s even better. And the best choice is actually bringing your own bags.
Narrator: Even if your local grocery store doesn’t offer bulk foods or a lot of eco-friendly packaging, just recycling your plastic bags can make a difference. If we all do the little things, the big payoff is cleaner water, less landfills, and more natural places to enjoy.
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