Global warming and climate change are larger-than-life crises. But you can find solutions to the problem closer to home and on the ground | Photo by Jack Sparrow from Pexels

Notes on Sustainability: Simple ‘Every Year’s’ Resolutions to Make at the Grocery Store

Besides shopping at zero-waste and plastic-free grocery stores, you can do your part in other viable ways

Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke
3 min readJan 15, 2022


Plastic is everywhere. And sadly, you’re confronted by so much of the material right at your local grocery store. Tackling food and material waste ought to begin right there and then — in your basket.

Because most shopping activity takes place at the grocery store, taking action there is the prime difference that you can make, beyond other retail sectors like the fashion or the travel industry.

You can help to decrease the amount of needless — and sometimes senseless — packaging on your end by making wise in-store and online selections through these thoughtful resolutions.

Reduce Your Travel When it Comes to Food

Because “food miles” contribute to the overall carbon footprint, albeit not nearly as much as that of many production processes, it’s important to buy and support locally whenever possible.

Decipher Dates: “Best Before” and “Use By”

To keep food waste to a minimum, familiarize yourself with the distinction between “best before” and “use-by” dates.

It can be quite confusing at times. However, while the former indicates that the item is still edible after the posted date, the implication is that it isn’t in its best condition.

On the contrary, the latter dates concern food safety purposes, and they illustrate items that should not be consumed beyond the specified date — unless you make it in time to freeze them.

It Helps to Be Organized: For You and For Earth

While your kitchen may show signs of bloating — too many cans of tuna or condiments of peppers — it’s pretty crucial to have some sort of a game plan in place to have all of that under control. And such organization is important for the sake of making your shopping trips as seamless and as sustainable as possible.

Through better meal planning, not only will you save yourself time at the store but also the temptation for superfluous, spontaneous food purchases. Besides, by knowing how your week will look like with food, you’ll prevent food waste.

Be Mindful of Plastic Packaging

Although it’s more often cheaper to buy produce pre-packaged, it’s best to opt for loose fruits and vegetables, instead of multi-packs to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic packaging.

And the same goes for every other section beyond the plant-exclusive area of the store. Where you’ll most often find the other departments at the peripheries — the seafood counter, the deli counter, and the meat station — try to bring your own set of reusable containers to them. Kindly ask them to place the food in there, instead, if it’s allowed.

Yet, wherever possible, seek recyclable packaging, in place of something that needs to be kept fresh in that of plastic. But double check the recycling instructions on the items, such that you keep your end of the clean recycling bargain.

From an environmental perspective, what bothers you the most during your grocery visits? In what ways are you coping with it as much as you possibly can?

Related: Shopping for One: Incorporate These Actionable Tips Beyond Budgeting



Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke

A curious creative with an appetite for words and stories, Jarvis covers food and home topics between exploring the kitchen and the home.