Have you heard of the phrase “shopping miles?” It’s not the most widely used term since it’s something we, as consumers, aren’t totally aware of. A short definition is the amount of energy or miles (kilometers for us here is Australia) it takes for a certain item to reach the supermarket shelves.
Let’s take frozen fish for instance. The pack may say New Zealand hoki but then on the back of the pack it will say “caught it New Zealand and processed in Thailand” which means, the fishing boat caught the fish in New Zealand waters travelled all the way to the processing plant in Thailand and then shipped all the way back to Australia for consumption. That one piece of frozen fish has travelled a long way and put an unnecessary large amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
Luckily as consumers we do have more sustainable choices on offer, here are 5 ways to reducing your “shopping miles”
Local green grocers, farmer markets and local bee keepers to name a few options that are commonly found in local communities. Buy shopping local you’re buying produce direct from the farmer/producer cutting out all the transport. Another benefit is that smaller, local producers yield better tasting products without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
With supermarkets stocking all sorts of fruit and veggies throughout the year it can be hard to distinguish what’s in-season but a key indicator is the price. Products that are in season generally are a lower price. Why would you want to shop in-season produce? Not only does it taste better but it’s also fresher and doesn’t need to travel around the globe to get to you.
Sometimes it can be hard to cut through the marketing speak to really understand if the products you’re buying are ethically sourced or where it came from. Is this fish sustainable sourced? Where are these frozen berries sourced? Are the almonds in your almond milk sustainably sourced and where do that come from? It’s a little annoying but by taking a little bit of time to read through the fine print can really help you make the sustainable choice.
Head to the op shop
From crazy hats to shiny roller skates, there’s always something fun to find at the local Vinnies or Red Cross shop. In reality this is the “purest” forms of recycling you can buy. It takes a lot of energy, water and waste to produce a cotton t-shirt. To put it into perspective it can take upwards of 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton for a t-shirt. By buying second-hand you’re contributing to a reduction of this essential resource.
Bring a bag
We know, it’s an “overused” term but we can’t shout it enough. By bringing your own bags and produce bags dramatically reduces your plastic consumption. Other great reusables are bread bags and paper bags.