yellow mesh grocery bag with produce

Eco-friendly grocery shopping tips

With what’s going on in the world right now, how to grocery shop without waste might very well be the last thing on your mind. And understandably.

You get food and household goods where and when you can, and with certain items in short supply, you might not be able to get the most sustainable option.

And that’s ok.

But if you are looking for some more sustainable ways to stock up on food and essential household goods right now, here are some places to start.

For your convenience, this post contains some affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

Tips on creating an environmentally friendly grocery list

Buy in bulk

When you can, buy products in larger quantities to reduce overall packaging. If stores are offering multiple sizes, buy the biggest one you can get. For example, many months ago we bought two 25-pound bags of dried chickpeas that we’re still making our way through

If the quantity available is too much for your family, consider splitting it up and bartering with a friend or neighbor. (Or, if you’re feeling generous, just gift it.)

Mom, dad, son, and daughter preparing a healthy meal

Buy food that’s better for the environment

Stock up on plant-based pantry items that have a long shelf life, such as beans and rice.

Buy local

As much as possible, buy food that was grown locally (or at least in your region) to reduce the carbon footprint of having to travel a far distance. I also firmly believe that as much as possible we should be supporting our small local businesses, including grocery and home good stores. More than ever, they need our support.

Save those food scraps

Now’s as good a time as any to be more economical and reduce food waste. Instead of chucking away food scraps, you can hold on to them to make stock and vinegar.

Bag in the car

Even if you can’t use reusable bags right now at grocery store, after you check out and pay, put your food back into the cart without any bags. When you get to the car, move the food from your cart directly to your reusable bags in your car. (Thanks to my friend, Abby, for this tip!)

Where to get sustainable groceries

You’ll find a mix of online green grocery stores, as well some general local options.

Local farms

Farms are really hurting right now and are actually throwing away food because they can’t get it to consumers. Food waste is a massive contributor to climate change, so in my opinion, one of the best things you can do is to support local farms.

Is there a favorite farm you always hit up at the farmer’s market? Go to their website and see what options they’re currently offering in regards to delivery or pickup. You can also sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) if they haven’t yet been filled up. Check out what farms are closest to you here.

Also, check to see if your local Farmer’s Market is still offering something. For example, you can preorder through our local one and pick up on Saturday (the day it normally runs).

Small, local grocery stores

While they might not necessarily be any more eco-friendly than the big-name grocery store where you usually shop, I do believe it’s important to support them. This is especially true if they sell food from local farms.

I was pleasantly surprised last week when I did a small grocery run at Neighborhood Produce and they had forgone plastic bags and put all my produce into one paper bag.

(Of course, the downside to everything right now is you can’t really use your reusable bags, but that should be the least of our worries right now!)

toddler in a kitchen playing with a set of steel food containers

Restaurant supply stores

A lot of restaurants right now are either closed or not operating at full capacity. And since most restaurants need super large quantities of food, those items might likely not be making it to your local grocery store, even if we do seem to be constantly out of specific items at the grocery store.

Go right to the source. We got a 50-pound bag of flour and a massive amount of eggs thanks to a friend contacting a local restaurant supply store.

While 50 pounds of flour might seem ridiculous, we gave some to my in-laws and a couple friends. Use random jars and food containers you’ve saved to package bulk items and share with friends and family.

And if you’re short on toilet paper, I’ve heard they may be selling industrial-sized rolls. (Desperate times!)

Misfits Market

Misfits Market is a weekly subscription box of “ugly” organic produce, with the idea being that they’re trying to avoid throwing out food that wouldn’t otherwise make it to the grocery store due to some superficial flaw. They also offer add-on pantry items.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with them and the produce we’ve received. They offer two sizes, and we’ve been getting the smaller one.

Use the coupon code COOKWME-VO0PDN to get 25% off your first box at Misfits Market.

**Please note: at the time of this writing, they’re currently sold out and there is a waitlist**

Imperfect Foods

I have not personally tried them, but Imperfect Foods is similar to Misfits Market. It looks like they may offer non-food items in addition to produce and pantry items, as well as dairy and meat.

They also offer an option for a reduce-cost box for those who need financial assistance.

**At the time of writing, it appears that there is a delay in getting new subscriptions for them. I just signed up to try them out, but will find out in May.**

Where to get earth friendly households goods

EarthHero

EarthHero offers a wide variety of household goods from ethical companies that help the planet. Stock up on zero-waste and low-waste household items such as toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes, soap, etc.

Baking soda, lemon and scrub brush

MightyNest

MightyNest also offers a great selection of low-waste home cleaning goods, including dish soap (even a dish soap bar now!), sponges, and bar soaps. If you’re looking to try toothpaste tablets, they offer Unpaste Tooth Tabs. Not my favorite (it was a bit chalky), but better than nothing!

Zero Waste Cartel

I have not personally shopped from them, but Zero Waste Cartel has a good selection of low-waste items. (Their stuff is a bit on the pricer end, just a heads up.)

Toilet Paper

Unfortunately places that I would normally recommend seem to be out of environmentally-friendly toilet paper. Now might be a good time to consider getting a bidet, which ultimately uses fewer resources than toilet paper. (And apparently, is more hygienic.)

Local to Boston

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just what I’ve used or has been recommended to me. I will be adding to the list as I get more recommendations.

Mass Food delivery

Mass Food Delivery is a consortium of farms around Massachusetts working together to deliver farm fresh food. There are some mixed produce boxes, large bags of apples, wheels of cheese (and smaller quantities), milk, and other local fruits and veggies available for purchase.

Baldor’s

Baldor’s is a restaurant supply company that is currently selling to consumers. They seem to offer every category of food, and there is also local organic produce available for purchase.

Last I heard, the quantities are quite large and there is a $250 minimum, so best to do this with a group of people. I have not yet personally used them, but my friend had a good experience with them.

Neighborhood Produce

Located in Winter Hill, Neighborhood Produce is small grocery store offering contactless grocery pickup. Most of their food items are sourced locally (including milk in glass bottles that can be returned, yay!).

Al freshco

Al freshco offers locally-sourced vegan meal kits with minimal packaging delivered to your home.

Stillman Quality Meats

While we don’t eat a ton of meat, Stillman’s is our go-to source of local meat. They’re currently offering delivery.

Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market

You can still order from some farms and pick up on Saturday at the Armory when they normally offer their Saturday market.

And as always, before you make a purchase, make sure you ask yourself these questions to help you be environmentally focused.

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