5 ways to make your Toronto grocery trips more sustainable

Jul 14 2020, 7:13 pm

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Living in the city has the potential to make one feel pretty disconnected from nature.

But one way to bridge the gap between skyscrapers and sky-high treetops is by trying to live more sustainably, because preserving the planet can help us feel more connected to it.

Weekly grocery trips are a great place to begin upping sustainable action, and we’ve worked out five tips that will help you do just that.

Read on to learn how you can make your Toronto grocery shopping more sustainable:

Shop farmers markets


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One way to make food shopping more eco-friendly is by cutting out some of the big, carbon-footprint-leaving steps that exist between food’s start-point and your kitchen. There’s a solid chance, for example, that the bananas at your local grocery chain, have travelled on a plane, train, or automobile to get to a Toronto shop.

To help cut down on the need for transportation of goods, check out which farmers markets are operating in your area so you can support local farmers offering seasonal produce.



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Whether you’re hitting the farmers’ market or the big chain grocery store, we recommend bringing along reusable bags. Canvas, crochet, patterned or handmade, reusable bags are light, easy to roll up and stuff in a pocket, and — honestly — way cuter than plastic ones.

While there are many benefits to bringing useable bags along for a shopping excursion, the greatest one by far is that they help to keep plastic bags out of circulation.

Also, many stores have begun charging customers for plastic bags, so not only will bringing your own bag help save the environment, but it’ll save you a few cents, too. Rolling one up and keeping it in your backpack, purse, or briefcase is a good way to be sure you always have one handy.

Skip out on those little plastic baggies


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Similar to bringing your own bag, we also suggest simply ditching the idea of a bag when it isn’t necessary. Your grocery store’s produce section is likely still stocked with flimsy plastic bags meant for plopping cucumbers, tomatoes, or apples into, but we ask you: why bother?

Instead of bagging your individual produce items, give them a solid wash when you get home. If you’re really keen on having them separated from your other goods, we recommend designating a couple of your reusable bags just for fruits and veggies.

Pick imperfect


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According to Toronto-based food rescue Second Harvest, 58% of all the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted.

A survey completed by the organization found that “consumers do not buy imperfect fruits and vegetables and will sift through bins, bruising the fruit with their touch and only selecting what they deem ‘perfect,” …  produce that is not sold is typically sent to landfill, unless the retailer is connected to a food rescue operation.”

Less-than-perfect aesthetics are just one reason food is wasted, but it’s an avoidable one. The lumpy strawberry will still taste like summer and the bruised part of the apple can be dipped in caramel to make it doubly sweet. Sometimes, items that are a little “ugly” will be sold with a slight discount, which means you can save nourishing food from the landfill while respecting your wallet. Buy the weird-looking bell pepper. It’s a win-win.

Plan ahead


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Also according to Second Harvest, 21% of avoidable food loss and waste in Canada happens in the home. This, the organization says, is due to “throwing out leftovers, discarding food that has reached its best before date, and by purchasing too much food, which is then thrown away.”

One way you can combat this problem in your own kitchen is by going food shopping with a plan. If you have an idea of what you want to eat for dinner this week and whether you’ll really make it through a whole slat of strawberries before they rot, you’ll be able to fill your basket with food that won’t be wasted.

Sit down before you head out for your grocery run and create a loose plan for what’s on the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu for the week. Also, note what treat you might want to grab to squash sweet or salty cravings, or simply budget a few dollars for whatever looks fun to try.

Have a snack before you go, too… because we all know what happens when people grocery shop while hungry.

DH Toronto StaffDH Toronto Staff

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