Updated: Sep 19
Did you know that plastic bags take 1,000 years to degrade? And they don’t even break down completely? Instead, they photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins, thus continuing to pollute the environment.
Fortunately, there are little changes you can make to reduce plastic bag waste and shop more sustainably, no matter if you’re shopping for clothes, food, or home goods, in person or online.
What is Sustainable Packaging?
“Sustainable packaging refers to the sourcing, development, and use of packaging solutions that have minimal environmental impact and footprint.”
Simply put, sustainable packaging is environmentally-friendly and is a much more earth-friendly alternative to plastic packaging.
Packaging is sustainable when it
Is safe for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle
Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
Uses renewable or recycled source materials
Is manufactured using clean production technologies
Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
How to Shop Sustainably
Now that you have a better understanding of what sustainable packaging is, what are some ways to contribute less to harmful packaging?
The easiest way to achieve this is to bring your own reusable bags when shopping. There are so many awesome bags with cool designs to choose from. You’ll look so much cooler walking around in the store with a reusable bag and not needing a bag when you checkout. It’s a win-win!
Another way is to ensure that the packages of products you purchase are eco-friendly. You’ll know the packaging is environmentally friendly if you see one of these logos on it:
You can also shop sustainably by being a conscious shopper.
A Conscious Shopper at the Grocery Store
Being a conscious shopper means putting in the effort to have an effective and efficient overall shopping experience. Grocery shopping can result in a lot of plastic package consumption. Here are a couple things you can do before heading to the grocery store to reduce your use of plastic package. These only take a few minutes!
Taking inventory of the groceries you already have at home will help you decide if you need another bag of fruits, vegetables, chips, etc. You don’t want to buy groceries you already have at home. When you purchase these, you are also paying for the packaging of the groceries. This could result in unnecessary plastic and food waste.
Making a meal plan by writing out your grocery list will help you know exactly which items you need to pick up from the store. Not only will you not get tempted to buy groceries that you don’t know if you’ll use, you’ll know exactly what to cook and eat the rest of the week.
Buying produce from farmers markets is another fun and great way to reduce packing consumption. Looking up when and where the next farmers market is taking place is very simple and only requires a Google search. A bonus from shopping at farmers markets is that you’ll get locally grown items that are fresher than what can be bought at the store. These are also not individually packaged for you, so you won’t have to worry about your produce being put in unnecessary plastic bags. Instead, these fresh produce can go right into your reusable bag after your purchase.
Zero waste stores are growing in popularity. Shopping at these stores is another way to ensure sustainable shopping.
Zero Waste Stores
While Zero Waste Stores may be a bit more expensive, they are a great way to get higher quality and more sustainable products compared to other chain supermarkets.
The goal of these stores is to eliminate all packaging and food waste from a store's operation. Here are some tips to make your trip to a Zero Waste Store a success:
Bring your own reusable produce bags
Bring your own glass jars or other containers (extra sustainable if you upcycle products you already purchased like yogurt jars)
Buy in bulk
Shop when you aren't hungry
Local Companies That Practice Sustainable Packaging
Support local businesses that are dedicated to bettering the environment! What’s better than shopping small and sustainable? Here are some of our favorite companies based in the Twin Cities that practice sustainability!
Tare Market – Minnesota’s first Zero Waste Store
Spoils of Wear – A fashion boutique practicing ethical and sustainable shopping
Hazel and Rose – A shop whose goal is to showcase high-quality brands that are well-made, sustainable, and ethical
Zero(ish) – A shop dedicated to making sustainable and zero waste products easily accessible to Twin Cities folks
Homebody MN – A trans-owned and an environmentally-friendly company selling 100% soy candles and used books
Shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be difficult. By making a couple changes to your shopping habits, being a conscious shopper and supporting eco-friendly companies, you can be an earth-friendly shopper. We hope that we were able to inspire you to not only look, but also be, 10x cooler by shopping sustainably!
Send us a picture of your most recent clean purchase to @imaginewecould for a chance to be featured on our Instagram!