How To Go Grocery Shopping Sustainably

Going zero-waste might be the right thing to do for the planet, but it is certainly not the easiest to accomplish. Almost every grocery store you visit will have food packaged and stored behind layers and layers of plastic. Most foods are produced with high carbon emissions. It costs both your wallet and the planet way more than it should.

Practicing sustainable measures while grocery shopping is the only solution to this lifestyle problem that impacts Earth as much as it impacts us. To make your journey towards a sustainable life more accessible, there are 8 tips you can follow. Let’s dive in.

1. Bring Your Own Reusable Bags

Statistics suggest that nearly 40% of all the plastic produced every year is single-use plastic used for packaging. This kind of plastic is really difficult to recycle as it gets tangled in the machinery and interferes with robotic sensors used in the recycling process. Their obvious fate is ending up in landfills and water bodies where they have detrimental impacts on the environment.

Each time you purchase something that uses single-use plastics, you contribute to the growing plastic crisis. Bringing your own grocery shopping bags really pays off in this scenario. If you resolve to bring your own reusable bags and containers, you can say “no” to single-use plastic every time while grocery shopping. With a few storage and organization tips, incorporating reusable bags and containers into your life can be easy as pie.

2. Buy Loose Produce

While we’re on the topic of plastic packaging, you should know that using reusable bags only works when you buy loose produce. Putting a container of packaged vegetables or meat in your tote bag defeats the purpose. You are still creating significant plastic waste. To prevent this, visit stores that contain fresh, unwrapped foods.

Buying loose produce helps you control the amount you want to buy and save money in the process. In organic stores, you will find a wide range of loose products — fruits, vegetables, spices, pasta, cereals, rice, biscuits, and much more! In a supermarket, however, most of these products will be wrapped in plastic.

3. Steer Clear of Processed Food

How much do you pay for packets of chips, biscuits, or cookies per month? $20? $50? More? Try spending that amount on buying whole, raw ingredients. You’ll easily make twice as much food that’s thrice as healthy!

It’s called “shopping the perimeter”. When you shop the perimeter, you buy your cheese and pasta separately instead of buying a box of microwaveable mac and cheese. Better yet, make your own pasta from scratch!

Processed food comes with a lot of drawbacks: huge carbon footprint, higher costs, loss of nutrients, unhealthy additives, and excessive packaging, just to name a few. These impair your health, tarnish the environment, and snowball your grocery bill. You can live a much healthier life by sacrificing snacks and easy food options for more healthy recipes.

4. Opt for a Plant-Based Diet

Does making your own pasta sound like an odious task to you? Were you thinking of veering towards meat more? If so, think twice! Eating a predominantly animal-based diet can be even more detrimental than eating overly processed food.

Plant-based foods have a smaller carbon-footprint. Most animal-based foods are way more resource intensive and harmful for the environment. A study found that beef production requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas than common plant-based protein sources such as beans, peas and lentils. Chicken and pork require thrice the amount of resources as plants.

5. Read the Labels

Labels can reveal so many secrets about how the food is produced and the impact it has on the environment. Not all processed food and meat out there hurts the planet. Some of it is responsibly and consciously produced. Certain food labels can certify that. Lookout for trustable certifications like Fair Trade, American Grassfed, Organic, Bird Friendly, Animal Welfare Approved, Safe Catch, BPI Compostable, Non-GMO, and so on. Eat responsibly!

6. Shop Local and In-Season

Food can have a high emission tag if it is transported from somewhere far away or exported from another part of the world. This is often the case when we try to eat fruits or vegetables that are not in season. This means more energy consumption, higher carbon emission, and outrageous prices.

If you eat what is locally grown around you, you consume food with negligible carbon emissions and low prices. Shopping from your local farmers’ market is a great way to start.

7. Know Your Plastics

Sometimes, purchasing items with plastic packaging is unavoidable if you do not have any plastic-free alternatives at your local grocery stores. In such dire scenarios, check the plastic resin identification number. It’ll be a small code inside of a triangle. This symbol reveals which type of plastic is used to make a packaging material.

Always go for HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics since they are more easily recyclable than other kinds of plastic. Learn more about recycling and upcycling to keep yourself updated about ways you can repurpose plastic containers.

8. Always Carry a List and Never Go In Hungry

Going grocery shopping without a list is how you get confused. Going in hungry is how you lose focus and self-control. The result is buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Overbuying leads to food wastage. Annually, Americans waste 30-40% of the US food supply. You sure don’t want to contribute to this number.

Happy Shopping!

If you’re already living a pretty sustainable lifestyle, the above tips will only add to it. And if your next grocery trip is going to be your first attempt at being sustainable, following these tips will make for an effortless transition into this lifestyle. Either way, more power to you!

Author Bio:

Carolyn Mitchell is a freelance writer and content strategist with a passion for home décor. She can often be found re-painting and updating the furnishings in her home, and she is also a dedicated cat mom to two adorable kitties.

5 Signs Your Current Lifestyle Will Lead to Your Financial Demise

Your lifestyle is very closely tied to your finances, as it often indicates how much you spend. Living frugally or spending with abandon are two very different lifestyle experiences, and the results of each will clearly show in your bank balance.

Here are five signs that mean you are heading for a cliff edge in terms of your financial situation.

1. You’re not saving 5%

Advice from experts suggests that you should be putting aside at least 10% of your income each month, if not 15%. But if you aren’t even managing to put 5% in your savings, then you are definitely living beyond your means. It’s even worse if you haven’t been able to put any savings aside at all.

If you feel like you can’t save that much each month, then you may need to cut back on your spending. Maybe that means not going out to dinner, limiting yourself to non-luxury items when shopping for groceries, or cutting back on some of your subscriptions. If you’re already living as frugally as possible and still not making savings, then the truth of the matter is that you’re simply not earning enough. Downsizing your home and looking for another source of income could be the solution in this case.

2. You don’t have an emergency fund

Everyone should have an emergency fund – again, experts recommend that you have around nine months’ worth of living expenses set aside, the minimum amount of money you would need to live during that time if you didn’t have any income at all. Why? Because life happens. You might find yourself unable to work, or suddenly lose your job – even if you have been an exemplary employee so far. You could crash your car and have your insurance fail to pay out, or lose your home in an accident which is not covered by your policy.

Vet bills, medical bills, legal fees, a broken-down car or boiler – these are all expenses which can come up from time to time and really knock you for six. You need to be prepared for these situations. If you aren’t, then you could have a nasty surprise waiting around the corner which could leave you bankrupt or in heavy debt.

3. You’re paying overdraft fees (or credit card fees)

It came to the end of the month, and you didn’t have quite enough to get you through to the next payday. Now you’ve got overdraft charges on your account – or you might even have credit card fees to pay until you pay them off. This is a bad situation, as it is the beginning of a spiral into debt. In both situations, you are being charged extra money because of the fact that you didn’t have enough to begin with.

When this happens, you should see it as a huge red flag and stop spending right away. Don’t be tempted to put more things on a credit card.

An interesting technique you can use is to stop paying with your card at all, and instead use a cash envelope system. Withdraw your money for the week or the month, and divide it into envelopes for specific purposes: groceries, shopping, going out, and so on. When the envelope is empty, you just have to stop spending in that category – simple as that.

4. You don’t have a budget

Not having a budget in place might seem fine when you have enough money to make ends meet easily. However, it’s a problematic situation to be in when one of those emergency situations strikes. Suddenly, you are spending far more than you can afford, and you have to suddenly put on the brakes to try and learn how to budget for the first time.

Set a budget now, and learn how to stick to it, as well as what constitutes a realistic budget based on your spending habits. This will help you a lot when changes in your situation occur.

5. You spend out of fear

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is something that can drive us to spend money on crazy things. Do you really need that new piece of Victorian furniture, or are you just scared that you’ll never get another chance like that again? Don’t let fear dictate your spending. Don’t overspend on going out just to keep up with your friends, or buy a house you can’t afford the payments on because you want people to be impressed. It’s a road to nowhere.

By recognizing these signs and making changes now, you might be able to turn things around. Don’t let the worst happen – get in control of your lifestyle now, and stop your finances from suffering.

About Alana: Alana Downer is a personal finance expert and an avid blogger, who often shares her money tips and tricks online. Alana is also a part of the team behind Learn to Trade – a useful resource for all those who wish to start trading and investing. Should you have comments or questions, feel free to contact Alana on her Twitter.

50 Photos To Take With Your Children

9370_627723203924438_135862117_nI have actually used this list to take a few of these photos. Some can be very dramatic. My wife and I took a photo of our hands and rings in front of her wedding dress and we took pictures of our children with our hands with theirs and also our hands together over time. It shows our age as wrinkles and rough skin show over time but it still shows the love we had is still there just like it was over a decade ago.

Some of these are a bit special and you may not even think about taking pictures of these special moments – but why not? So many people focus on taking pictures of just the special events like birthdays, Christmas, sporting event, choir, etc. But why not take pictures of your kids sleeping and of you both eating ice cream, or of them eating something messy and allowing kids to be kids.

I recently purchased a cell phone that can take really good photographs so when i am out and about (especially with the kids) I can take photos of them doing what kids do. Photos even in a store capturing a special moment can be a great picture.

…. and one of the best reasons to have a digital camera is that you can take several photos – come on – you are not wasting anything. We always take about five of each posed photo and I am known to take photos in succession. Then when you upload them on the computer you can delete ones that are not just right. Also keep your photos that arnt just right in a yearly ‘bloopers’ file. These can be really entertaining made into a ‘bloopers’ slideshow for everyone to watch.

Love this picture of a newborn with the Dad's and Mom's hands to either side and their rings placed on the toes of the wee one. A true symbol of their love.

Love this picture of a newborn with the Dad’s and Mom’s hands to either side and their rings placed on the toes of the wee one. A true symbol of their love.

Candy Cane Candle Holder / Placecard Holder SIMPLE

47310_301268786658094_1510707828_nWhat a wonderful creation that would make great candle holders. Even making enough for a little take home keepsake for each of your guests would not be costly and be very unique. You will need eight wrapped candy canes. Start with two and continue hot gluing each as you go along. You will not need a lot of glue and low setting is just fine. When you get about half way through you will need to keep the candle in place as well so it will all look just right when you finish off with the eighth candy cane. Finish with a ribbon and bow. You could also make smaller versions of these with just four candy canes and use them as name tag holders. Make sure the ‘hook’ of the candy canes stay on a flat surface to make sure your end product can stand on its own. This will be such a great addition to your Christmas party and everyone will really enjoy them.


Creating Memories During The Holiday Season

295757_366398673449765_1321707704_nFor as long as I can remember my home as always been decorated from top to bottom with every nook and corner having just the right decoration from when I was young to now. I remember my Mom always making our Christmas special in every way that she could from baked goods to a tree that often had more than one ornament per branch. Garlands and lights were strung inside and out and walls and doors were always marked with something festive to help celebrate. Yes, my family has been told more than once that it looks like Christmas threw up in our home but we don’t care.

Special times and celebrations have always been important during this time of year and making keepsakes is always important. The picture above shows the cut off end of a Christmas tree made into an ornament which makes for a cherished keepsake. Just use a cut disk from the bottom trunk and write a message with a sharpie. Drill a hole and use wire or ribbon to make a loop and bow to hang.

I often will keep little pieces of wrapping papers and tags from presents. I trim them nicely into squares and bundle them together often with just a staple. I have had meaning to place them in scrapbooks but our family has kept photos more digitally then printing them out these past few years. I have also thought about Modge-Podging them to pre-cut forms that would make nice keepsake ornaments. They go into our memory boxes that each person in the family has and I hope the kids enjoy these memory reminders when they are older..

Ornaments seem to always be in abundance in my home as each year each family member gets one that represents something significant that occurred that year. I am always finding ornaments in repair and take the time to do just that even though we can never use them all. I have marked years and names on them and I suppose in the years after I am no longer here that they will find their way to who they belong. Until then these will remain with me as special little memory reminders.

Special dinners and present giving is always important to me as well. I find finding that special present and even the perfect wrapping paper for my loved ones fun to do. I know I hear a lot that many consider it a chore – and I always reply if it is such a burden don’t do it. I do not personally care if I receive anything or not in return but always find special and thoughtful gifts mean more than expensive costly presents.

I am also one of those obnoxious people who send out a family newsletter – and some may think it is obnoxious but others start asking when they will get it if it is taking a little longer than usual to get it. I do try to keep it short and concise but always bear in mind that some of the information may be of no interest to you but someone else may want o hear about it. I also send several pictures out so people can see some of our years events. I have cut my list of those who I send to down as the years go on – those who send nothing or barely take the time to even sign a card I feel would prefer to cease communication and I have started to oblige.

The packing up of all of the decorations and keepsakes always takes a few days in my home but I enjoy taking the time to put them all away because the more time that is devoted to putting them away the easier it is to unpack – and enjoy reliving the memories the following year.

What special things do you do for the holidays to help create memories? How to you create little keepsakes other than pictures? What special events does your family partake in this time of year?