Dearest readers,

grocery storeSometimes when I’m down in the stacks researching answers to your latest dilemmas, I enjoy taking a stroll down Ask Umbra archives lane. Here are some glossy tidbits I culled from my past advice on lessening your impact when it comes to grocery shopping. Have any of your own green grocery tips? Let me know in the comments section below or shoot me an email.

  • Let your guilt out of the bag.
    You probably already know the answer to “Paper or plastic?” is neither — opt for a reusable bag. However, for those times you forget your own bag, please don’t beat yourself up. Instead put that energy toward figuring out a way to remember the bags next time. Since there’s no clear lesser evil between the paper and plastic options, just flip a coin. And remember, you can put that plastic grocery bag to reuse as a vinyl-free shower cap. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
  • Pull the cart before the horse.
    If your market is within walking distance but you need to stock up on a week’s worth of groceries, ditch the car in favor of a cart. A wagon, stroller (minus the kid), or folding utility cart will all do the trick — saving your back and our dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
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  • Protect and conserve.
    Miffed about the wasted energy at your supermarket from open-air coolers? Approach your favorite grocer and offer to help look into money-saving conservation options. Sure, they may see you as a meddling loony, but, being that grocery stores operate on a low profit margin, cost reductions are vital — so they may just take you up on it. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
  • Meat your needs.
    Pork chops are on sale! You don’t want them to go to waste, do you? Uh, yes, actually, you do. Non-participation is one way to protest conventional meat production (dirty details, anyone?), and if demand dwindles, then ideally supply would follow. If meat’s a must, try eating it less frequently and opting for local/free-range-raised when you do. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
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  • Veg out.
    Opt for fresh, local vegetables whenever possible. However, if for some reason you can’t purchase fresh veggies and have to go the frozen or canned route, pick high-quality processed vegetables with no additives, eat frozen vegetables within two weeks, and religiously recycle steel cans. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.