We all have a role to play in supporting a clean environment and eco friendly practices in Britain. Farming and buying organic is just one way of reducing the impact of food production and consumption on the environment. Here are 5 other ways you can help by changing your weekly shopping habits:

1) Buy locally produced goods.

You’ll help support local farmers and manufacturers as well as reducing the ‘air-miles’ of your food which contribute to carbon dioxide pollution. You may not realise how much of your regular grocery shop comes from abroad. Look for notes on the packaging indicating the country of origin. Eating seasonal produce in particular will reduce the amount of imported veg you buy. It should taste better too as there is more chance that it will have been ripened on the tree or plant before picking rather than after.

You can set up regular deliveries of organic meat from Peelham Farm such as the Alternative Organic Monthly Meat Box.

2) Reduce the amount of packaging in your basket.

Buying loose vegetables reduces the amount of unnecessary plastic waste and is in fact better for your fruit and veg too. Keeping vegetables, meat or cheese in plastic causes them to spoil more quickly as it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. ‘Refill’ varieties of products tend to have less packaging e.g. bags of coffee that you can transfer into a jar for easy use at home.

If you can’t buy loose produce then buy bulk produce to reduce the ratio of packaging to actual food. Buying small amounts of food that are extensively packaged means you’re producing a lot of waste each time you shop. A large freezer will ensure the extra food doesn’t spoil before you can use it.

3) Support free range

The demand for chicken has caused many suppliers to use hormones, drugs and genetic modification to encourage fast and enlarged growth among their chicken populations. This is neither kind to the animals or the best choice for the consumer. True, it reduces the price of meat, allowing poorer families to buy chicken but what’s the true price? Artificially enlarged chicken lacks the flavour of more slowly reared meat and risks human consumption of the growth hormones on which the chicken was rapidly fattened. Look for ‘organic’ ‘free range’ meat that clearly states how the animals were raised. By supporting free range farming you’ll reduce the amount of chemicals used in food production and higher animal welfare standards.

4) Buy less processed food.

Processed foods such as cheese slices and ready meals contain chemicals in order to give them their long shelf life. They also tend to come in rather a lot of packaging which requires chemicals to produce and ends up as inorganic waste straight after you’ve eaten your meal.

Furthermore the many ‘processes’ which this food goes through contributes to a large amount of carbon dioxide pollution. Eating more healthily is better for your body and the environment.

5) Take you own bags.

If you always get plastic bags with every shop you’ve probably got a drawer full at home or perhaps you routinely throw out the bags you buy. Over 8 million plastic bags are used in England alone every year. This is perhaps one of the most wasteful habits of British shoppers.

A plastic bag levy has been proposed for England but the details are still a point of contention in government, delaying the process bringing it in. Wales already has a plastic bag levy which has resulted in 70% less consumption of plastic bags.

You can take responsibility for your shopping habits without waiting for government policy to be confirmed. Do your wallet and the environment a favour and take a bag with you wherever you go out for those spur of the moment purchases. Take a whole bunch with you when you go on a planned shopping trip and soon you’ll see a difference in the cost and the waste generated by your shopping habits. A ‘bag for life’ is a useful accessory, lasting a long time (if not for life) and beating out regular plastic bags when it comes to carrying a heavy load.