Is Sustainable Shopping Possible?

Is Sustainable Shopping Possible?

I discovered that the word "sustainability," widely used in recent years, was first used in 1992 during the first UN Conference on the Environment.

I looked up the definition, first in the dictionary, and then I found the broader meaning online: "the condition of a development model capable of ensuring the satisfaction of the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own."

The goal of sustainable development is to maintain a constant balance between the environment, economy, and society, to meet the needs of all of us and to ensure better living conditions for future generations. Each of us can contribute, through daily actions and choices, to the realization of this ambitious and necessary condition for our present and future on Earth.

We are fortunate to go shopping every day or whenever we need to, so we have enormous power. Every action we take can make a difference. Have you ever thought about it?

Let's start with "where" to do the shopping.

Do you remember during the pandemic when we were forced to stay close to home? Well, this unpleasant memory could be turned into a first beneficial suggestion for our health and the environment:

-> Walk (or cycle) to do the shopping, preferring small retailers, such as the grocery store near your home or workplace, or the greengrocer that may also have local products.

In this way, we contribute to reducing:

the frequency of supermarket shopping and the related risk of buying excess food, harmful both to the individual's health and to the community (food waste, increased garbage production)

CO2 emissions due to car travel

-> Speaking of waste: remember to prepare a list of what you need to avoid spending and buying more than necessary.

-> Wherever you decide to shop, remember to bring reusable canvas or thick plastic bags with you (so they can be used over and over again); keep them handy in your bag or even in your car.

-> Choosing fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables has an obvious nutritional advantage in terms of vitamin and antioxidant content.

-> Avoid tropical fruits from distant countries: processing and transportation have significant costs for the environment!

-> Meat production, globally, is one of the main causes of carbon dioxide production and air pollution, so it is desirable for each of us to reduce the purchase and weekly consumption of it. Sustainable alternatives are cereals, legumes, and nuts, even better if they come from certified organic farming.

Our choices as consumers can promote the long-term well-being of the environment and animals, with a decrease in intensive farming over time.

Organic free-range eggs should always be preferred to those produced by other types of farming (on the ground, in cages).

Likewise, organic milk, as well as dairy products and cheeses from certified and sustainable farms, are the best choice we can make for both the environment and our well-being.

Another level of awareness, to benefit ourselves and the planet, is to identify companies in the area that are attentive to environmental sustainability policies, in order to promote local products and enhance eco-friendly and organic productions.

With minimal effort and seemingly ordinary gestures, we can be part of economic and social development models based on respect for humanity and nature.

Dr. Concetta Mauriello

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