If you are like me, you might often find yourself wandering through the aisles of Kroger selecting convenient packaged items or buying bananas imported from South America.  We are part of a culture of hyper-convenience and immediate gratification. We’ve come to expect that anything we could possibly want is always available whenever we want it.  But what is the impact of all that convenience and hyper-availability?  The truth is that so many items on the shelf today require an enormous amount of energy and resources to be produced, packaged, and shipped.

Think about it: in order to get a bag of potato chips, potatoes must be grown, dug up, and then driven in trucks to a factory.  The potatoes are then processed by energy-intensive machines and sealed into plastic bags for distribution. A truck then has to come pick up these potato chips and drive them to each of the stores that sell them. Then, to top it all off, we as consumers, typically drive to the store using more gas to get these chips to our home.  All of this leads to increasing fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions across the globe.

When you are shopping in a store like Kroger, it can be hard to think of where exactly your food comes from. But, I challenge you to start thinking about this issue that is causing so much waste, polluting our environment, and making life of Earth untenable.  I am not telling you to never shop at Kroger, but I am challenging you to be more mindful of our impact and to think about how much really goes to waste.  Make smart decisions such as choosing items that are less packaged, using reusable bags, limiting the number of trips to the store, or at least taking the bus, carpooling, biking or walking when you do go.

And even more important step is to start buying local whenever possible.  One small step at a time, you can support our local farmers by purchasing  Kentucky Proud items or shopping at a local farmer’s market (some of which operate year-round in Louisville!). Not only are local products more fresh, but they often come with less packaging and energy required to get the item to you, the consumer.  UofL hosts farmers markets on both Belknap campus and the Health Sciences Center every Thursday from mid-May to the end of October. This year, they’ll open on May 19th!

As a consumer, it is so easy to just go with the norm and buy whatever is convenient, but you can do a world of good just by starting to take little steps and look for local in Louisville.

What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to buying products?  Where are your favorite places to shop? Comment below!