The 5 Eco-Friendliest Mini-Mart Buys
With more than 50,000 locations around the globe, 7-Eleven is the world's biggest convenience retailer. (To put that into perspective, McDonald's has fewer than 35,000 stores.) Gas station shops have become nearly as ubiquitous. So what does an eco-conscious snacker pick when wandering these chains' fluorescent-lit aisles? We rummaged through all the packaging and processing to bring you five of the greenest convenience store buys.
APPLES are one of the few items at your local mini-mart not wrapped in plastic. Plus, most stores sell U.S.-grown ones, many from Washington state. (Californians and Floridians might want to opt for local oranges.) You rarely see organic fruit, but corner stores cater to neighborhood needs, so even large chains show regional variation: If an item sells, they'll stock it. Talk to your nearest store's manager to request organic produce, then use your purchasing power for good. About $1 per fruit.
The high-energy CLIF BAR is available at most convenience stores. Power up with its organic ingredients while avoiding nutritional nasties like trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and high-fructose corn syrup. By 2015, Clif—which is already climate-neutral—plans to divert 90% of its waste from landfills and to source Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa. Meantime, try the popular Chocolate Chip flavor. $1.39 per 2.4-ounce bar
In its LEED-certified factory topped with more than 1,800 solar panels, NAKED JUICE makes preservative-free beverages that are common finds in convenience store fridges. Its bottles' square shape makes for more efficient transportation, and the plastic is reconstituted from 100% postconsumer content. Our favorite Naked smoothie is the immunity-boosting Power-C Machine, which packs orange, mango, guava, strawberry, peach, and apple into one perfectly portable drink. About $3.50 per 15.2-ounce bottle
We're not about to pretend that snack-food giant Frito-Lay is an eco-saint. But the company is working toward a near-zero-landfill-waste goal, and its SUNCHIPS are cranked out in solar-powered production plants, which means that more than a million bags of these whole-grain crisps are manufactured using renewable energy. The Original flavor is great—and so was its compostable bag, which, alas, was deemed "too noisy" and is no longer produced. About $4 per 10.5-ounce bag
Founded by a professor-student pair at Yale, HONEST TEA, true to its name, has truly transparent sustainability policies: Its teas are fair-trade certified, and its bottled drinks are organic. The brand, which Coca-Cola bought in 2011 (but which continues to operate independently), maintains strong supply-chain integrity and partnerships with green groups. The Honey Green Tea flavor is what you'll likely see for sale at convenience stores; it's refreshingly free of genetically modified ingredients, and the bottle is entirely recyclable. From $1.59 per 16.9-ounce bottle