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The Green Life: Green Grocery Tips: Publix

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February 27, 2013

Green Grocery Tips: Publix


Chances are, you've shopped at a variety of places, from small neighborhood markets to large retailers. No matter where you buy food, protecting the planet can have a place on your grocery list — even if you forget to bring reusable bags.

This week, we’ve looked at environmentally minded shopping with the little guys at farmers’ markets and at the large-ish Whole Foods Market. Today, we'll share some tips from a larger, regional grocer: Publix.

Tip #3: Restructure, from bagging to worldview. 

Operating more than 1,000 stores between six Southeastern states, employee-owned Publix is held in not just high Southern regard. The company has appeared on Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For every year since the list began in 1998.

Publix reports that sustainability efforts from its 12-year-old Get Into a Green Routine program have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4 percent since the company began measuring them in 2007. Publix director of media and community relations Maria Brous said that a lot of little things added up.

"We put green signs on our light switches," Brous said. "Simple steps: remembering to report leaky faucets, even going back to the basics of teaching clerks how to bag appropriately so you use less bags."

Appropriately bag?

"You should always square off the bag," Brous said. "You have cereal boxes, you have cans square it and fill in the middle. Lay bottles flat and put items on top of that. You lie the two-liter down, and you can start building on top of that."

Paper bagging feels a little less bad.

“Little behaviors always make a difference," Brous said. "How to stretch that dollar and also create less waste, the same kind of premise you use at home.”

Essentially, view every space like it's your own.

Lingering in front of the open freezer and leaving a milk carton in another room are less likely to happen at home. And if there are two packages of tempeh in the fridge, you're going to go for the one that expires sooner. First in, first out, right?

Change scene. Grocery: the impulse is to grab the farthest-dated item in the back, to set the rejected dairy on the nearest ledge, and to evaluate the frozen pizzas in a ruminant frost.

Next time you reach for a perishable, consider the likely conservative sell-by date and whether you need those extra few days. If you forget and snag the longest-lasting good, well, unsold sell-bys often get donated.

Tomorrow, we check out green tips for navigating the nation's largest grocer, Walmart.


HS_Mackenzie_BLOG Mackenzie Mount is an editorial intern at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.




How to shop green at the farmers market

Going greener when shopping at Whole Foods

Grocers' fridges that are eco-ice, ice, baby

- image by istockphoto/SeanPavonePhoto

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