Teach About U.S. Blog

Day 11: A green shopping basket

Day 11: A green shopping basket

by Clara del Rey -
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Clara del Rey // 7 July 2015 // #GoingGreen #WasteNot

Every week, I receive a fresh produce box from our local farmer. | (c) Clara del Rey

Every week, I receive a fresh produce box from our local farmer. | (c) Clara del Rey

If you care about the environment, you’ll soon realize that it takes more than just reducing the amount of plastics in your life to achieve this. What truly matters, in my opinion, is living a life with minimal impact on the planet’s wellbeing.

When I talk to people about this, they frequently tell me that politics need to set the conditions for sustainable development. While this may be true, it is only one part of the solution. Instead of looking to our parliaments for answers, we need to realize that we ourselves can have an impact on sustainable development—every time we make decisions as consumers. If you think about it, the shopping basket can be just as powerful a tool as the ballot, and we should make good and careful use of it.

My view is that buying locally grown and organic products isn’t just the latest eco-trend, but the logical outcome of a responsible and respectful behavior towards our natural resources. I firmly believe that these products are as convenient for us as they are for the planet, for a good number of reasons. Today I’ll give you a handful of them, but I really encourage you to do a bit of research on your own, have a thought about it, and make your own rational choices.

  • Organic and healthy veggies and fruits are grown without the use persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Originally designed to kill living organisms such as plagues, pesticides cause contamination in the soil, water and earth, and, as many experts argue, are potentially harmful to our health. Synthetic fertilizers are made from large quantities of fossil fuels, and therefore degrade the soil and lower your produce’s nutrient density.
  • When breeding animals to produce meat, eggs, milk or cheese, for example, organic farmers avoid synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics. These are believed to stress the animals and make them develop dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections. For us, they are considered endocrine-disruptive chemicals and can bring a good load of associated health problems.
  • Organic farmers don’t use GMOs, because of their fatal impacts on ecosystems.
  • When buying local, you bring prosperity to your community and support endemic ecosystems.


Community-supported agriculture, explained by The Lexicon of Sustainability | (c) The Lexicon of Sustainability

I am quite lucky to have a CSA, a community-supported agriculture system in the city where I live. A “CSA” you might ask? Well, this is a great thing. The Lexicon of Sustainability explains the approach:

Buying a CSA membership means entering into partnership with a local farmer. The member buys a subscription at the beginning of the season. This cash infusion allows the farmer to pay for seed, water, equipment and labor in the early season when farm expenses are high and farm income is low. In return the farm provides its members with a box of fresh picked seasonal produce each week. CSAs build community by reconnecting its members to the seasons and fostering relationships between members and the people who grow their food.

So this is how it works in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I live: Every Tuesday, the local farm that I support sends a big box of vegetables and eggs to our home. You never know what the contents of the box will be, but they are always local and organic. For me, this is a perfect incentive for my imagination and it helps me to explore new flavors and cooking methods. More and more cities are adopting this service today, but if there aren’t any nearby, you can take your reusable bags and head to the local farmer’s market. And don’t worry, change doesn’t need to happen overnight: Set yourself simple goals, for example, start with one group of products, say, lettuce, and then expand your local shopping list from there. I guarantee you, once you try this produce you’ll never want to switch back!


Clara del Rey, the winner of the travel well MAGAZINE's #WasteNot 30-day challenge , was invited to share her favorite ideas on reducing trash. Clara, a Spanish native, taught in St. Joseph, Missouri (USA), and is now living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only does she know both the U.S. and the European perspective on sustainability, but her ideas are creative, unconventional, and yet easy to follow.She is conviced: "I truly think being environmentally conscious starts with reducing your consumption of resources and products. Sometimes I stop, reflect upon people's frantic consumption habits and just think to myself: we are all addicts, in a way, having to buy compulsively insane amounts of disposable, poor quality 'goods'. It makes me wonder how we are losing the ability to create things with our hands or imagination—simple things such as cooking, growing greens and vegetables, or sewing a button. I refuse to represent this mindset."