This post was originally published on April 16, 2015 and updated on April 17, 2020.

Earth Day is April 22. It’s about appreciating our planet and keeping it healthy for future generations. Eco-friendly shopping can make a significant impact on our environment. Most of us visit a grocery store at least once a week. Our Earth Day shopping challenge to you is to follow these three simple steps each time you shop. You’ll end up with a shopping cart (or your own reusable shopping bag) that is better for the planet, and also healthier for you.

  1. Choose products with less packaging. Stroll past the cans of soda, juice bottles and individually packaged snacks. Drink more tap water. Buy Nutella to spread on apples or whole-grain crackers instead of stocking the cabinets with bags of fruit snacks or chips. You will produce less waste, and consume more essential vitamins and minerals.
  2. Select natural foods when available. Avoid foods containing trans fats, foods produced with genetically modified organisms (GMO) and produce grown using pesticides. Today, many food manufacturers are reducing or replacing trans fats in their products with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This healthy oil is naturally trans fat free and is non-GMO. Malaysia’s oil palm plantations also use integrated pest management to reduce the use of pesticides.
  3. Buy only what you need. More than 30 percent of the United States’ food goes to waste. Eat your leftovers or freeze what you can’t consume right away. If you find you overbought, share with your neighbors or donate the items to a local food shelf. It’s all about efficiency. Malaysian sustainable palm oil is the most land-efficient oil crop in the world. Other oil crops, such as soy, canola or sunflower, use much more land to produce the same amount of oil. And in Malaysia, much of the oil is produced by smallholders who hand-pick the fruit bunches that grow on the lush, green trees.
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are thinking sustainability, too. Their findings indicate that sustainable diets which are higher in plant-based foods are associated with less environmental impact than the current American diet. In their jointly published 2015 Dietary Guidelines summary, they state that a sustainable diet ensures access to safe and nutritious food for the current population and for future generations.

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