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Sustainability: Tips for Shopping Smarter

October 18, 2017

By Erin Gunter, MS and Rachel Kuliani, MPH, CHES

In September, Duke Integrative Medicine hosted a Lunch & Learn session for its employees and invited Corporate Chef Cate Smith to speak about sustainability as it relates to food consumption. At the beginning of her talk, she outlined numerous facts about food waste:

  • 1/3 of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally (this is 1.3 billion tons of edible food) (1)
  • Food waste generates 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases each year (1)
  • American families waste about 25% of purchased food and beverages – wasting about $1,365-$2,275 per year (2)

With these facts, we then discussed tips and tricks for shopping smarter to reduce food waste and save money. The next time you are in the grocery store or farmers market, think about the following five tips.

1. Buy Exactly What You Need

Be mindful of whether you are buying for one person or a family of four. For example, if a recipe calls for two carrots, buy loose produce instead of a whole bag in order to get exactly what you need.

2. Take Inventory Before Shopping

Review what you already have in your fridge and pantry prior to your shopping trip. This will help you to meal plan utilizing all perishables you already have before buying more at the store – not only helping you reduce waste but also save money

3. Be Realistic About Bulk Purchases

Don’t let a gimmick or store promotion convince you to buy in bulk. For example, buying three heads of lettuce when you only eat one per week may end up costing you money as opposed to saving you money.

4. Don’t Shop Hungry

Often, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. When you’re hungry, everything looks delicious. Don’t go to the store hungry, since this can cause you to buy more than you need or impulsively buy things you do not need.

5. Save the Uglies

Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their size, shape, or colors don’t quite match what we think these items should look like. For the most part, these items are perfectly good to eat. Buying the uglies helps use food that would otherwise end up wasted.

Consider Registering For a Changing From Within Course

This 8-week course will help you learn to bring close attention to your mind, body, behaviors and patterns related to eating. You will explore the many variables that drive our habits—including stress, unhappiness, and even unconscious beliefs—and develop a road map for sustainable change.

The group support and personal mindfulness skills you will develop in this program can provide a pathway to achieve a healthy weight that can be maintained for a lifetime. Loaded with concrete meditation exercises, behavioral techniques, nutrition advice, and meal-planning charts, this course provides the tools to avoid cravings, stop emotional overeating, and figure out when you are full.

Lasting weight loss and healthy living begin in the mind. Are your ready to learn how to re-program your body, make healthy choices, lose weight, and keep it off for life? Click here to learn more about Click here to learn more about Changing From Within.


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2013) Food wastage footprint: Impacts on natural resources. Accessed 10/11/2017.
  2. Natural Resources Defense Council. (2012) Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. Accessed 10/11/2017.


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