Comparison of the carbon footprints from large chain grocery stores with that of farmers’ markets:
More miles traveled translate into more fuel consumed and more carbon dioxide released
Grocery stores. Most produce is trucked and/or flown from farms to processing facilities, then to central distribution warehouses, and finally to individual stores of large grocery chains like Vons, Trader Joes, and Albertsons. Produce sold at grocery stores may have been grown in California, Arizona, Washington, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, China, and other states and countries. Consequently, the distance produce travels from a farm to a grocery store is commonly greater than 500 miles and in many cases greater than 1000 miles. More miles traveled translate into more fuel consumed and more carbon dioxide released.
Other steps that use energy and can result in carbon dioxide emissions are refrigeration during transit, at distribution warehouses and while at the grocery store.
Most farms are from Paso Robles to Santa Maria, 50 miles from the farmers’ market
farmers’ markets. Produce at our farmers’ markets comes directly from California family operated small farms. While a few of our growers’ farms are as far away as Fresno (about 130 miles), most are from Paso Robles and Santa Maria, within 50 miles of the farmers market. Clearly, the average miles produce travels to get to farmers’ markets is far less than for a grocery store. Our farmers do not need refrigeration, and reuse their transport containers. Clearly, one way to reduce the carbon footprint is to shop at farmers’ markets.
Reusing Bags Help Reduce the Carbon Footprint.
It takes energy and raw materials to manufacture any kind of bag. To help reduce the carbon footprint we recommend reusable bags, and the reuse of paper and plastic bags.
Ways to reuse plastic and paper bags
Reuse plastic bags. Long time farmers’ market shopper, Sue Sunderland has a great way. She used a dish towel to make this cloth tube. Put empty plastic bags in at one end, and when needed, pull one out at the other end. Just before leaving to the market, take out what you need, or take the tube with you. What a convenient way to store plastic bags until the next farmers’ market. The tubes are easy to make. Use a cloth of any size, and simply sew in elastic at the top and bottom. Then sew a seam to make the tube. You’re done!
Put empty plastic bags in at one end, and when needed, pull one out at the other end.
Reuse paper bags. These can be folded, and taken with you the next time you go to market. The trick is to remember to take them with you to the market. As with plastic bags, paper bags can be as trash liners, and damaged ones can be put in the recycling container.
Why are reusable bags important?
Production of new bags, paper, plastic, or cloth, requires use of resources like trees, and petroleum. Even the recycling process requires energy.
Reusing bags reduces both the use of resources and energy consumption. Especially in light of global warming and other environmental concerns, reusing bags makes good sense!
How can you get reusable bags?
Many stores now offer reusable bags at low cost. You can also purchase reusable bags at our farmers’ markets. If the bags are not set out, just ask the manager. He or she will be glad to sell you a bag at our cost.
Some growers have already stopped providing plastic bags. This is true. As a concern for the environment, some growers no longer purchase and provide bags to customers.