On this blog, we talk A LOT about how to live more sustainably and mindfully through our fashion practices. Buying secondhand by shopping at nonprofit-operated thrift stores like Goodwill, buying less, and purchasing products that are made of quality are just some actions that we tout often.
But sustainable living does not just apply to our closets. We must take a 360 degree approach in order to truly make a difference in our lives, communities and the world around us.
Where we buy groceries and the way in which we obtain them also affects the planet. By food shopping with a purpose, we can do things like help support local farms which fuel our communities, reduce food waste, and use fewer plastics/packaging (which negatively impacts the environment). Our grocery habits can be healthier for us too! Produce that’s organic and grown without pesticides build stronger bodies, filled with nutrients and free of cancer-causing chemicals.
So here’s a round-up of four local DMV grocery stores that I LOVE to frequent. As an aside, I LOVE grocery shopping – so this was very fun for me to compose. 🙂
ALSO – Here are a few notes for all of the spots:
- Bring reusable bags for your groceries.
- For the spots that carry bulk items, consider bringing your own containers, bags and jars to reduce plastic waste and reuse what you already have!
- All of these locations have vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten free, and allergy friendly options.
- All of these spots are practicing safe social distancing protocols to keep the community safe. Wear a mask!
- Be careful to only buy what you need. Buying what you’ll actually use addresses food waste in our own personal kitchens.
Mason & Greens (Alexandria, VA): This is Northern Virginia’s only zero waste grocery store that sells pantry staples, package-free household products, beauty necessities and more! Plus, they have yummy baked goods by Teff and Co. From their website:
The average American generates about 4.4 pounds of waste per day. Over 250 million tons of trash are thrown away annually. Every hour 2.5 million plastic bottles are discarded.
It didn’t always used to be this way. Plastics have been used by consumers since the 1950’s. Electronics didn’t use to be disposable. To clean up, people used towels, not paper towels.
A shift in the products we use today has to occur to ensure the sustainability of the planet, the economy, and society. Here, at Mason & Green’s, we are that shift for the DC metro area.
By looking to the past, at how goods were sold and packaged, a better more sustainable model for the future can be established. Mason & Green’s is the place to find new products packaged in an old way. We are here to help you facilitate an eco friendly life and to help move past the throw away culture that has polluted our lives and our planet.
Shopping at Mason & Green’s is about a lifestyle. Not a trend. It’s about voting with your dollars and showing big businesses and corporations what you really look for in a product. Sustainability. Eco friendly. No plastic, and little to no waste generated when a product has met the end of it’s usable life.
MOM’s (Locations across the DMV, PA and NJ): This is an awesome grocery chain (founded in Rockville, MD!) that sells mostly organic food and products. Some locations have niche recycling (think electronics) and composting stations too! If you need some bulk items, they have you covered. Their plant-based assortment of goodies is impressive too. From their website:
After 3 decades, MOM’s has stores in four states and DC, employs 1,000+ people, and has created a culture centered on our Purpose: To protect and restore the environment.
Yes! Organic (Locations in DC and Maryland): This is a local grocery chain with locations in Maryland and DC. I personally like the Brookland and Cleveland Park locations. You can buy pantry staples and dried herbs in bulk here such as spinach and sugar. They also carry tons of organic and local brands! From their website:
TO HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT AND YOUR FELLOW MAN. Yes! Organic Market is a family-owned local grocery chain offering fresh, natural and organic foods. We are committed to bringing healthy food options to underserved areas and have stores in six unique neighborhoods of DC and one in Hyattsville, MD.
GLUT Food Co-op (Mt. Rainier, MD): Based in Mount Rainer, they have an extensive bulk goods area – unlike any other in the area. From EVOO to Mung Beans to Almond Flour, you can buy almost anything by the pound! From their website:
Glut is a not-for-profit charitable trust. It is a non-stock corporation, and so there is no owner. The prices at Glut are calculated to cover the cost of food plus operating expenses. Any surplus must be re-channeled into Glut.
Glut has traditionally supported peace, environmental and social justice movements. This is rooted in our 1969 founding by conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War. At the time food coops, alternative newspapers and free health clinics were an integral part of a movement that went far beyond opposition to the war. In lieu of military service, they created a buying club to bring cheap, wholesome food to the people in the city. In 1971, having outgrown the church basements that they had been using, Glut moved its operations to a larger space, a warehouse they rented on 34th Street in Mt. Rainier. As it expanded, a number of “satellite” buying clubs formed. Based in surrounding communities, these clubs would place orders through Glut then sign up for work shifts to help divide up what was bought. Eventually, Glut expanded our membership and opened our doors to the general public.
In keeping with our roots we make donations (generally in the form of store credit) to support organizations that are part of the continuing environmental, peace and social justice movements. Our focus is on groups local to the Washington, DC area.
Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food Co-op (Takoma Park, MD): Another amazing local spot for bulk items and local yummies. If you only need a little bit of a certain spice for a recipe, you can buy it here by the pound! They have an extensive health area too, if you’re looking for specialty items. From their website:
Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op promotes healthful living by offering wholesome foods, high-quality produce, and community resources in a clean, friendly, and cooperative grocery store…that you can own!
We care about our planet
Supporting local producers first reduces the carbon footprint of the food on our shelves (and all our plates!). We work with almost 200 local vendors and have over 600 locally grown or produced items in the store.
Supporting organically produced products protects our land, water, air, and wildlife (and our own bodies!) from harmful chemicals.
Supporting producers who choose less or thoughtful packaging reduces our contribution to landfill (and usually also means less energy to produce). Bulk items, bottle deposits on milk, kombucha, and water, as well as our Poker Chip Program for bringing your reusable shopping bag all encourage less waste.
Speaking of waste: grocery stores make lots of it, but we try to reduce ours. In fact, we send more volume to the recycling center than we do to the landfill! We donate thousands of pounds of unsellable grocery, produce, and dairy items each year to local nonprofits who can use it to feed folks in need. Produce waste we cannot sell or donate gets composted.
We care about our neighbors
Partnering with local businesses supports our local economy. Sometimes that’s working with a vendor and sometimes it’s coming together with folks in our Community Business Partnership Program.
Participating in community events contributes to a vibrant city. Whether it’s sponsoring a race, tabling at a festival, or donating to community event, look for us at Takoma Park and Silver Spring community events.
Identifying organizations as recipients of our Round-Up program. Shoppers can choose to ‘round up’ their grocery bill to the nearest dollar (or as much as they like!) to donate to particular efforts in our community and beyond.
We care about our people
Compensating employees fairly makes the Co-op a sustainable place to work. Generous benefits and paid time off make it a humane one.
Offering training and opportunities for advancement are an investment in our employees.
Good Food Markets (DC): Another amazing local spot for local brands and affordable sustainable products. They are all about combating food scarcity, food inaccessibility and malnutrition. From their website:
Good Food Markets is a mission driven grocery dedicated to developing retail solutions that work in, and for, food desert communities. Through unique partnerships with local growers, producers and distributors our experienced retail team is able to offer a full-service grocery selection in a fraction of the space. Located in the Woodridge neighborhood of Washington DC, GFM focuses on providing the surrounding community with fresh quality produce, essential grocery items, and healthy grab and go meals.
What are your favorite local & sustainable grocery spots in the area?