Greening your grocery habits

HELPING the environment is important for Ballina retiree Ivan Simpson, but buying environmentally-friendly grocery items comes second to finding bargains.

As a pensioner, Mr Smith said he had to keep an eye on the cost of groceries.

However, he said helping people become more environmentally conscious by telling them the carbon footprint of their products was 'a good thing, because you need to do something about it'.

In a world-first, Southern Cross University researchers are examining whether telling shoppers of the carbon footprint of their grocery items will entice them to buy more environmentally-friendly products.

Yesterday, third-year environmental science students Scott Aulsebrook, Kelly Mitchell, Michael Maher and Mark Stewart were busy sticking coloured feet on bottled water, dog food, milk, butter and canned tomatoes at Foodworks in East Ballina.

“Our aims are to inform people and see if the preferences of shoppers change,” Mr Maher said.

The project is part of their natural resource policy course, overseen by Professor Jerry Vanclay.

“Nobody has done research like this before,” Prof Vanclay said.

“Today about half the students were here, as the class is sharing the work around.”

The SCU study will analyse sales data from the month before the new labels' introduction until a month after it.

Customers can also fill in a survey about whether the labelling was helpful and influenced their shopping decisions.

“I might change some things I buy, but you've only got so much to spend,” Mr Simpson said.

Instead of always buying environmentally-friendly groceries, he rides a bicycle around.

“You just have to change your lifestyle. A lot of people say they don't have time, but it needs to be done.”

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