Ditching single use plastics while grocery shopping is a zero waste achievement. We initially enter grocery stores with the intention of reducing or even eliminating our plastic waste usage, but sometimes we may end up coming up short and bringing home more plastic waste than we planned.
The good news is that we have the ability to choose what we buy. This enables us to choose items that are not wrapped in plastic and made sustainably. This allows us to make decisions that will eventually influence others to live a low or zero-waste lifestyle.
Here are a few tips we’ve gathered to help you minimize and even reduce your waste at grocery stores.
#1 Plan Ahead to Cut Back
Meal planning is not for everyone, but it’s a great way to ensure that you do not spend frivolously and buy things that you do not need. Food prepping is a great habit to built because it will help you stick to your diet goals, curb any waste and allow you to put a lot of intention into your grocery shopping habits.
At the very least, you should loosely plan your grocery list before heading to the store. We like to use our Google Docs or the built in notes app on our smartphones to create a grocery list.
#2 Buy in Bulk
A part of meal planning that is great is that you can buy in bulk the items that you need for your pantry. Buying in bulk can save lots of money and trips to the grocery store. Here’s a guide on what items are best to buy in bulk.
After you’ve meal planned or created a grocery list, you can determine which items you’ll be able to buy in bulk. We like to buy products such as flour, grains, oats, and nuts, which can be found in bulk section in select stores. Buying in bulk is an easy way to use less plastic and create less waste.
When buying in bulk, we use these muslin canvas bags that are great for large to small grains. For spices, we use reusable glass containers. For baked goods, we like using a reusable and sealing bread bag to keep our bread fresh and last longer.
Make sure to keep your reusable bags and containers accessible so that you can easily grab them on your way to the grocery store.
#3 Buy from Eco-Conscious Brands
No matter how hard you try, there may be packaged items in stores that you may need to buy.
We try to choose wisely by buying from brands that make recyclable or compostable packaging.
Also, keep in mind that plastic packaging can sometimes be collected and recycled by grocery store programs or a company called Ridwell. They recycle small plastics and even clothing at your doorstep!
We also love getting our groceries at the farmer’s market when possible. It allows us to use our own bags and bypass all the carbon footprint that we tend to leave when shopping at large grocery store chains.
#4 Create Easy Zero Waste Habits
Keep your reusable bags and containers in an accessible area of your home. Make it so that you don’t have to spend time searching for zero waste solutions on your way out the door.
Some people even create grocery store kits that they keep in their vehicles for easy access.
Another good way to create zero waste habits is to think before buying. Determine if you actually need something or if you can make or find at home. Sometimes we already even have what we need in the home.
Some items that we love making at home are dressings, sauces, breads, hummus and even yogurt. We reuse glass jars so that we do not have to buy into plastic.
The possibilities to become zero or little waste are endless!
When trying to shop and be zero waste, it’s a good idea to start with small actions over time. These habits build up and some people find solutions to go entirely zero waste after years of practicing intentional grocery shopping.
While it’s difficult to go entirely zero waste for most people, it’s still very possible. In the meantime, do your best to go low-waste and eventually build and learn habits that will get you a zero-waste lifestyle.