Grocery Shopping Zero Waste
Plastic packaging is one of the largest contributors to the overall plastic waste problem. The solution is simple; refuse. Most of us mean well but only focus on the R’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Don’t get me wrong, these practices are great and need to be implemented on an everyday basis. But there is even a better practice, the practice of refusal. When grocery shopping opt for un-packaged food instead of packaged. By saying no to wasteful trends like single-use prepackaged items we avoid adding more waste to landfill. In this way, sustainable living and minimalism go hand in hand. Avoiding plastics seems daunting in today’s world, but it really isn’t; just by altering the way you shop is enough to make a huge difference.
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Bring your own bag of course! Stop the never-ending sea of plastic bags- sadly quite literal- by bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store. This goes beyond refusing plastic bags at checkout. Plastic bags are used throughout the store; at the bakery, deli, and especially the produce section. Investing in reusable produce bags and other food bags is a small price to pay for the amount of plastic you will prevent from going to landfill. Eartheasy has a set of 5 produce bags and EcoBags has reusable bags for bread, grains, and produce.
Buy from bulk bins
Most stores have a bulk bin section for grains, pasta, spices, dried fruits, and nuts. Buying these in bulk not only saves money spent on packaging but also means there is no packaging that would have ended up in landfill. Did you know about 15% of product cost goes into the packaging. Stop paying for trash and simply bring your own container. Glass canning jars are not only reusable and recyclable but also looks rustic chic. Bulk bin sections will have a weigh station where you can weigh the container you brought then fill it up with whatever item and weigh again. The weight of your container is subtracted so you’re only paying for food- not packaging. Those with allergies should use caution when shopping in bulk bin due to possible cross contamination.
Buy un-packaged produce
If you go into the produce section of your local grocery store you’ll notice that produce is sold packaged and loose (un-packaged). From bags of carrots to broccoli on Styrofoam trays wrapped in saran wrap; it’s all plastic waste. However, produce sold loose eliminates this plastic waste– only if you bring your own reusable produce bag. Buying loose, un-packaged produce gives you more power over the amount of food you buy so you only buy what you will eat. It also allows you to pick and choose the freshest and best looking produce. Oftentimes, loosely sold produce is locally grown as well meaning produce is fresher and healthier.
Chose glass not plastic
Not all grocery items can be bought un-packaged. Condiments, sauces, dressings, and pickled foods all come packaged. However, you as the consumer have a choice; most items are packaged in plastic or glass. Opt for glass when you can; glass jars are recyclable whereas plastic is not. They can be cleaned and reused for food storage, either for leftovers or for your visit to the bulk bin section at your grocery store. Glass jars work great for food storage as they are able to be heated, dishwasher-friendly, stain resistant, and don’t hold food odors unlike other plastic storage containers.
Chose behind the counter foods
Most grocery stores have a meat counter, deli, and bakery, which sell the food items un-packaged. If you bring your own reusable container or bag, you can buy all your meats, cheeses, breads, and pastries without the traditional plastic packaging. Even without a reusable container, buying meat from behind the counter contributes to less plastic waste as the meat is wrapped in plastic-lined paper instead of a Styrofoam tray and saran wrap. Again, you only pay for the food, not the packaging and you are able to pick and choose what food items you want to buy.
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