I think grocery shopping is the easiest area to start your Zero Waste journey with. Even in the past, when I was not that much involved in ZW lifestyle, I was terrified looking at all the plastic in my own and other people’s groceries at supermarkets. 2 carrots in a plastic bag, 3 apples in a separate plastic bag, cucumbers pre-wrapped in plastic by the producer, etc. Not to mention all that water in plastic bottles, cookies in plastic packages, granolas, pastas and so on. If you take a closer look at what is on the shelves in supermarkets you will see that products available in more eco-friendly packaging (like paper or glass) is a minority.
So we are drowning in plastic (literally – you’ve probably heard of a huge island of plastic on the Pacific Ocean, if not you will find some more info here). But does it have to be that way? Of course not! Avoiding plastic, especially when making the groceries, can be easier that you think. Below you will find the first part of useful Zero Waste shopping tips.
- Always have a cloth bag with you
And I mean ALWAYS – it will prevent you from taking a plastic bag in the supermarket in case you had to make some unplanned groceries. Besides that cloth bags are durable and when folded they do not take much space (I can put my cloth bag even in the jeans pocket).
- Smaller cloth bags for bread
Not only you don’t have to put your bread or croissant in a plastic bag, but also those bread cloths bags are so cute. And I hear that very often at the baker’s shop (“ohw, what a pretty bag” or recently “You are fantastic! I wish everyone brought their own bags”). You want to be fantastic as well? Bring your own bag 😉 So easy!
- Fruits and veggies – buy in bulk
Always choose only those unwrapped ones and not the ones that are packaged in those small plastic boxes. Larger fruits and veggies (potatoes, bananas, apples, carrots etc.) I just put loose in my cloth bag(s) (see point 1.). Smaller ones, like cherry tomatoes, I put in a small paper bag, that actually weights nothing and you can reuse it a few times.
- Meat and cheese – bring your own container
I’m on a plant based diet and I do not buy any meat or dairy products. But if you buy those, choose the ones that are not laying pre-packed in supermarket’s refrigerators, but rather those ones that you can buy in bulk on designated stalls. Then you can just hand your own package (tupperware, glass jar etc.) to the salesperson. They rather do not refuse, but you need to be determined and assertive, yet polite. You are the client, remember that. I buy olives and dried tomatoes that way.
- Bottled water
I basically stopped buying it. The amount of garbage that we’ve produced sank drastically when we’ve started drinking filtered water (I’ve calculated, that before that, we’ve threw away around 520 of 1,5 liter plastic bottles per year!). Right now when going out I always carry m own bottle of water, just in case I get thirsty (same thing when I go to fitness classes or gym – always take my own water – it’s also saving some money ;)).
That would be it for part 1. I hope that soon you will manage to incorporate some of those tips in your everyday life. You probably already have some cloth bags at home or if not then you can easily make such using old t-shirts or bed sheets. Remember always to use what you already have! Good luck and stay tuned, cause part 2 is coming soon 😉