When my husband and I started Zero Waste this year, friends and family had a lot of questions.
“Wait, what is Zero Waste exactly?” (It’s a lifestyle that ensures you produce no trash that ends up in landfills.)
“How do you even do that?” (You make lifestyle changes and buckle down because it’s important.)
“So, can you still buy meat at the store?” (Totally! Just bring your own container to the counter.)
“Do you have to grow your own vegetables?” (You don’t have to, but it sure helps!)
Truth is, going Zero Waste has changed and disrupted a lot of the ways we used to run our lives. We’ve done away with paper towels and use only reusable rags in the kitchen, we make our own toothpaste and we spend a lot less money on disposable products that go straight to landfills.
But one of the greatest changes we’ve made has been in the way that we grocery shop. And surprisingly, it’s actually been pretty easy! Fun, even.
Here’s how we do Zero Waste grocery shopping, and how you can start too:
1) Refuse plastic shopping bags and bring your own canvas ones instead.
Before going Zero Waste, we brought home tons of plastic and paper shopping bags with each trip to the store. Today, I use four cute, colorful, sturdy reusable bags and they’ve made all the difference! To ensure I never forget to bring them with me, I keep one in each vehicle and two by the door. Easy!
2) Seek out products that aren’t shrink-wrapped or otherwise unnecessarily packaged.
I’m amazed by the amount of products that are increasingly being packaged in plastic. Shrink-wrapped cucumbers, tomatoes in plastic cubbies…the list goes on and on. Buy the regular stickered cucumber and just wash it when you get home! Or buy straight from a farmer’s market and bypass big box grocery stores all together.
3) Bring your own containers for bulk grains, meats and anything else possible.
We aren’t prepared to transition to a vegetarian lifestyle, but we have certainly decreased our meat consumption since beginning this journey. Meat production is costly to the environment so we’ve found lots of new, healthy ways to seek out alternative proteins in our diet.
When we shop for products other than produce (staples like grains, oils, meats, etc.) we bring our own glass jars and containers and shop at a local bulk bin store! This eliminates packaging altogether and gives you the opportunity to buy the exact amount in ounces or pounds that you need, rather than over-purchasing and wasting the rest.
4) Shop produce that is in season at local farmer’s markets if you have one in town.
Farmer’s markets are a wonderful thing! We are lucky to have two local to our town, each a little bit different. We can get just about any produce in season that we need, along with goat cheeses, fresh bread, flowers, herbs and eggs! Shopping at farmer’s markets has forced us to consider what products are in season and cook accordingly. We love it!
5) Meal plan weekly to prevent wasting excess food.
My husband and I plan out our meals every Sunday before shopping for the week. This has made a world of difference in the way we’ve approached meal prep and has really taken our food waste down significantly.
Well, there you have it. Your first five steps to Zero Waste grocery shopping. Give it a try!