When it comes to zero waste grocery shopping, I’m a newbie. I’ve always been mindful of the trash I create and very open to reducing my footprint on this earth (thanks for the great example mom!) but hadn’t become aware of the zero waste community until I stumbled on to Bea’s Zero Waste Home blog. I was incredibly intrigued but also thoroughly intimidated. In my mind there was NO chance that I could live a life that in any way resembled Bea’s perfect minimalist lifestyle (if you’ve ever stepped into my ‘I own every gadget known to man- kitchen you know what I’m talking about). So, I devoured her content but didn’t make any big changes- because the small ones I could make felt like just a drop in the bucket.
However, hit fast forward to a couple years later, and I meet Andrea, founder of the non-profit Be Zero, and the gorgeous face behind @BeZeroWasteGirl on Instagram. Now, Andrea lives that quintessential zero waste existence- her cupboards are stocked with perfectly styled mason jars full of colorful food, she’s crafted a capsule wardrobe to die for, and the girl writes with an ink pen, seriously an INK pen with actual ink and a metal tip that she’s owned for years- and I want to be her. However, on top of being an awesome advocate for the environment, she’s also an incredible human being. (She 100% doesn’t know that I’m writing this- just FYI this is actually me fangirling.) She has the personality that makes everyone feel at ease, and to top it off she is the least judgmental person I know, even when it comes to zero waste. She made me feel so at ease starting my zero waste journey, not judging, just applauding successes.
Fast forward to now- I’d still consider myself a newbie, but I can definitely navigate a grocery store with totes full of jars and a basket full of produce with no plastic required to make full zero waste meals. So, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips that have helped me along the way and maybe they can help you cross that ‘maybe I could’ barrier into ‘oh, that’s not hard at all!’
Zero Waste Grocery Shopping Tips
Prefer this in video form? Watch my tips and grocery haul below!
1 Call Ahead!
I have come to find out that every store is different- even branches of the same store! So call ahead to make sure that your store accepts outside containers and if you need to bring your containers into the store to find the tare (empty weight of the container to be subtracted at checkout) or if you can weigh your containers at home.
2 Prepare to Shop & Make a List
To make things easier at the store, prepare your trip beforehand. Tare (the weight of your empty containers to be subtracted at checkout- I use a kitchen scale) out all of your containers and gather all of yours bags together- there is no bigger bummer than showing up to the store realizing you forgot something! Also make a list of what you’ll need and what you’re getting. Only need a few jars? Leave some of your collection at home! zero waste shopping can be a bit heavier and bulkier than ‘regular’ shopping so preparing before hand is a great way to simplify.
3 Use Technology!
Little things that add up in a zero waste haul are the tags and trash that you generally use to label items in the store. Often you can’t avoid produce stickers (unless you’re at a farmer’s market!) but you can avoid the paper tags or stickers that you can use to record the PLU numbers on items. Use your phone instead! I make a list in my notes app of what I have and what the number is and just read it off to the cashier.
4 Don’t Worry About It!
Speaking of cashiers, don’t fret when it comes to checking out. You may get some funny looks checking out with a cart full of jars and mesh and nylon bags, but after a while you get used to it! You’re doing your part to preserve our planet- go you! Also, don’t worry if you mess up. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot a bag or an extra jar- it happens. Recycle or reuse the plastic you bring home and try again next time! No biggie.
I am loving how my home is changing as I dive deeper into zero waste- the number of houseplants I own is skyrocketing and the number of plastic bags I bring home is dwindling. Sounds like a great combination to me!
I’d love to know what you think of the zero waste lifestyle and zero waste grocery shopping! Are you curious, starting off, or a full fledged zero waste fanatic? Let me know in the comments below!
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Little Plastic Footprint says
We’ve really started taking this seriously recently and found that calling ahead is SUCH an important step, particularly when trying to buy meat in your own container as many stores won’t allow it for ‘health and safety’ reasons. That way you can choose your store accordingly. I’ve even found some that depend on which person is on duty that day. Thanks for the share.