We’ve all been to the grocery store and picked up loads of fresh veggies and fruit (which is amazing), but every time we do that we use those terrible plastic baggies that just get tossed in the garbage when we get home. This is what we call one-use plastic, and it is definitely something I try to avoid! A few months ago, I purchased these produce bags from Amazon. Yes, I know it is always better to shop from local, independent stores – but I couldn’t find them anywhere, and I really wanted to use them at the grocery store. They’re $10, you get 11 reusable bags (that can be easily thrown in the wash) and they can be used for more than just produce! Yes, I use them for veggies and fruit at the grocery store, but I also use them for things in the bulk section, and I use them to make my own oat and nut milk at home (recipe coming soon!). If you do two things from this list, please do this and number 2
Of course, you probably have a few reusable grocery bags lying in the kitchen or in your trunk. Maybe your parents gave them to you, or you bought one because it had a cute pattern – but either way, use them! I keep a bag of reusable bags (plus my produce bags) in my trunk at all times. When we get home from the grocery store, we unload our food and put the bags by the front door so one of us remembers to throw them back in the trunk. It’s that easy! Of course, if you need to buy some, it’s better to buy canvas bags – they last longer, you can wash them, and they’re not made with plastic. But, if you have a bunch of reusable bags made of plastic (like me) don’t go out and buy a whole new set; that is just wasteful! Use your bags for as long as you can, and if they need to be replaced, then buy canvas ones.
Side tip: bring them into the mall with you, too! Most of us are pretty good at bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but how many times have you gone to the mall and left with more plastic baggies? I love bringing in my avocado bag because it always grabs people’s attention, and hopefully they remember to do the same the next time they go shopping.
I know this can be hard, but I have a few examples. Buy mushrooms that are loose, throw them into the brown paper bags that most grocery stores supply (or your handy, dandy new produce bags) and you’re already starting to reduce your waste by not buying the mushrooms wrapped in plastic wrap in a plastic container. Plus, they last longer in the paper bag! You can also buy fresh spinach, kale, potatoes, onion, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, lemons (and tons of other fresh fruits/veggies) that don’t come in plastic – just look around! I know the plastic tub of spinach is convenient, but as soon as you start making these small changes – you won’t miss it!
Of course, this one might not always be feasible due to where you live, what veggies are in season, etc; but it’s all about doing your best. So, I like to buy fresh broccoli and squash, and when I come home I wash it and throw it into a container and then into the freezer. That way, I don’t have to buy the frozen veggies (that come in the bags) and I’m usually saving money!
This one is easy. Beans and legumes are easily available in aluminum tins and have a better recycling loop (Learn more here: http://www.aluminum.org/sustainability/aluminum-recycling).
This is one of my favourite things to do. I buy Follow Your Heart (Earth Island in Canada) vegenaise products (regular mayo, Sriracha mayo, garlic mayo) and when I’m finished, I soak the jars in hot water and soap and take off the labels! Then, I reuse the jars for overnight oats (like this recipe here), and I transfer my bulk products from my reusable produce bags! I also like to buy spaghetti sauce in jars and do the same thing with the paper label. There’s no plastic seal around the top, and these bottles actually fit a normal mason jar lid so I use them for smoothies, juices and more bulk products!
If you live in a city with a bulk bin store, that’s great! Bring your own jars and bags and fill up on things that you use often (rice, quinoa, seasonings, spices, nuts). I don’t have a local bulk bin store, but thankfully my grocery store has a bulk section! It’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk, and you can use your own reusable bags (or even the paper bags from the mushroom section) to use!
Thank you so much for reading this list & for wanting to reduce your waste at the grocery store! If you have any other tips, leave them in the comment section below!