Every year, our world produces over 2 billion tons of waste, with a large percentage including plastic waste from shopping. A typical grocery shopping trip includes a number of products that contain single-use plastics that are extremely harmful to our environment.
As people have become increasingly aware of the negative effects that plastic waste has on our environment, a new way of shopping has emerged and is taking over.
What Is Zero Waste Food Shopping?
Started in Europe, zero waste shopping began as a way to reduce the toll of plastic on our environment. In 2007, the very first zero waste shop opened in London. Called Unpackaged, this store started a revolution and now over a decade later there are more than 150 packaging-free stores around the world.
Unpackaged and other zero waste food shopping stores strive to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging that we use and preserve resources for future generations. These stores have inspired a global trend and it is now easier than ever to shop in a way that produces less waste.
Zero Waste Solutions
If there isn’t a zero waste store near you, don’t worry. There are still a number of things that you can do to become a zero waste shopper. All it takes is a little preparation.
Some easy and effective zero waste solutions include the following.
1. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
Probably one of the easiest changes to make is to switch from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags. Reusable grocery bags are now available at most grocery stores and are fairly inexpensive and lightweight. These bags are typically made from the following materials:
When purchasing a reusable bag, make sure you buy well-made bags with sturdy handles and a strong bottom that can properly hold the weight of your groceries. Also, try to avoid overfilling your bags to ensure they last as long as possible.
2. Use Reusable Produce Bags
Another way to cut back on shopping waste is to purchase reusable produce bags. Available in a variety of sizes and commonly made of cotton or mesh, these bags are the zero waste shopping alternative to plastic produce bags.
Use these bags to hold your fruits or vegetables while shopping and to store the produce in your home. The fabric of these bags makes them super easy to clean too. Just throw them in your washing machine or handwash between uses to keep your produce clean and fresh! Also, many of these bags come with a handy drawstring at the top that will prevent any produce from falling out!
3. Shop at Farmers Markets
Farmers markets make zero waste food shopping easy! Oftentimes, the food available at a farmers market isn’t prepacked, so you can you easily ask the vendor to package your purchase in a reusable container or bag you brought with you. As a bonus, the food from a farmers market didn’t have to travel as far and therefore has a smaller carbon footprint on the environment!
Additionally, many farmers markets sell products in reusable containers. Berries are typically sold in paper containers that can be reused or given back to the vendor the following week. Additionally, honey is often sold in cute jars that can be reused or repurposed.
4. Go to a Butcher
Just like the farmers market, going directly to the butcher to buy your meat is a great way to reduce the amount packaging used. At a butcher, you can request a certain amount of meat and ask them to package it in a reusable container. Not only does this reduce packaging waste, but it also reduces food waste since you will not need to buy more than you need.
5. Choose the Plastic-Free Option
You might be surprised to learn that many of the items you typically buy are available in plastic-free packaging. Pasta can be purchased in carboard boxes instead of plastic containers, while vanilla is available in glass containers instead of plastic. By choosing to purchase the non-plastic, recyclable version of things you normally buy, you can easily reduce the amount of waste you produce.
6. Buy in Bulk
The bulk aisle in the grocery store is the best place for zero waste food shopping. Many stores offer a variety of products that can be bought in bulk. This includes:
- Trail mix
- Olive oil
- Dried fruit
Bring a bottle or jar for liquid or powder items and a reusable bag for most other items. The bulk aisle is not only a great way to shop waste-free but will also save you money since buying in bulk is significantly less expensive than buying prepackaged goods.
If you do choose to bring your own reusable, non-plastic container to your local grocery store, there are a few things you must consider. First, check with your store to make sure that they allow you to bring your own containers.
If your store allows you to bring your own containers, bring your empty jars and containers to the customer service counter to be weighed at the beginning of your shopping trip. Write the corresponding weight on the jar or container so the cashier can account for this extra weight at checkout. This will ensure that you are only paying for the food you’re buying since bulk items are sold based on weight.
When shopping in bulk, keep track of the product’s PLU numbers on your phone or on an extra sheet of paper. When you go to check out, provide the cashier with the PLU number for each container to make checking out a breeze.
Zero Waste Solutions from Retail Bulk Solutions
Retail Bulk Solutions is a worldwide provider of bulk retail merchandising. We provide products that make consumers’ shopping experiences more convenient, eco-friendly, and customizable. Our zero waste merchandising solutions include the following:
All of our bulk merchandising products are easy to clean, ergonomic, economical, and ecological. To learn more about our bulk bins and our other bulk merchandising products, contact Retail Bulk Solutions today.