There are many different ways that people follow to eliminate waste from their lives, but what about wasted food? We’ve all been guilty of food wastage sometime or somewhere, in our homes, at restaurants, or at the store. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The reason for food wastage stems from the quantities of food that we purchase while out grocery shopping. And so below, we’ve listed some great ideas for zero-waste shopping that you should follow, on your next trip (and every trip) to the grocery store.
Simple steps for zero-waste shopping
When you go grocery shopping, do you ever wonder how you can make your zero-waste shopping experience even more eco-friendly? Here are some zero-waste shopping tips to help you reduce waste at the grocery store.
1. Make a grocery shopping list
The first and most important of all the zero-waste shopping tips – make a grocery list and stick to it. To do this, check your kitchen and pantry to know what you already have, and what you will not need to buy more of. Prepare a meal plan for your household for the coming days (and weeks), so you know exactly what you require to buy. This will ensure no food waste at home. And say ‘No’ to impulse buying.
The best part: by advance planning your grocery shopping, you will end up saving money and the planet as well!
2. Carry a cloth bag along for dry items
Another critical step is to avoid buying or using plastic bags or bottles, which inevitably end up in landfills. A large cloth or tote bag is a great way to reduce plastic use. It also makes your shopping trip more pleasant because you’re not guilty of carrying a plastic bag in your hand. In addition, reusable grocery bags are convenient for carrying dry items like bread, eggs, cereal, etc.
This will help keep your cart more organized and prevent any crumbs or spills from getting to other food items. The more you utilize your own reusable cloth bags from home and the less plastic, the better.
3. Reuse the produce bags
Opt for reusable produce bags for your own bagging needs to keep your grocery shopping kit as small as possible. These bags can be reused the next time you go grocery shopping. You can also use them to carry frozen foods back home from the store.
So, instead of using brand new paper or plastic bags for groceries every single time, use washable & reusable cotton produce bags. Before you recycle these bags, ensure they are washed clean and dried.
4. Reuse your containers
Shop using reusable containers (made from recycled materials) whenever possible. For example, use glass containers for fruits and vegetables. Choose containers made from metal, paper, or glass whenever you can. Say ‘No’ to plastic packaging whenever possible because it will contaminate the rest of your reusable container collection.
In addition to using such containers and bags as zero-waste products, you can make any type of reusable container to store the groceries in your kitchen. When you bring the items home from the grocery store, just place them directly into their own reusable containers.
5. Purchase in bulk, when possible
You can reduce the amount of packaging at the store by buying food in bulk or in bulk containers. Check out food storage containers at larger supermarkets in your area for produce and bulk grains. Or, ask your local farmer’s market about buying bulk items like nuts, flour, pasta, and granola.
When buying items from chain super-stores, try to find and use the biggest container possible.
6. Opt for naked produce, without packaging
Avoid plastic or excess packaging, as much as possible. If you know what’s good for you and your family, buy unpacked groceries from the store because they will be fresher and better tasting than if wrapped up in plastic bags. This helps cut down on trash too!
Remember: if it’s not in a plastic bag, then it doesn’t need to be wrapped up later! Simply wash groceries under warm water and pat dry with a towel, before storing them in airtight containers and out of direct sunlight, until they need to be used. And ensure they are stored properly, to remain fresh and edible much longer.
7. Buy more plant-based foods
Another way to minimize wastage is to buy more plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables rather than animal products like meat or fish. Plant-based foods are typically much less wasteful than animal products because they take less space to transport (which means less fuel used), and they require less land and other resources too.
Plant-based foods are often less processed than animal products, so they have less packaging and take up less space in your fridge. So, to drastically reduce waste, try implementing a vegan diet by consuming plant-based foods filled with essential nutrients.
8. Search for seasonal produce
Next, look for fruits and vegetables that are in season. This means that they are at their very best, and have been grown in a way that makes them tasty and nutritious, with a short shelf-life. Some foods that are usually good to buy in bulk are produce, grains and beans, and dairy products like milk and cheese.
Some sustainable zero-waste stores even make a big deal of buying local and seasonal produce. So if you’re looking for organic produce, or something in season, it’s worth paying a little extra to support your local farmers.
9. Always select fresh food
Buying food that’s fresh is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it’s ready to eat (or used in other recipes). Also, be sure to choose organic produce whenever possible — this will help reduce waste from pesticides and chemicals that are often sprayed on conventional crops.
Whenever possible, choose fresh foods over frozen or canned options because they require less energy to transport and won’t contain preservatives (that aren’t good for us anyway!) Also, when you buy any fruits or vegetables, always check expiry dates and make sure all ingredients look fresh before purchasing them.
10. Understand your food sources
You don’t need to buy all-natural products from health food stores or specialty shops. Instead, you can easily find them at grocery stores and supermarkets. While these items may cost more than processed foods, they often contain fewer preservatives, additives, and other chemicals that could be harmful to your health. Plus, you’ll save money by buying in bulk instead of buying individual items every time you’re out shopping! The takeaway: know your food sources and be a conscious consumer!
11. Keep additional bags with you as backup
Always keep additional reusable bags in your car or on you while shopping. Yes, we’re talking about the bags that are usually stored in your kitchen/ pantry for a rainy day. This way, you won’t have to waste time going back for groceries later on in the week, month, or season. If you drive or cycle, remember to carry extra takeaway bags at all times, so they can be your trusted backups when in need!
12. Strike up conversations with the staff
When you’re out grocery shopping, make sure to ask questions about what’s in your food. Don’t refrain from asking if something doesn’t look right (or if certain ingredients listed on packages sound incorrect). Ask anyone from the staff if they can help clear your doubts, before you make any purchase.
If you have a problem with packaging at the grocery store (such as single-use plastic bags), directly ask someone at the service counters about using alternatives such as reusable bags, paper bags, or other zero-waste products.
13. Shop local or online
When possible, shop at farmers’ markets or online, where vendors sell directly from the farm to your home. Buying from such a local zero-waste store reduces waste and supports local economies, which benefits everyone involved!
In addition to lowering food miles, buying locally or online will also help you reduce waste as well as benefit our environment by keeping money circulating in our communities and supporting local businesses.
14. Aim to shop at a zero-waste store
Try shopping at supermarkets and zero-waste stores that offer options to bring along your own reusable shopping bags. You’ll also want to check out bigger retailers’ websites for plastic-free shopping options.
Your local grocery store might have several options for zero-waste shopping, including bulk bins for produce and bulk items like flour or sugar. And they might also offer recycling bins for plastics or paper products. If not, check out their website or ask questions about their zero-waste products when you arrive at the store.
And of course, don’t forget about farmers’ markets! These markets often offer fresh produce at low prices and with minimal packaging – they truly follow zero-waste practices while you shop.
All of us want the same thing: to live a life that is as green and sustainable as possible. But when it comes to zero-waste shopping, only a few of us make the actual effort to change our shopping habits. With these simple, doable zero-waste shopping tips listed above, let’s all go the extra mile for the planet.
And if you’re inspired to begin a zero-waste journey, here’s How You Can Go Zero Waste On A Budget!