Like many Americans we live in a small town with one grocery store option. As much as I love my small town, it would be a lot easier to bop around from the big bulk store to a health food store to try to get my shopping items but it is just not an option here. So what do you do?? Below are my 5 tips for zero waste shopping in a small town.
Trying to reduce waste in our family is an important goal and has been much more achievable by following the 5 tips below. As a bonus tip before we get started, take a look at what you are purchasing – do you really need the pre packaged Smuckers PB & J? Or can these be made at home in a effort to reduce waste (and probably save money too)? The same goes for pre cut fruits and veggies – these could be cut at home. Reflecting on what you are purchasing will go a long way in implementing zero waste goals.
So here we go… 5 Tips for Zero Waste Shopping in a Small Town
#1 This first tip is very common but it is important…bring your own bags! There is so much plastic wasted with the use of plastic bags. This is one of the absolute easiest ways to reduce waste. Using a reusable bag is also a great way to start your shopping trip – it makes it start out on the right foot. Now if you are very organized you will have reusable bags ready in your car for those quick runs after work. I am a fairly organized person but I can never seem to manage this one so most of the time my items get stuffed in my purse or carried out as is. Maybe I’ll learn some time!
#2 Produce bags!!! So many fruits and veggies come wrapped in plastic these days and it is not necessary. Many grocery stores provide plastic produce bags. Instead of using theirs, bring your own. I generally toss them into my cloth reusable bags and they are good to go. You can find them here or you can see my tutorial to make your own here.
#3 Aim for glass or paper! These items are more ecofriendly. For example, instead of reaching for the pasta sauce in the plastic jar, get the one in glass. Most recycling centers take glass jars; they are crushed and made into either new jars or into down graded products like fiber glass. Most recycling centers also take paper products which are then repurposed into something else. The moral of the story is try to stay away from plastic.
#4 Buy in bulk when you can. A perfect example of this is yogurt. Instead of purchasing the little individual containers of yogurt, try to purchase a larger container. We purchase big containers of vanilla and flavor them up with fruit. Depending on what your local grocery store offers you may get lucky and be able to find items available in bulk.
#5 Know what your recycling center takes. I know what you are thinking…what does this have to do with shopping? But just do a little research. Our local recycling center doesn’t take much but we learned that the one in the next town over takes items like cereal and bread bags! This was a huge discovery for us. Now instead of having to throw them in the trash they can be recycled. We keep labeled bins in the garage and when it’s full we take it over to the other recycle center. I don’t like using plastic but I feel a lot better using it if I know it can be recycled.
Zero waste living is a journey; make a little bit of progress when ever you can! Next time you are in the grocery store, remember these tips. If you’re able to implement them it’s amazing how just a few small changes can make a world of difference.
Do you have any other tips for zero waste shopping in a small town?? Let me know in the comments below!