Shopping can be fun, and it can be a chore. When it comes to Zero Waste Shopping, it can really feel inconvenient – especially if you’re just starting out. I remember when I started out, it was nearly impossible to find any shop that was Zero Waste friendly. Some of them do make an effort, though. More and more of our major supermarkets are starting Zero Waste friendly initiatives. Unfortunately, they don’t always succeed. In the end, it comes down to us to really turn a shopping trip from a waste gathering session, into a saving one.
6 of My Top Tips For Any Zero Waste Shopping Trip:
1. Bring Your Own
Bring your own everything! If you can, take your own shopping bags. If you don’t have reusable cloth shopping bags, you can re-purpose some old shirts into beautiful bags! Especially try to find bags, or to use shirts, made from natural fibers. Synthetic material sheds tiny plastic fibers when you wash them. Eventually, those fibers end up in our water sources.
You should also try to use your own cloth produce bags, and take your own glass bottles and jars. You can use them at bulk bins (for candy, nuts, dried fruit, or whatever else strikes your fancy). Just remember to weigh them BEFORE you get the price of your goodies! You can also use metal containers when you visit the deli for cold meats, cheese, or any ready cooked food.
2. Stick To Your Shopping List
This might sound a little silly, but stick with me here. When I don’t have a shopping list, I tend to wander the shopping isles, grabbing anything that catches my eye. It doesn’t matter that I don’t need it – impulse buys are just very hard to overcome. But with a shopping list in hand, it makes the job so much easier. You can leave your plastic covered impulse goods in the isles, and cut away a lot of unnecessary waste.
Planning ahead will also let you know exactly how many jars, bags and containers you’ll need for your trip. With just a little bit of planning, you can make a big difference.
3. Pick A Few Good Zero Waste Shopping Spots
It’s not just about what you shop for, it’s where you shop! Finding a local farmer’s market is always the top choice. Unfortunately, those are few and far between in South Africa. If there’s no farmer’s market close to you or anywhere in your area, there are other options you can look at. Many of our local supermarkets do still have bulk bins to get things like nuts, fruits, seeds, and sometimes rice and beans. Try to use those when you shop, instead of buying canned or bagged.
You can also visit thrift stores, pawn shops, and yard sales to buy second hand items instead of buying new electronics from the store. A lot of the time, they’re in very good condition (although, a good cleaning won’t hurt!). It’ll save it from making it’s way to a landfill, and you might just find a hidden gem!
4. Buy Fresh
You might think that the sole benefit of buying fresh is that you can pack it in your produce tote, and be done with it. But it’s so much more than that. Buying season vegetables and fruit means that it was likely produced locally. It didn’t travel large distances to get to you. Overall, it’s impact on the environment is significantly smaller.
You can do the same with bread. Instead of buying bread in plastic that was shipping from a warehouse, buy freshly baked bread and rolls right from the supermarket.
5. Milk In Glass Bottles
Here’s one you might not know about. A local company called Happy Milk offers a glass bottle milk (and 100% fruit juice) delivery service. It’s eco-friendly, and it’s delicious! The down side is that they mainly service the Gauteng area at this point, but if there’s enough interest, expansion might be an option!
You can always try to look for local providers as well. Getting your milk in glass bottles means that you can return those bottles to be refilled, instead of discarding cartons that will eventually end up in a landfill!
6. Avoid Like The Plague
Processed foods, snacks, sodas, cereals, canned and bottled – these are the things you want to avoid. Stick to the store perimeter where all the fresh goodies are, and pass right over the processed mess in the centre isles. You should also try to avoid bottled water, and any other bottled drinks. The amount of waste these generate is more than enough to circle the earth several times!
Those are just a few of the basic tips. If you have any tips of your own, please leave them down in the comments, or send me messages! I love sharing stories with others in the community.
Until next time…happy Greenish living!