Zero Waste Grocery Shopping for Beginners
Wow does it feel good to spend money. Holy moly! Opening your wallet to swipe a credit card is like taking your pants off at the end of a long day — you gotta be careful how and where you do it, but once you do, it’s all aboard the Endorphin Express. Of course, consumerism like this comes with a lot of pollution, waste and exploitation. If we aren’t careful, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will swallow the ocean whole, so learning to buy less is a must. If you need ideas for sustainable items you can reuse again and again, you can visit our co-op by clicking here!
But then there are groceries. They go bad, and unless your sprawling garden grows enough vegetables to host Peter Rabbit’s family reunion, you’ll have to buy from a store. Problem is, the grocery store isn’t as concerned with waste reduction as you are.
So, we’ve made a list of ways to cut waste while grocery shopping.
Make a List & Don’t Shop Hungry!
Look, we’re all for trying out new recipes (we have a whole IG dedicated to it), but stick to a shopping list! If you head to the store just before dinner, you’ll be tempted to give lemon butter asparagus another go, and judging by the wilting bunches of asparagus in the trash, those greens won’t escape the chilly confines of the refrigerator.
Keep a running list on your phone and share it with anyone who needs access. That way you won’t forget lemons for your lemon butter asparagus (not speaking from experience). You’ll also save time and money while cutting back on waste.
Skip the Plastic Produce Bags
Over 12 million barrels of oil are used on single-use plastic bags alone. There’s no exaggerating the damage caused by these bags, as they are mistaken for food and ingested by animals, causing all kinds of harm to wildlife and their ecosystems. Plus, you don’t even need them!
Have you ever taken an apple off the produce pyramid and put it right in the cart? No baggie? Let me tell you, it is a rebellious act that ripples through the store, subverting the whims of those clear bags dangling along on the refrigerator bays. So go out on a limb. Put naked produce in the cart so you can tote it home in shopping bags.
First though, you’ll need bags…
Bring Your Own Totes
Come on, you know you’ve been dying for a sassy shopping tote — a way to flaunt your exquisite taste to all the pedestrian knuckle draggers limping along the supermarket’s linoleum floor. Not only have you cut plastic from your life, you did it with class.
Grab 4-5 totes and leave them in your car. They’re great for shopping, sure, but they also come in handy for all kinds of other stuff like stowing small dogs or hiding your face from people you don’t want to see at the store. The possibilities are endless.
Store Food Properly
Leafy greens hate moisture, some herbs need it. For example, spinach needs to be dry, so put your leaves in a container with a reusable dish towel to keep moisture levels at a minimum. Herbs like parsley and cilantro can be stored in a glass of water with a bag like this over the top to keep moisture in. Store carrots by cleaning them and wrapping them in a damp cloth.
Bananas and apples emit ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening process of other foods, so store them separately. There are a bunch of other cool tricks to make food last longer, so look around if you have questions about how to properly store your veggies.
Local Is Always Better
Finding local grocers is one of life’s little joys. Their produce is more likely to be grown locally, they probably know the farmer by name, and the line is always shorter.
Whatever you do, try to avoid big name retailers (that includes Trader Joe’s). They all get their produce from the same massive Monsanto farms, contributing to food deserts all over the country. Shopping local not only helps your neighbors who really need the money, but it also keeps money circulating locally. Who knows? Maybe that penny your kid swallowed was the same one you bought a Serrano pepper with!
Wait ‘til Tomorrow for Impulse Buys
Why is it that every time you walk down the art supplies aisle, something speaks to you? Well keep walking and tell that inner voice to zip it, because if it isn’t on your shopping list, you don’t need it. Better to buy what you need and come back later than to gamble and create needless waste.
Food waste accounts for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. No thanks! So keep your wallet tight when shopping and you’ll be alright. We promise!