If you’re like many who are attempting to be more conscious of waste in our everyday lives, you have considered the amount of packaging you purchase at the store! Plastic, plastic everywhere! Luckily, with a bit of effort and forethought, you too can have an impact of the amount of packaging you consume.
These are 3 simple, but highly effective, ways of minimizing the waste that you buy.
1) Take your own bags
This has been a thing for a while now; and yet many of us forget to do it! I don’t know about you but I have a bag of bags (you read that correctly), and I inevitably leave them at home ALL the time. So my suggestion is to leave them in your car! Or tie a chicobag to your purse! Get in the good habit of taking them with you. Eventually it will become second nature and you will feel good about protecting the Earth.
I do want to mention that it is more “eco-friendly” to use bags you already have, collect hand-me-downs from a friend with too many, or to purchase second hand. The reason is, that buying a brand new cotton tote has other factors to consider when it comes to damage of the earth. These include the cost of production, soil health and farming practices, and transportation and fuel costs. So do your best to reuse and reduce by looking for second hand options first, then buying a bag new.
Also….you do not need that “pretty” new bag when you have 10 already! That’s right, I’m talking to YOU. Attempt to be consumer aware with your bag purchases to ensure you are minimizing your plastic and fabric consumption overall.
2) Shop the bulk section (and bring your own bags or containers)
The bulk section is an elusive mystery to some people, but in all, it will save you money and save the world on packaging! Simply, it is a pay per pound section of the store. Those almonds that you want, buy the bulk instead of the prepackaged! Oatmeal? Granola? Popcorn? Candies? They’re all there! Check it out!
Most importantly about shopping bulk, is to remember to bring your own container. THIS is something that scared me for the longest time. I always just used the little plastic baggies they had available there, but then I started to recognize the amount of waste I was consuming and throwing away. “So how do I bring my own container”, you might ask. Well, some stores do sell cotton, reusable bulk bags, which are great….but I am a big advocate for using what you already have! Do you have any glass mason jars? Kitchen containers that you like? Or even just old baggies you want to reuse? Bring those! And now the scary part; ask the cashier to weigh the container for you BEFOREHAND while it’s empty and document the weight, maybe in your phone or on a notepad. Then go fill your container, and when you get rung up at the register, just inform the cashier how much each container weighs so they can subtract that from the final weight! It’s a little bit of extra work but once you do it, it’ll not only get easier, but you will more than likely remember the weight of each jar or container that you use, making it easier each time you shop.
To me, this little bit of forethought is worth the reduction in plastic consumption and single use waste!
3) Choose Loose Veggies
It boggles my mind when I shop for organic produce and it’s all wrapped in plastic! ARRGH! Sometimes it’s the only option, but when the option for loose vegetables are offered, I purchase those instead. I understand that the common reason is to protect organic integrity and not cross-contaminate produce, but many of us know that shopping organic is much bigger than the pesticide exposure (yet another discussion for later). Sometimes it may require some food prep on your part (i.e. Spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots tend to come with the stems), but in the long run, it’s worth reducing the demand for that plastic wrapped food. And again, I do not grab those thin plastic produce bags when I shop! Everything is loose and I put it on the conveyor belt that way!
I also do not purchase pre-prepped foods. It costs more and it comes packaged in plastic. You know all that chopped squash, watermelon, grapes etc you see? It will save you money and a ton of plastic waste if you choose to make time for the prep yourself. Your grocery bill and Mother Earth will thank you for the effort you made.
I would love to hear how you reduce your plastic waste while you shop! Comment below to share your thoughts!