5 Tips for zero waste grocery shopping
By Laura Stern, Waste Reduction Coordinator
Walking through a grocery store can be very overwhelming when you’re in the zero waste mindset. In this day in age, it seems as if every product is packaged in layers and layers of non-compostable materials.
Here are a five tips to ease this process!
Before heading to the store think ahead about what steps you can take to decrease the amount of waste you accumulate. Bringing reusable bags is a simple step with a big impact. This can include reusable produce bags and larger shopping bags. Also consider having some reusable containers on hand for bulk, deli, nut butters etc.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk and using your own containers is one of the easiest ways to decrease your grocery shopping waste. Not all stores will allow you to use your own container, however The Bulk Barn and Goodness Me Natural Food Market strongly encourage it. Make sure you bring your containers to the cash register and have them weighed prior to filling them!
Consider milk in glass bottles
In the Waterloo Region both the inner and outer bags of milk and cardboard milk cartons can be recycled in the blue bin if they are rinsed. However if you are committed to decreasing your waste even more, try choosing milk products in glass botels. Companies such as Hope-Eco Farms, Harmony Organic and Hewitt’s Dairy have a variety of milk products available in glass bottles. You will pay a $1- $2 deposit for the bottle at the cash register, but can bring the bottle back to reclaim your deposit and the bottle will be reused. These products can be found at almost any health food store, some grocery stores and other stores.
Take your own container to the butcher
Zero waste grocery shopping does not necessarily mean giving up meat–lthough that is worth considering when living sustainably. Unfortunately butcher paper is not accepted as compost or recycling, however many local butchers will allow you to bring your own containers for your meat products.
The butchers I spoke with did not advertise this service, but were more than happy to accommodate! Some local butchers that welcome this are:
- The Bauer Butcher: 150 Caroline Street South, Waterloo
- Brady’s Meat and Delhi: 456 Phillip Street, Waterloo
Choose recyclable packaging
While shopping for packaged products, look for items that come in either a recyclable or compostable packaging. If you are ever unsure about a product’s packaging, ask the Region of Waterloo’s Waste Whiz. This tool is available as an app on your phone or on their website. Simply type in any product and the whiz will tell you whether it is compostable, recyclable or waste.
Bonus: Beauty Products
Beauty products are not technically a grocery item…but they are challenging to find zero waste!
Most health food and natural beauty stores offer a variety of soaps with compostable packaging or no packaging at all! When purchasing shampoo and conditioner look for items in recyclable containers. By purchasing items in glass containers, you can wash the container and use it again for bulk shopping! If you want to decrease your waste even more, try using shampoo bars or a bottle refill program.