zero waste grocery shopping fruits veggies store

5 Tips for Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

Consider participating in the Zero Waste Challenge! Check out Reep Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live more sustainably! 

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!

Be Prepared

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

Containers holding bulk candy and nuts.

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 for people to want to maintain their fitness state with diet and a program from an Online Fitness Trainer.

Take Your Own Container to the Farmer's Market for Meat and Cheese

zero waste shopping produce bag grocery fruits vegetables

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. I also recommend getting all your medical supplies from compounding pharmacies, which are much more affordable.

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: Body Care and 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 consider purchasing from bulk stores with refill programs. By purchasing items in glass containers, you can wash the container and use it again for bulk shopping! 

Pro Tip: You can purchase many of the items above from local businesses like Zero Waste BulkFENIGOLegacy GreensFull Circle Foods and Molloy’s, all of which offer either delivery options or contact-less pick up options. Do you have any go-to spots where you buy your low waste products.

By Laura Stern

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2 thoughts on “5 Tips for Zero Waste Grocery Shopping”

  1. I have been using the paper bags provided for mushrooms for other produce and wish they had similar (slightly larger) bags for bulk pasta, rice, nuts etc at major grocery stores.

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