A Guide To Eco-Friendly Grocery Shopping In A Plastic-Filled World
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If you’re like me, then lately you’ve been wanting to become a more mindful consumer when it comes to grocery shopping. And it’s absolutely doable for anyone.
One thing that I won’t give advice on within this article is how much food you should buy. And that’s because I don’t know the size of your household or whether or not you have kids. And that’s because it seems like many articles that I come across always seem to say: “if you want to be an eco conscious consumer, you need to buy less food”.
Well, it may work for the author because they don’t have kids to feed, but in my case, I do—therefore I must buy quite a bit of food (luckily my kids are like vacuums and eat everything).
I will however, give 5 great tips on how to buy your groceries in a more eco-friendly manner. These tips involve plastic swaps that are very easy to make—even at the deli counter.
Bring Reusable Shopping Bags
Even on my biggest grocery hauls I still bring my reusable grocery bags with me, even if they’re an inconvenience to the cashier, bagger, and the massive line behind me.
That’s because in-store plastic bags are neatly hung and ready to go. Places like Walmart, for example, have those carousel things for plastic bags which helps cashiers bag more efficiently.
When you give them reusable grocery bags, it disrupts the process. A Walmart employee told me that it actually does inconvenience her when she is given reusable bags. At least she was honest. But hey, we’re trying to avoid plastic, so deal with it.
If you need recommendations for some great reusable shopping bags, check out my list of best reusable grocery bags of 2021.
Use Reusable Produce Bags
A lot of grocery stores have incorporated “biodegradable” produce bags. But just how “biodegradable” are they? How fast can they break down in a land fill? Sadly, not fast enough.
Unless a biodegradable plastic bag is buried in a microbe rich environment—in other words, unless you take the time to compost it properly—these biodegradable bags that stores put out for you in the produce section will be around for months, if not years in a landfill.
That’s why it’s a very good idea to purchase a few reusable mesh produce bags. They’re eco-friendly, zero-waste and sustainable. And you can find some really great reusable produce bags made from organic material like hemp or organic cotton. Plus, just like reusable shopping bags, you can sanitize them with a wash.
Earth Hero carries an awesome grocer kit, which consists of a grocery tote and 3 mesh produce bags made from cotton and other recycled materials to help you shop in a more eco-friendly manner.
Bring A Silicone Container To The Deli Counter
This may sound a little unorthodox when it comes to purchasing sandwhich meat at the deli counter, but I have started taking my Stasher bags to the grocery store with me and I successfully avoid having my deli meat packaged in plastic.
Personally, I love ordering deli meat in lieu of packaged sandwhich meat that sits on the shelf next to the hot dogs. It just tastes fresher, my kids enjoy it, and I don’t have to buy it in a plastic container.
A while ago, I bought some of those silicone Stasher bags you’ve probably seen all over the Internet, and I figured that I can take it with me, to the store, have the deli guy weigh the meat, and then just stick it in the Stasher with the price sticker on top. And yea, they’re perfectly fine with it.
Buy Reusable Bread Bags For Bakery Bread
Even in the bakery section, a majority of grocery stores still make you put baguettes into plastic bags—which can be avoided. So, if if you’re someone who loves their bread, then consider bringing your own reusable bread bags to the grocery store with you.
Reusable bread bags have become very popular in the last couple of years. They’re great for grocery trips, and excellent for bread storage at home. Some sets even come with reusable wine bags as well.
Opt For Products In Sustainable Packaging
I have kids, so believe me, I KNOW the struggle of buying anything that doesn’t come in plastic containers when it comes to food. Yogurt is probably the toughest one. With that said, some things you just can’t go plastic-free on. But, when I can, I do buy items that are packaged in boxes or glass as opposed to plastic.
For example, instead of buying my kids the ready made jell-o in the refrigerated section (which are packaged in plastic), I opt for the powder mix that’s sold in cardboard boxes, and just make it by hand at home. Afterwards, I dump the cardboard in the recycling bin. Small swaps like that can really make a difference.