Blog Contributor: Erica Harper
2019 was the year of exposing plastic waste and its effect on our environment all over the world. Social media was littered with pictures and videos of shorelines and even animals covered in Ziplock or grocery bags, plastic bottles, six pack rings, straws and bottle caps to name a few. Further, a report that was introduced at the World Economic Forum in January 2016 by Ellen MacArthur (British environmentalist) states that there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050. Not surprisingly, much of the plastic seen abroad and on Canadian shorelines come from food packaging and grocery bags. A simple way to eliminate this incredible amount of waste is to go grocery shopping in a zero-waste fashion because plastic-free packaging is in style!
Although the zero-waste “movement” can be daunting when you first look into it, it’s actually a lot easier than it seems when you have the right tools to be successful. This blog post aims to be a guide to all things zero-waste and bulk shopping.
First things first, you need the right tools before you go out and make your first zero-waste trip:
- Reusable grocery bags
- Reusable produce bags (often overlooked, but very important!)
- Bulk containers such as mason jars
That’s it! These three items will make your life much simpler and you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried this before. Now, let’s go into a bit more detail.
Reusable grocery bags are pretty common in many Canadians’ lives, but there is still a percentage of people who either forget to bring them or do not bother with them whatsoever. My tip is to keep bags in your car, in your purse and at the front door of your house or apartment so that you never forget them. They are usually inexpensive and can be bought at most grocery stores or on sites like Amazon.
Reusable produce bags are a complete game changer. They are usually made out of mesh or fabric and allow you to easily complete the produce part of your grocery trip without purchasing plastic. Of course, there are exceptions and some fruits and vegetables come pre-wrapped in plastic (I’m looking at you, cucumbers!) but the important part is to do your best. The zero-waste lifestyle is all about doing what you can with the stores and situations that you are presented with because there is only so much you can control as a shopper.
Bulk containers, such as mason jars, are great for purchasing all your pantry staples at stores like BulkBarn. If you’ve never shopped in bulk before, this store will make you feel like a kid in a candy store. Make sure to bring your containers to the checkout first to be weighed (the weight will be reduced from total cost at the end of your shopping spree). Then take a stroll through the aisles and choose from a variety of nuts, rice, oats, baking mixes, chocolate, candy, health foods and even nut butters. Don’t forget to have a running list of the codes corresponding to each food item on your phone so that the employees checking you out can charge you accordingly. Lastly, a great benefit of shopping in bulk is that you tend to save money and have less food waste because you buy exactly what you need instead of a pre-packaged amount.
As you can see, moving towards zero-waste grocery shopping doesn’t have to be overwhelming – it can actually be quite exciting! Hopefully you feel inspired to begin eliminating unnecessary plastic from your grocery shopping routine and are looking forward to learning more about reducing waste in your life. Please remember to be patient with yourself and to do your best whenever possible because moving towards being “zero-waste” is not about being perfect!