Zero Waste Food Shopping (on a budget) and a little about us…
I work in a coffee shop right next door to a very busy supermarket. This gives me the opportunity to witness first hand the madness that is grocery shopping. PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE!! They are now shrink-wrapping bananas !!!! What the??With the label “for your convenience” – how is it more convenient to have to unwrap the plastic off of an already perfectly naturally packaged item such as a banana?! Seriously, we as a society have become obsessed with plastic. So much so that they have predicted that by 2025 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans!!! What the???!!
Shopping Zero Waste is becoming easier by the day. Here are some easy tips/tricks:
1/ Reusable Bags
They’re everywhere – and they’re your first step in the right direction- now, don’t be fooled by those “reusable” plastic ones that all the major supermarkets are pushing, they’re horrible! They Last maybe 3 shops & then you’re stuck with thick plastic bags to try n dispose of – not good! I have op shopped some of my reusable bags, purchased some & been given others as gifts. I carry 2 in my handbag, ones that fold easily, this way I find I am never caught without one if I happen to need to carry more than my hands can handle. I always have some in the boot of my car. And I have taken to keeping one at work as well – this pretty much guarantee’s that I’m not caught without one. I make a habit of putting the ones that need to go back in car at our back doorstep so that I basically trip over them haha, this way they get taken back to the car.
2/ Reusable produce bags.
They’re pretty much everywhere now. My local fruit n veg shop even stocks them now after seeing me use them a couple of times, the owners daughter asked about them & then a few weeks later when I ducked in there, low n behold they were selling them. I normally shop at farmers markets as they’re generally cheaper, fresher & more local produce, but on those odd occasions, I choose to support my local fruit n veg shop. I try & avoid the big supermarkets, especially for fruit n veg! I’m not perfect, still so far from it, but I’m a work In progress. *bonus note* netted produce bags double as great wash bags in your washing machine! FYI… you’re welcome
You can either purchase Produce bags, or sew them yourself from old sheets, netting curtains etc etc – I am blessed with extremely creative friends who sewed me personally monogrammed produce bags for my Birthdate last year so amazing! It helps to have friends that support your lifestyle choices.
3/ Reusable Containers – Jars – Boxes etc.
I personally believe that we should use what we already have before we go purchasing anything. If you used to be a Tupperware junkie in a previous life & your drawers/cupboards are full of the stuff – use it! Don’t produce MORE waste by donating it or throwing it away just so you can “look the part “ and go spend all these $$ on the latest reusable stainless steal containers or vogue designed Jars that match your decor I have op shopped Tupperware, jars that have come with sauces or something else in them, that I simply wash & reuse. I collect the plastic bags that would otherwise get thrown out at work (after only one use ) and I bring them home, wash them & use them to store produce in my crisper in the fridge or collect the cat litter or for projects that the kids do at school… the list goes on. I cannot think of the last “new” container that I purchased?? Why would you is my question most of the time ha ha…
Now comes to where I shop.. Let’s get real…
We are a typical middle class Aussie family. My husband has his own business that he runs from his home office. I as above mentioned, manage a coffee shop. We have 2 kidlets, a mortgage, one car, 2 motorcycle’s & a cat.
We do our best to manage the money that comes in, all while doing our best to live this zero waste lifestyle that I’m so passionate about. Having said that, We are not completely zero waste *yet* – and that’s ok – when our budget allows for it, I do completely package free, Zero Waste shops. When it doesn’t, I simply do my best.
Take last week for instance – We had our usual home bills, plus School fees due, plus excursion fees due (why they’re already having an excursion is beyond me, they’ve only been back a school 3 weeks haha) Skateboarding school fees due, advertising fees due for my martial arts class that I run – the list went on – and we still needed to eat! I sat down, looked at what we had in the pantry/fridge/freezer & then built our meals around that. I had already been to our local farmers markets that Saturday, then I went to our local Bulk food store (The Source bulk food store Maroochydore) and filled my repurposed jars with a few small goodies that I don’t like to buy in packaging because it only comes in plastic at the supermarket. Then I went to the supermarket, yes a big chain store one, and I did my best to only purchase what we NEEDED and for that stuff to at least come in Reusable or recyclable packaging. We ate really well still, I will not compromise our health for $$, and I did some negotiating on when bills needed to be finalised with various people. I half paid them where I could & promised to pay the rest this week, which I will honour my word by doing so, and this week I will do my best again.
This journey isn’t perfect people, it’s real, it’s messy, it’s frustrating, its wasteful at times even… BUT, it’s dreamy, hope filled & all round freaking amazing when you look at it too.
Start somewhere, do something & feel goof about it. Choose to reuse that takeaway container you accidentally accumulated by taking it with you to the deli for your olives or to the bulk food store to fill it with goodies put a foldable reusable bag in your handbag & use it instead of a plastic one next time you shop. Save that pasta sauce jar & store leftovers in it instead of purchasing plastic containers to do so.
Small, simple steps are actually all it takes to make a difference. And before you know it, it’s habit & you’re rocking the Zero Waste lifestyle.