The biggest frustration of living Zero Waste is being unable to find bulk stores selling package free grocery and pantry essentials.
Truth to be told, not everyone has the same access to bulk, and even if we have the best intentions to reduce our waste, we can fall short due to the lack of access.
However, I’m determined of not letting this fact discourage me of reducing our impact on the planet, but rather, focus on what we CAN do. Doing our best with what we have and celebrating the little victories!
To start, remember to bring your reusable bag or your “Granny” trolley (yes, I have one of those)
Here are 6 tips to be Zero Waste without access to bulk stores.
1. Buy loose produce or carry reusable produce bags
Almost all produce like potatoes, onions, greens, fruits will be perfectly fine carried directly in the shopping cart and after checkout, in your reusable grocery bag.
When it comes to more delicate or small items such as mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc use smaller produce fabric bags, similar to these ones (made of organic cotton).
2. Opt for Paper, Metal, or Glass
Go for more eco-friendly packaging that can be easily recycled or can naturally decompose, over plastic.
Choose paper packaging because it’s biodegradable. This is especially easy for oats, flour, sugar, chocolate and even some chips brands come in cardboard.
Then, there is aluminum, which has a high degree to be recycled, thus we can guarantee that the resources will be re-purposed and reused for another product.
Finally, there is glass. It is great to reuse many times. It can be used for storing food, DIY beauty products, etc.
3. Buy the Biggest Container Possible
Sometimes, plastic packaging is unavoidable. In such cases, look for the largest container the store has (assessing first that you can properly store or use it before it spoils).
The one bigger plastic package is better than numerous smaller ones.
Rice is a great example, you can have options going from 1kg up to 10 kg. opt for the biggest one!, not only does this mean you have a lower packaging to gram ratio, you’re also paying less for the food.
4. DIY – Do it yourself
Ask yourself if whether you need to buy the item at all. Can you borrow it?, Is it at home? Can you go without it? Can you do it yourself?.
This can go for lots of things like pre-made meals, non-essential beauty products and “convenient” food.
5. Buy locally and seasonally
Focus on buying food that was grown closer to home, since it had a shorter trip from the farm to the grocery store.
Become that person who reads the tiny stickers on produce, and find out where it is grown. If the sweet potatoes were grown domestically, but normal potatoes were grown halfway across the world, consider opting for the sweet potatoes.
6. If in plastic, choose the higher number.
All plastic has a recycle sign on it. Focus on the little number inside of the recycle sign. The higher the number the more likely it is to actually be downcycled. Most of the time plastic is just incinerated or send to the landfill.
Ultimately, keep in mind that perfection is the enemy of execution, this is not a contest, just do something, start small, be curious and experiment.
The goal is to reduce your environmental impact overall
How do you approach zero-waste living?
Please share any thoughts or advice in the comments below.