Zero-Waste Grocery Essentials in 4 Steps
July 27, 2018 • 3 min read
Your journey into zero-waste or low-waste living can begin by tackling one area of your life at a time. Switching out plastic for beeswax wrap, or plastic bags for totes are easy steps to take. Groceries are a great place to start, because the switches to a sustainable practice are far easier than you might think. How you shop, transport and store your food isn’t just about the plastic you might be using, but also about the relationship you have with food, the ultimate source of life.
Taking a more conscious approach to your food is beneficial for your health, well-being and the planet. Here are some easy and sustainable zero-waste grocery essentials, in 3 manageable steps, to help you go plastic-free.
You might also like: 23 Simple and Easy Ways to Go Plastic-Free
Step 1: Use Net Bags
Those thin bags supplied at grocery stores for shoppers to carry their produce home in are an unbelievable waste. The mere minutes your produce sits in those bags for (from store to car to home) is absolutely not worth the eternity they spend on earth. If you shop at a farmer’s market, you will avoid these bags altogether, but for those of us without that option, we usually reach for them automatically at the store.
The coolest thing about most produce is that it already has a skin! Yes, most fruits and vegetables have been kindly provided for by nature, and have a protective barrier – their rind. Instead of placing them in a plastic bag, let them be naked. Most of us wash our produce at home anyways, so those bags really aren’t doing much. If we’re buying multiples and don’t want loose apples rolling around our cars, net bags are an excellent option. These reusable bags have small holes in them for the produce to breathe, and so that cashiers can easily see what’s in them. Stash a few of these in your car or purse for when you shop, and boom, your zero-waste grocery journey is a step closer to being complete. We go by the mantra: net bags or naked!
Step 2: Carry Tote Bags
Going hand in hand with net bags, the other incredibly wasteful grocery item is a plastic carrier bag. Stores that give out plastic bags instead of paper ones at checkout have limited days. Once again, the mere minutes that your groceries sit in those bags for is truly not worth the eternity they spend on earth. While many people argue that they use them for garbage in their homes, the majority of them end up in landfills and in the ocean.
Step 2 in your zero-waste grocery essentials journey is to carry your own reusable bag with you! While many people might grumble at the thought of this, it just means packing a lightweight tote or fold-up bag in your car, purse or backpack. Taking up very little room but giving the ocean a little less to worry about seems like a fair trade off! After all: “it’s only one plastic bag, said 8 billion people” – am I right?
Grab yourself a cute tote bag if you don’t already have one, and parade around like the eco-warrior you are!
Step 3: Bring Reusable Containers
When shopping for bulk or loose items like nuts, seeds, olives, and flours, we often reach for either those thin plastic bags again, or those clear plastic tubs that the store provides. My recent “grind your own peanut butter” experience at Whole Foods taught me that not all places allow you to bring your own container. For those that do allow it, we suggest you take advantage of it!
Step 3 is to reduce plastic waste even further by eliminating single-use bags or tubs to carry your item home in. Bring a reusable Tupperware or glass container from home (some stores also provide reusable jars and containers for you, that you can easily return on your next visit). You can have it weighed before filling up. Once this becomes a habit, it won’t even be something to think about! The best part is that when you don’t require a bulk item from the store, you can still use your container to store leftover food or to pack a lunch in – we love multi-purpose containers!
Step 4: Embrace Beeswax Wrap
Beeswax wrap is quickly becoming a zero-waste grocery essential. An incredible product that not only saves on plastic-waste, this earth-friendly food wrap helps keep your fare alive for much longer than traditional single-use plastic food wrap. Abeego is a Canadian brand, the original makers of beeswax wrap and we couldn’t love their product more! This product actually preserves your avocado, stopping it in its tracks from its otherwise split-second demise.
Step 4 is to embrace beeswax wrap and use it to preserve your food for longer, honouring the produce you have and being conscious of excess waste that comes from poorly keeping your food.
Useful for all types of food, I’ve used Abeego for half-used lemons, avocados, tomatoes, a variety of produce, and even bread. If preserving your food wasn’t enough, this beeswax wrap can be re-used, up to 100 times, and only needs a quick wash to remove stains. Made from delicious-smelling beeswax in BC, Abeego’s opaqueness is what slows down your produce’s ageing process, as exposure to light causes rot to set in quicker. Rather than tossing multiple sheets of thin plastic wrap (that barely work) into the trash every time you have leftover food, re-using a beeswax wrap over and over again helps save some marine life from accidentally eating microplastic masquerading as jellyfish. All you have to do is wrap your item and seal the ends of the wrap with the warmth of your hands. Pop it in the fridge and you’re good to go!
If we haven’t already said enough about this amazing brand, the fact that this is a woman-owned small Canadian business just ticks all our boxes!
Making the switch from wasteful plastic wrap to beeswax wrap, or from produce bags to net bags is truly a no-brainer, and is a great way to begin your journey into zero-waste living. Could you be doing more? Of course! There’s always room for improvement, but we figured these 4 steps are a great place to start and help set you on the path towards conscious consuming.
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