From Trader Joe’s to Instacart to meal kit services and everything in between, there are so many options for us to choose from when it comes to getting our groceries. Grocery shopping is a weekly routine for many of us. We want it to be a quick and convenient to fit into our busy lives. Unfortunately, some of these conveniences result in unnecessary waste. If you are interested in zero waste living, examining the way you shop for food is a great opportunity for reducing the amount of food waste and single-use plastic you create on an individual level.
If you haven’t seen this episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on plastics yet, you might not know that only about 9% of plastics ever created get recycled. So while certain types of plastics can be effectively recycled, it’s a good idea to look for ways to avoid the material in the first place. A simple trick for reducing the need for food packaging at most traditional grocery stores is by sticking mostly to the produce aisle. You can find most fruits and vegetables completely unpackaged there. For your pantry staples like rice, beans, and flour, explore the bulk aisle of the grocery store if you have access to one. Otherwise, if you’re in a pinch or don’t have access to a grocery store with these options, opt to purchase foods packaged plastic-free by choosing products found in paper, cardboard, and metal.
Readjusting your grocery routine takes time. Be patient with yourself as you figure out the right resources that will work with your needs. Shopping at a farmers market is also a great way to connect with local farmers, reduce food waste, and shop in-season.
Head to the store or market with a reusable bag to help reduce waste - we love these straw bags and totes hand made by global artisans
There are many reasons for this but one that you can control is making sure the food you buy actually gets eaten before it goes bad. There are somesimple tips and tricks to make food last longer after you bring it home from the grocery store. First of all, properly storing our food will extend the shelf life of fresh produce significantly. Citrus is best kept on the countertop. Apples give off ethylene gas which causes other foods to rot more quickly. I use a salad spinner to keep leafy greens from wilting in the fridge.
Start small with a couple of herbs in an indoor kitchen garden. If you’re looking for something that feels like a mini science experiment, you can regrow certain vegetables like green onions, garlic, carrot tops, and lettuce in water on your countertop or windowsill. And if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can expand to gardening with whatever space you have available to you to provide your kitchen with some of the foundational ingredients you cook regularly.
There are few things that bring me more joy than cooking a meal for my partner or for friends and being able to say that I grew one (or multiple) of the ingredients myself. It adds another layer of love and care to the meal. Because not only did I make the food, but I also made the food. There are so many creative ways to reduce both food and packaging waste by finding the right balance that works for you. Take your time to try things out and figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle.
some of our most favorite zero waste/ethically made kitchen items including the zero waste recycled sponges by tonlé, wood mini spoons by Haiti Design Co,& zero waste slate grey linen napkins by tonlé
Ever wondered how much trash you actually create? Sustainability expert Moji Igun of Blue Daisi Consulting does a zero waste audit on CURA collective and explains the process and how to perform one yourself to begin your very own zero waste journey.