So a couple weeks ago we talked about some ways you can cut down on your waste while on the go. This next installment tackles one of the largest sources of household waste, our food- how we get it, store it, use it, and get rid of it.
We’ll start at the first step, in the grocery store
1) Reusable bags
For many of us this might go without saying, but it’s a good first step for a lot of people looking to cut down on their plastic waste. Reusable shopping bags for your groceries are a must, but the most important thing it to be prepared. I’m trying to always have a super light weight bag (like this) stashed in the bottom of my purse or bag just in case I happen to grab something while I’m running around.
Even the best of us are sometimes guilty of grabbing a plastic produce bag or two though, especially for more fragile produce like leafy greens. Just as important as carry-out bags are reusable produce bags like these, which can also be used for bulk items and to store produce at home.
2) Choose Wisely
Most modern grocery stores are not designed to limit waste. Nothing makes me crazier than seeing something that’s not even overly delicate, like a lime or an orange, sitting on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in 17 layers of plastic wrap. It can be hard in some stores, but choosing fresh produce and putting it in your reusable mesh bag will go far in reducing your waste footprint. Sometimes these choices mean an extra step for you- i.e. washing your spinach instead of buying it pre-cleaned in the plastic bins, or chopping up big carrots instead of buying baby carrots in a bag. These little actions have a big impact, however, and it’s also a good incentive to cut out over-packaged processed foods and eat a little healthier!
And at the end of day reducing your waste is about process, not perfection. Choose ingredients that come in metal or glass containers, because these can be recycled many, many more times than plastic (and in the case of glass jars can even be reused for bulk containers!).
3) Bulk up
Most bulk stores (including Bulk Barn!!!) allow you to bring your own (clean) bags, containers, and jars for your bulk goodies! This is a great way to get all your staples, from pasta and dried beans, to honey and tea, to spices and soup mix without the wasteful packaging they usually come in at conventional grocery stores.
And the waste reduction doesn’t have to stop at the store, there are lots of ways to cut down on your kitchen waste once you get home too!
4) Learn how to store your produce without plastic
If you aren’t putting your produce in bags at the store you’ll have to learn some techniques for keeping it crisp once you get it home. This post from My Plastic Free Life breaks down exactly how to store every conceivable fruit and vegetable for freshness sans plastic waste.
And as was mentioned in our last post, Tupperware, glass jars, or reusable beeswax wrap are great alternatives to plastic wrap or bags for your leftovers! Although a little on the pricier side, reusable silicone bags like these are also a great alternative, and can easily replace every conceivable use for my personal zero-waste kryptonite- freezer bags.
5) Replace your paper
Though paper towel is compostable in Guelph, it’s still unnecessary. You can save yourself some money and reduce the waste incurred in the production process by swapping it our for towels and rags. Good quality tea towels and microfiber clothes are neither expansive nor hard to come by, but if you want to be even greener just try cutting up some old t-shirts or towels to make the perfect rags for kitchen mishaps.
The same theory goes for reusable fabric napkins! These are surprisingly easy to find at garage sales, clearance bins of home goods stores, and are even a pretty easy DIY. Just keep a laundry bin at hand and wash them when they pile up!
6) And last but not least, COMPOST!
Most landfills are too tightly compacted for biodegradable waste like kitchen scraps to break down. These carrots, for example, were sitting in a landfill for 10 YEARS
Use your city of Guelph compost bin (sorting guide here), or see this page for tips on how to start composting at home. In residence? Drop Natalie a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can get you set up with your very own bin!
Thanks for following along with this series Gryphons! Remember to comment on this post or on any of our social media shares to get entered in our giveaway! We’ve already gotten so many great tips! Here are some of our favorite ways that our readers are being sustainable
paigey.oneill I am using a reusable mug with the B-Corp Cupanion! This way I can keep track of how much waste I am saving while still enjoying my morning ☕️!
maddychauvin I use reusable mesh bags for my produce at the grocery store, and always bring my own bags for everything else! 😊 love this idea by the way!!
baileyelan I use reusable dryer balls rather than dryer sheets and use mason jars for everything!
shaelynnsmit I’ve been using the diva cup for 4 years and it’s been great not having to buy tampons and it creates zero waste!!! Mother Earth would be proud 🌲
on.my.way.to.0.waste I’ve been buying my dry foods in bulk and package free by bringing my own jars and reusable bags when I go shopping!
kaelykraeft bringing mason jars for bulk food, asking for no straw and bringing my own bottles for water!
claireehlert I bring a reusable mug/bottle whenever I go out so I don’t have to get a single use cup from a cafe if I’m in a rush!
tennyjrinhI always bring a mug/water bottle with me, and use reusable bags when I go grocery shopping! I’ve stopped taking the flimsy plastic bags to put my produce in at the grocery store as well 😊🌎❤️
tennyjrinhI also am making an effort to just buy second hand/vintage clothing so I am not contributing to clothing waste 👍🏼
loco_pacha_mammaI use a bamboo toothbrush and homemade toothpaste in a glass jar to brush my teeth 👍🏻😁
glenysrobinsonnn I make my own deodorant from coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda and essential oils and keep it in a mason jar! I use handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex and just toss them in the laundry. I always have reusable cutlery and straws in my backpack, so I never have to worry about forgetting! 🥄🍃
glenysrobinsonnn Oh! In the summer I make homemade popsicles instead of buying individually wrapped ones! So fun! 🍭💫
zerowasteguelph I use a charcoal stick in a big vintage glass water jug in the fridge to filter my water, no more plastic from Brita filters and certainly no plastic water bottles! 💦💦💦