Grocery shopping is the least of my worries these days on the zero waste front — I’ve got my routines down pat. I do need to work on finding a source of bulk oils (vinegars would also be nice), and/or a source for unwrapped cheese. And I would absolutely love it if Eric came to me all like, yo, let’s just do bakery bread from now on in your adorable bags! (He doesn’t actually talk like that in real life, but this way is more entertaining to write.)
But I don’t worry anymore about what will happen when I ask for tare on my jars, or go to the meat counter with a container. Or what anyone will say if I pull out a bag in the produce or bulk aisles. Because no one cares.
The above photo (inspired by Anna’s recent post on grocery shopping in the UK) is a pretty good representation of what my cart looks like on a weekly basis. This feeds a family of four for the week, although I also rely on my pantry and freezer — I’ve got plenty of stuff I put away this summer for these rather blah winter months. But I should also point out that we are feeding two growing girls who can eat. 😉
Anyway: Above you’ll see bakery bread in homemade bags (HERE and HERE), produce in cloth bags or nothing (we go through a lot of carrots and peppers), ground beef in a container, and bulk in jars that includes popcorn kernels, peanut butter, garlic and onion powders, dried dates and apricots, and some peppermint castile for our soap pumps. That’s the YAY NO WASTE! part of this whole ordeal.
I ran out of jars but was having a coffee emergency, so that’s the paper bag on top of the package of oatmeal — I like that brand because it’s a cardboard box and paper packages. I also bought a box of cereal — Abby’s bye item, although Johanna picked it out — and that’s … well, not quite as great because there’s a plastic bag inside the cardboard box, but the bag can be recycled at my grocery store. Same cardboard and liner situation with the box of bunny crackers. Bread is the biggest offender — Johanna was with me, and she picked out bagels AND English muffins, and I let her because A) Eric’s bye item and 2) plastic bags with no inner liner. Eric’s bread DOES have an inner liner, and that’s just trash.
And that makes me sad. (Thus my bakery fantasy above.)
Tin cans made it in the cart — refried beans and tomatoes for the emergency supply kit — as well as glass jars of organic canola oil and rice vinegar (we’d run out of both), two gallons of milk (plastic, but recyclable) and a carton of eggs (Beth, how are your chickens doing?).
Oh, and not pictured because was already in the freezer: A gallon of Tillamook Mudslide ice cream.
Also trash. The container cannot be recycled, and it’s got a coating, so it can’t even be composted.
The only other thing that isn’t pictured — because I didn’t have to buy it last weekend — that is a common purchase is cheese. We have a cheesemaker in the area (ish), but they wrap their cheeses with plastic, too, and it’s incredibly expensive. (Although totally delicious.) I looked into buying milk from a dairy, incidentally, as suggested by someone in the comments, but unfortunately, that isn’t a thing here.
I know I can do better — I mean, there’s still a German deli I haven’t checked out yet that may or may not have unwrapped cheese and oils — although some of what I could do (like milk in glass) aren’t financially feasible for us. (I really do need to do a post where I compare the price of zero waste items to their packaged counterparts — I am positive that zero waste items are more expensive here, but I can’t prove it.) But I also think that, given I only had to make two stops — just my favorite market and the bakery — it’s not terrible.
And I’m super grateful for the bulk options in my area that allows me to shop like this. I know that’s not the case for everyone.
Bonus photos of the grocery store: I forgot to take pictures of the organic bulk coffee and tea options we have when I did my initial grocery store post, but I remembered last weekend! It’s actually kind of amazing that we have access to something like this — we’re not a particularly large town, and this is a rather decent selection:
Next up: I have a treat for you on Monday — a guest post on emergency preparedness from someone who’s lived it.