Five items I no longer buy at the grocery store

I had such a lovely Saturday — I got caught up on laundry, cleaned my kitchen, made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, took a rather great nap in the sun (!), read a bit of Station Eleven (eBook from the library) AND went grocery shopping.

That might not sound very relaxing, but it was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Anyway, as I was going through aisles — or not going through them, I guess — it hit me that there are so many things I don’t buy anymore that used to fill my cart. It’s part zero waste, part my jerk of a stomach (when you can’t eat the packaged cookies anyway, why buy them?), and part access to a fairly decent bulk section. But whatever the reason, I’m just excited that there are five less packages coming into the house to toss or recycle each week.

Exhibit 1

I used to buy mandarines every single week for the girls — they are big fans. Sometimes I’d get annoyed because one would be moldy and I wouldn’t notice until I’d get home, but I never thought about the waste, both from the netting and the label. Since the project started, I’ve just been buying plain ol’ oranges. No one has complained. I’m not even sure they’ve noticed.

Exhibit 2

I used to keep a package (or two) of granola bars in my desk drawer for emergencies. I tend to get a little crazy when I’m hungry (that’s the downside of a fast metabolism). I also used to buy packages for the girls to take with them in their lunches, to basketball games and practices, and just eat as snacks. I stopped buying them when the project started, but was having a hard time figuring out how to replace them in our lives. Then Jeanne saved the day with her No Bake Energy Bar (or Mom’s Weird Granola Bar in our household). I make a new batch every single week; I eat it daily for breakfast, Eric and the girls like it for snacks. It’s proved a very sustainable option.

Exhibit 3

Now THIS was a heartbreaker. Cinnamon is my favorite flavor (well, besides chocolate) and, having that aforementioned jerk of a stomach (to review, it refuses all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, which is a ton of fun!), these mints were the closest thing I had to cinnamon-flavored candy. They come in a recyclable or reusable tin … that’s wrapped in plastic. I couldn’t justify them any more when the project started. I looked at them Saturday with a little longing in my soul — why lie? — but I don’t regret the decision, and know I will stay strong even after the project is over.

Exhibit 4

Cinnamon mints may have been a heartbreaker, but plain yogurt has been the hardest for me to give up — that used to be my go-to breakfast, with bulk maple syrup and maybe a sprinkle of walnuts. (That is seriously delicious.) Someone suggested recently that I start making it, and I’d love to, but I know in my heart I never will — it would just be one more thing on my plate. So I just like to walk by and say, hey there cow, and wipe the tear from my eye. (Okay fine, I don’t cry and I don’t talk to yogurt. But that makes for a way more boring story.)

Exhibit 5

It’s actually been a fairly long time since I’ve purchased individual herbs and spices at the store — we have a really great selection in our bulk aisle (you can even get some stuff in bulk that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the store) — but it’s only been a couple of years since I started taking my own glass jars in to fill. In retrospect, herbs and spices are a great way to dip your feet in the zero waste, bulk aisle, bring your own container waters. Because the jars tend to be smaller and easier to tote into the store, and it doesn’t feel as weird or out there.

There’s no real rhyme or reason to these items, incidentally — I just happened to see them and decided to snap a photo. And there just happened to be five. I’m trying to remember what else I used to buy, but it’s funny how you forget about things you no longer “see.” (I just don’t go down a lot of those aisles anymore.)

Okay, my friends, your turn — what have you given up in light of new zero waste or minimalist leanings? Do you miss any of it? Why hasn’t the world come up with unwrapped natural cinnamon mints? Is that too much to ask?!

P.S. I just remembered that our town’s plastic bag ban goes into effect today. I’m curious how this is going to look during my next shopping trip.

Next up: Updates! Including a rather scandalous story about Eric trying to circumvent my laundry room trash can situation.