Your Guide For Zero Waste Shopping and How To Go Package Free

Grocery shopping, it’s a chore we all have to do. It is also a chore that can create a lot of unwanted waste.

Food packaging and plastic bags contribute a large portion of household waste. 

If you want to have a positive impact, one of the easiest ways is to work towards being a low waste grocery shopper. 

This is your guide to be prepared for zero waste shopping and how to go package-free at the store. 

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5 Low Waste Grocery Shopping Tips 

1. Bring Your Own Bags

Bringing your own bags to go grocery shopping is one of the best ways to reduce waste. This may already be standard practice for you, especially if you live in an area where plastic bags are banned.

But for many, plastic bags are still the most used option for bagging up groceries. 

Plastic-free grocery shopping begins with carrying your own reusable bags. Keep some in your car, your purse, or backpack. 

Having totes and reusable bags available are an easy solution to cutting down on plastic waste. We have 5 bags so we are always prepared for when we go to the grocery store or the farmers market. 

2. Buy In Bulk

Nope, I’m not talking about huge membership warehouses with insanely big shopping carts. I am talking about bulk food that is found at health food stores are local co-ops that are sold loose in bins, with no packaging. 

It is bulk shopping that allows you to refill reusable containers and buy as much or little as you need. 

Buying food in bulk helps you reduce wasteful packaging that needs to be recycled, or worse, sent to the landfill. 

Keep some empty jars and reusable silicone baggies with your shopping bags and totes to cut down on single-use plastic bags. 

3. Plastic Free Packaging

You can’t find everything that you need in bulk, especially if you follow a specific diet. If you need to buy food that isn’t loose, look for food items that are packaged in cardboard, glass, or cans, which all can be recycled. 

Plastic really can’t be truly recycled, but rather gets “downcylced” into a lesser form of itself until it eventually ends up in a landfill. Keep this in mind while shopping and do your best to avoid any plastic while grocery shopping. 

4. Buy Fresh

Frozen foods are convenient and easy, but they’re not great for the environment and have a low waste household. 

Whenever possible, buy food fresh from the store or farmers market and freeze yourself in jars or in reusable baggies. 

In our house, we love eating food frozen from our garden to enjoy in winter. Plus, it makes us feel better knowing that we cut down on plastic waste. 

In season, support your local farmers and stock up on fresh foods that you can freeze and enjoy throughout the year. 

5. Buy Produce Without Plastic

Plastic produce bags are such a waste. Literally. 

Skip the plastic and buy produce loose or use a reusable produce bag. 

Your fruits and veggies don’t need to be “protected” by plastic. They grow in soil with bugs, shipped, and handled by many hands before you bag them. 

The bags really just make it convenient to shop and have the cashier handle. Reusable bags do this task just fine. 

Just be sure to wash your produce at home before you cook or eat them. 

Low Waste Food Containers

Here are some good options for low waste food containers. Keep in mind, there is no need to rush out and get all of these, but find a few that work for you. 

  • Glass Jars

Glass can last for years and years and years. They are versatile and come in all sizes and shapes. They can be used for dry food storage, freezing and storing liquids, for keeping leftovers and holding to-go lunches. 

You can usually find them easily at second-hand stores, flea markets, or online. 

  • Pyrex

Pyrex is a great alternative to plastic food storage and is freezeproof and oven-proof which makes it versatile and functional. I find mine at a low cost at local hardware stores, dime stores, and second-hand stores, but you can buy new inexpensively. 

Some Pyrex dishware comes with plastic lids, but most often you can buy without the lids and use silicone instead. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate). 

  • Stainless Steel Reusable Containers

When I was young we had lots of these containers while in Scouts and to go camping. They are easy to clean and care for and never go out of style. 

You can find some with silicone rings to ensure that they are leak proof. If not, they are a great way to transport dry foods, sandwiches, and anything that isn’t liquid.

You can find in second-hand shops are click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

  • Reusable Silicone Baggies

These reusable bags are designed to replace single-use plastic zip-lock bags and are used in a similar way. I love mine and use them all the time. 

Some silicone food storage pouches can be reused and are dishwasher, freezer, boil, and microwave safe.

If you use a lot of ziplock bags, using reusable silicone bags are a great waste-free alternative. 

Silicone isn’t completely zero waste but a great low waste alternative to plastic. Using silicone can be a good option as long as you maintain it to ensure it has a long lifespan, and do your best to recycle it once you can no longer use it.

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Putting Together A Zero-Waste Shopping Kit – 8 Must-Haves

Here is everything you need to begin your journey towards having a zero-waste home and to be a conscious shopper:

1. Totes and Shopping Bags

As more places are banning plastic bags, more and more reusable totes and shopping bags are available. Which is great, but always look for good quality that will last for years to cut down on cheap ones that will fall apart and still contribute to waste. 

Find bags that are made with natural fiber. My favorites are multi-functional bags that have bottle sleeves to help keep jars in place during transport. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

2. Cloth Bags

You can make some of your own if you know how to sew. You can use old sheets or fabrics. I don’t know how to sew so I buy some eco-friendly ones. You can use these to buy unpackaged dry foods from bulk bins, candy, and baked goods. 

Just be sure to have the bag weighed at the customer service desk and have the tare weight permanently marked on the bag so when you weigh you can subtract the weight of the bag. 

The tare weight is the weight of an empty container, usually in pounds. The cashier can then deduct it from the total weight of the item purchased at checkout. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

3. Reusable Produce Bags

You can use cloth bags for produce, but I like how I can see through mesh bags and let my fruits and veggies breathe. They are ideal for buying smaller produce and leafy greens. 

These can be used for fresh produce and the see through function helps you find what you need in your refrigerator produce drawer. 

I love my produce bags and we use them all the time while at the grocery store and the farmers market. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

4. Glass Jars

Having one or two sizes of glass jars are a great way to buy fish, cheese, and meat. Just have the staff place the items straight into the jar. Make sure they deduct the tare from the total price and write the price on the lid with a washable crayon. 

I weigh the jars once and permanently mark it so I don’t need to weigh every time I use it. 

When the glass jars are empty, wash and put away into your grocery tote to use the following week. 

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5. Glass Bottles

Empty glass bottles are a great way to buy any liquids from bulk. I use mine to fill with local kombucha and dressings. 

If you have access to refilling liquids, make sure you use reusable glass bottles that you can use, wash and reuse again. 

Again, you will weigh for the tare to be deducted from the total cost. 

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6. Washable Crayon

You can permanently mark your items with the tare weight or use a washable crayon to write the weight on the jar or container. 

Also, a washable crayon is important to write the bulk item number directly on your bag or jar. This will eliminate the waste of disposable labels. 

You can use a washable crayon or take a picture of the item number with your phone to show the cashier. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

LYRA Aquacolor Water-Soluble Wax Crayons (3)

7. Bread Bag

I love buying bread straight from the bakery. Use an old pillowcase to make your own or if you don’t sew, find a natural fiber bread bag. 

A bread bag will help keep your bread fresh and cut down on waste of paper bread bags. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate).

8. Container For Meat

You can use jars for meat but if you are buying a whole chicken or larger amounts of meat, a stainless steel container is a great way to transport meat. 

We buy most of our meat from a local butcher and we just have him use our container instead of using paper or plastic. Use, wash, and repeat. 

Again, be sure to weigh the tare so it can be deducted from the price. 

Click below to find on Amazon (affiliate). 

Conclusion For Plastic Free Grocery Shopping 

I know living a low waste life can seem daunting. Especially when it comes to grocery shopping. But it doesn’t have to be. Just be sure to build your zero waste shopping kit and you will have success.

If you are looking for other ways to reduce waste, go to my ultimate list of eco product must-haves. 

Living a Plastic-Free Life Starts With A Choice To Produce Less Waste – Grocery Shopping Is A Good Place To Start

What do you do for low waste grocery shopping? What are your go-to tools in your zero-waste toolkit? Share in the comments so we can get ideas from each other. 

The Best Tips For Waste Free Grocery Shopping