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One amazing way to start living a more Earth-friendly lifestyle is to try using less plastic. Plastic is made by burning fossil fuels and it never fully breaks down. It ends up choking wildlife in the ocean and on land or clogging landfills. So how can you use less plastic? We have to shop for groceries, but we don't have to create more plastic waste. Keep reading for simple tips that will help you use less plastic while grocery shopping.
Reusable grocery bags
You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy organic cotton tote bag for this. Most people already have some kind of reusable grocery bag at home. However if you don’t, you can often buy them at most grocery stores, or even make your own. Here’s a sewing pattern if you want to get crafty.
Reusable produce bags
Did you know that you can also buy reusable produce bags? When I first started trying to live a low-waste lifestyle I felt so weird about bringing my reusable grocery bags to the store, only to fill them up with produce wrapped in plastic. There are many kinds of reusable produce bags that you can buy online these days. Some are made of hemp or cotton and some are made of polyester. Polyester is actually a kind of fabric that is made from plastic, so if you can, try to choose something hemp or cotton. You can also make your own produce bags.
Reusable silicone freezer bags
If you prefer buying frozen fruit, you will know that it comes wrapped in plastic. To avoid this, try buying fresh fruits (and putting them in a reusable produce bag). When you get home, seal the fruit in a reusable silicone freezer bag. These freezer bags are amazing because they can also be used on the stove to heat things up and they are microwave and dishwasher safe. You can even use them as snack bags instead of Ziploc bags for taking food on-the-go to work and school.
Choose ‘naked’ produce (as opposed to packaged produce)
When you’re in the fresh produce section, you can find a variety of fruits and veggies that are ‘naked’ and a variety that are packaged in plastic. To minimize the plastic in your life, choose the ‘naked’ produce (and put it in a reusable produce bag).
Choose paper bags over plastic bags
If you ever forget your reusable produce bags, you can sometimes find paper bags to use at the grocery store. Many grocery stores keep a selection of small paper bags located near sections of bulk coffee or in the produce section next to the mushrooms. Also, if you’ve forgotten all your reusable grocery bags, some grocery stores will offer you the choice of a paper bag or a plastic bag, in which case it’s better to go for the paper bag. In most grocery stores, if you’ve forgotten your reusable bags, you can even ask to use some cardboard boxes to bring your items home. Grocery stores often have an excess of cardboard boxes at their disposal from when they receive shipments of food.
Choose glass jars over plastic jugs and containers
Another way to minimize the plastic you purchase is to choose glass jars over plastic jars. For example, when buying nut butters or salsas try to pick ones that are in glass jars. That way you can easily reuse the glass jars afterwards. Plus, glass is endlessly recyclable whereas plastic can only be recycled a few times before it becomes useless and starts to break down in the environment.
Using glass jars at bulk shops
If you have a bulk shop like Bulk Barn in your city, you can also bring in your own clean glass jars and fill up with necessities there as well. Weigh the clean jar when you enter the store so the staff can tare the weight off after you’ve filled it, and then fill up on all the foods you need.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you cut back on the plastic you tend to purchase at the grocery store. These are things that I have been doing for a few years now and I’ve been amazed at how easy the transition was. One final tip: always keep some reusable grocery bags and jars in your car or purse for last-minute shopping.
P.S. Ever consider your laundry?
Did you know that annually more than 750 million plastic laundry jugs end up in our landfills? Tru Earth has the solution.