Zero-Waste Grocery Shopping Tips


Sure, you already bring your reusable shopping bags with you every time you head into Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

But if you’re trying to further reduce or eliminate your reliance on single-use plastics, there are other, easy-to-incorporate steps you can take to ensure your shopping trips have an even smaller environmental footprint. For inspiration, here are a few of our favorites.

1. Shop in Bulk

One of the best ways to lower the amount of waste your shopping trips produce? Shop in bulk — and bring your own containers while you’re at it. Head to Simply Bulk Longmont with your mason jars, reusable bags, old laundry detergent containers and anything else you’ve got around the house.

When you arrive, head to the handy scale to weigh your empty containers, write down the weight and then start filling up on grains, spices, snacks, soaps, coffee, olive oil, kombucha and tons of other household staples. Weigh your containers again, bring everything up to the checkout counter and you’re all set. This store is a true gem on Main Street in Longmont and the team behind the counter is more than happy to help you out, explain the process or just chat about zero-waste shopping. The store’s mantra is: Pay for the product, not for the package.

2. Get Your Groceries Delivered By Bike

If you haven’t heard of Nude Foods Market yet, go ahead and give it a try. This innovative new zero-waste grocery delivery store launched last October and already serves more than 250 households in Boulder. Nude Foods uses reusable mason jars and other containers for tons of household products, groceries, prepared meals and “rescued” foods like day-old bagels or ugly produce. On top of all that, they deliver all orders by bike (unless you opt to pick up your order at their location), which means you’re further reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of your shopping.

3. Skip the Produce Bags (or Buy Reusable Ones)

If you’re still putting your produce — apples, oranges, bananas, etc. — into individual plastic bags at the store, consider changing your behavior. Simply toss these items into your cart or basket, or invest in some reusable mesh produce bags. These produce items are hardy and don’t need you to protect them on the journey from the store to your house; plus, you’ll want to wash them thoroughly when you arrive home anyway. Ditch the bags, help do your part.

4. Shop the Farmers Market

When you buy directly from producers, you’re skipping the entire packaging chain that food typically goes through. The Boulder County Farmers Markets work with so many incredible vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and more. Bring your reusable shopping bags, your reusable produce bags, your refillable kombucha growler and even your empty egg cartons. The Boulder and Longmont Saturday markets are kicking off in-person shopping again on April 3.

Photo by Ashton Ray Hansen/Boulder County Farmers Markets

5. Repurpose Containers

It’s one thing to toss that empty plastic yogurt container into the recycling bin — but someone still has to drive to your house, pick it up, drive it to a sorting facility, sort it, send it off, melt it down and repurpose it into something else. And don’t get us wrong, recycling is absolutely important and you should recycle anything and everything you can. But it’s even better if you can simply reuse the container yourself. When you really stop and think about it, there’s a secondary household use for just about everything — shallow cardboard boxes become pantry organizers, lunchmeat containers become your new Tupperware, an old coffee canister holds loose screws and nails in the garage. This practice also really makes you stop and think about all the single-use plastics and other materials you bring into your home on a daily basis and might make you think twice the next time you go shopping.

What are your go-to tips and tricks for zero-waste shopping? We’d love to hear from you!

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