Shop Smart- the Waste-Free way

Waste Free living can be so easy if we learn how to shop smart! Below, I’m sharing some of my top tips on how you can shop waste-free, without having to go to a million different stores to find what you need. Sound doable? Keep on reading!

Tip #1: Fresh Produce.

When shopping for fresh produce, avoid buying fruit or veg that is cut up and packaged in plastic bags. Not only is this a waste of packaging, that will be completely single-use, but the fruit/ veg is usually sprayed with chemicals and preservatives to ensure maximum shelf life- not good for you! Instead, purchase the items whole, and turn it into a chore for your kids to get some pocket money.

Additionally, opt to rather purchase fresh fruit and veg lose, using your own fresh produce bags like these ones. Most of the time, the prices are fairly similar, and you’re saving on tons of plastic. Items that must be bought in plastic, for example, cucumber, can be tricky. I always opt for the cucumber wrapped in the cling wrap type packaging, as opposed to the ones that are glued shut. This allows me to carefully take the cling wrap type plastic off the cucumber and use it to wrap sandwiches for lunch etc. If you can’t reduce, make sure you get items that come in packaging that can be reused. Another favorite of mine is reusing brown paper potato bags for bin liners for my car, or as a bag to collect my recycling.

Tip #2: Canned vs. Plastic

When purchasing items like sauces, pantry items, or pet food, canned products are a much more sustainable option than said items packaged in plastic. According to novelis.com, tin cans are infinitely recyclable, whereas only about 10% of plastic is recycled into something new. We always opt to get our beans, legumes, corn, and other such items in tin cans instead of the frozen veg section (that is, if we’re not buying fresh).

Tin cans are also totally reusable! Visit our Pinterest page to see some amazing crafts one can do with tin cans. Just a few to peak your interest are stationary holders, cacti pot plants, and beautiful candles that are a lovely Mothers Day gift, for example.

Tip #3: Recyclable Packaging

This one is pretty basic. If you must choose items in packaging, always check to see if the item has a recycling label on it. The label will usually have the triangle which says PET1 or PET7 etc…If it has no recycling label, no matter what it looks like, assume you cannot recycle it.

It does help to get familiar with which materials your nearest recycling center can recycle. Not everything that is recyclable is recycled by your town’s recycling center, and not everything that is recyclable is recycled in your country. So it’s good to check.

For general recycling guidelines, visit Recycle 1st– an incredible resource for all things recycling, or their Instagram page for countless recycling tips and tricks. We can’t recommend this business enough!

Tip #4: BYO

A great way to reduce waste is to bring your own containers, bags, and shoppers. When purchasing meat from the butcher at your local store, you can often take your own containers and have them put the meat directly in. This is super helpful since there is so much waste from meat packaging. Another idea is if you need to get a few muffins/ donuts or even a meal on the run (like a pie), have them put the items in your own container and save on all those excess bags and labels and packaging. Lastly, buying fresh bread is so rewarding when you bring your own bread bag.

There are so many items we need, and so many can be put in our own containers to save on packaging. I always recommend leaving a shopping bag in the trunk of your car, and in the shopping bag always keep fresh produce bags, bread bags, a few Tupperware, and some extra shopping bags in case it’s a big shopping trip.

Tip #5: Buy Bulk

When you buy smaller quantities of products, let’s use sugar, for example, the math adds up. Over the course of a month, you may purchase 3-5 bags of sugar for your household. That is a lot of plastic bags. If you rather chose to buy in bulk, you may only purchase one big bag over the course of the month. While this is obviously a bigger bag, it’s still only one bag as opposed to 3-5.

The same applies to do your monthly shopping as much in bulk as possible. Again, the math adds up. 3 grocery trips a week, that’s on average 12 grocery trips in the month. 12 times of driving to and from the shop, 12 trips filled with receipts and stickers from weighing your groceries and 12 opportunities for the excess waste. If you trimmed that down to 3-4 bulk shopping trips for the month, the math simply equals a lot fewer receipts, fuel, and opportunities to purchase items you may not use and may cause waste.

Tip #6: Chose team #NoPlastic

Another basic one, rather chose items, not in excessive plastic. Items such as eggs are sold in options with the plastic wrap around or just the card labels. Chose the ones without the plastic. Other items such as juice can be bought in glass bottles instead of plastic. Still, items such as bread rolls can be purchased from the bakery section in brown paper bags instead of the prepackaged plastic bags. This one is an easy one, it just takes being conscious of the options available to you.

Tip #7: Go without

This one is a tough one, I’m not going to lie. When choosing to pursue a more waste-free lifestyle, there are some things you will decide you simply can’t purchase anymore. Huge amounts of sweets and chips and chocolate are an example. Since these items all come in plastic that is not recyclable, for the most part, I don’t purchase these items anymore. There are many other things that I’ve just adjusted to doing without, and many things I try to make instead of buy because the packaging is too wasteful. This is a tough one, and you will need to work out what you find worth the cost of the waste, but definitely, some items just get scratched off the shopping list.

I hope you’ve found this helpful! If so, please leave a comment below, or get in touch with us via social media!

Instagram + Facebook: @hellowastefree

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