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Tips on how to shop for zero waste

 
pollinator
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Location: Hilversum, Netherlands, urban, zone 7
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The Zero Waste Chef is a brilliant blog, go check her out.

She has a great post on practices to shop for zero waste: 'Good, Better, Best Zero-Waste Shopping'.

It varies from buying practices, storage, extending the season (fermentation! hurrah!) and generally being permie about it all. I would also add composting to zero waste lifestyle.

Tips from the post:



Best practices

Bulk Food

If you have access to bulk bins in a store that allows you to bring your own containers, then you can shop with:

Glass jars. Just make sure you get these tared—in other words, weighed—before you fill them with food. You don’t want to have to pay for the weight of the jar, especially if you buy tea that costs $40 per pound. Where I live, some stores set out scales and you weigh and mark the jar yourself with a sticker (or with a china marker on the glass). At other stores, customer service will weigh and mark the jars for you.

Metal containers. Get these tared also. My small LunchBots are a good size for bulk candy😉

Cloth produce bags. These work well for “chunkier” food, like bulk pasta, beans, rice, popcorn, oats and granola.


 
steward
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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That's a great blog, that's for the pointer!

I need to sew some bags for food, maybe that would help decrease my plastic use.  I already have a nice selection of canvas shopping bags, and I'm lucky that I can buy delicious milk in reuseable glass jars.
 
gardener
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I use old sheer curtains for all sorts of things for growing, and sewed a large selection of produce bags with yarn drawstrings. That way I have useful 'me size' bags that can be used again and again. As well as my assortment of jars and bottles for bulk.

Though these days I tend to buy a lot of my staples (cashews, nutritive yeast flakes, soybeans (non-GMO organic and gluten free), coconut oil, etc) direct ship bulk. I get a better price, I don't pay tax (this state still taxes food), it comes to my door, and I know who had their hand in it last. (I have seen kids wipe the bulk chutes with their hand and lick off the powder-many times), so I would rather buy prepackaged (back room) bulk or get it myself.

Sheer curtains, are very versatile. I use them for bloom/fruit bagging (I want to control a pollination or protect a young fruit while it sets from insects...this year I had to bag my tomatoes to get any, the grasshoppers ate them as fast as I got some). Lay two panels together and sew long strips, double seam, then cut apart and sew again, rows of double seams, to make individual pockets. Cut apart, turn the top and run a seam, then thread in a scrap of string or yarn. Wash them between uses and you will have a much better tote-it than the store produce bags. I attached a tag to each one and had them tared so that can be adjusted (when buying expensive per ounce stuff you want that bag tared out).
Bagettes.jpg
[Thumbnail for Bagettes.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Produce that is packed in the field like cabbage and celery ar packed in waxed cartons so that they can be cooled with water and ice. This paraffin soaked paper can not be recycled so the supermarkets send it to the land fill. I ask for these when I am shopping and cut them in pieces for fire starting. The paraffin soaked paper burns like a candle until it brings the wood up to kindling temperature.
 
steward
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...packed in waxed cartons...


Most of those waxed cartons are quite durable.
They make great storage bins, particularly for damp locations.

(I have also used them for tents over tender plants if it is expected to be frosty overnight.  They can withstand a fair amount of drizzle before they become useless.)
 
steward
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When I go to the grocery store, and buy fruits or vegetables, I typically don't put them in a bag. I hold them in my hands, or put them in a shopping basket without bagging.

It's rare for me to bag anything for customers at the farmer's market. If I just plop things un-bagged onto the table, that encourages people to bring their own bags. It certainly saves me the expense and labor of putting things in bags. Besides, non-bagged produce seems healthier to me. Less chance for microbes to grow if things are drier.
 
gardener
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Maybe it's because we live in a really hot and dry area, but if I don't put most veggies in bags, they will be rubbery, wilted or dried out in less than a day.  Right now I reuse plastic bags over and over, but that only lasts so long.

I like the idea up above about making your own bags, which are basically like little pillowcases. I'm going to try that, but I think I'll dip some in beeswax and see how those compare for vapor conservation.  You've all probably seen the waxed cloth storage covers now?  Here is a blog with a description of them: DIY Beeswax Wraps for an Alternative to Plastic Wrap

Seems like this should work for produce bags...but I'll tell you how it turns out!
 
pollinator
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I have a pretty good one.

Whenever I go to a grocery store, the produce comes in large, often sturdy cardboard boxes. There is positively nothing--unless you stop using grocery stores entirely--you can do to prevent this cardboard from being produced and shipped. Usually on a shelf in the produce section, there is a big-ass box with one head of lettuce, or one canteloupe left in it. I flip the melon on the shelf and put the box (or two) in the lower cradle of the grocery cart. I put my goods directly in the basket, then at checkout I refuse all bags.

I pack the crap out of those boxes, which are built to handle it, then straddle the front of the cart on the way to my truck, and load it in.   Unpacking is also alot easier and faster since I have no bags to deal with, everything in one shot. Then I burn the box in a burn barrel, but it could be composted if you have the free time and inclination.

I also secretly enjoy frustrating cashiers.

When I tell them no bags and I will pack it myself, their brain explodes and they hate me. Oh...and when they don't know what ginger looks like and they ring me up for a potato....I let them.
 
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