When my family and I first decided to tackle plastic pollution and waste reduction in our house, I knew there would be a lot of changes in the way we ate…or at least the way we were getting our food. If I were to look in a trashcan of an average Canadian, I am pretty confident that the majority of the contents would be food related! And this certainly was the case with my family.
The great news is, it’s really not that difficult to make a change in this area! It takes a little planning and a few habits must be broken, but soon it becomes second nature!
Allow me to run through my grocery routine (I can’t believe I just wrote that…). When I go to a chain location, I tend to shop the peripheries of the grocery store. You know, the produce aisles, the dairy section, and well, that’s pretty much it. I should mention that my family and I are ovo-lacto vegetarians, so if your family eats a different diet, you may need to make some amendments. All of my produce items are purchased without packaging. If I can’t find them plastic-free, then I don’t buy them. Instead of placing them in the provided plastic bags, I bring my own produce bags, which work wonders. My family does consume quite a bit of dairy at this point—something I hope to work on—and this does create plastic waste. This is something I have come to terms with. Life is all about balance, right?
For things like grains, spices, tea, coffee, nuts, and snack items, I head over to my local bulk store. There, I am able to bring my own mason jars. The staff will pre-weigh them, I can fill up my jars, and pay for the goods! I have tried this at several bulk places and have rarely run into an issue. Another alternative is to fill reusable produce bags if you aren’t buying fine things like pastry flour!
Finally, I head over to the bakery to get our bread, though I know many “zero wasters” make their own. Again, armed with my produce bags, most bakeries are more than happy to fulfill my request of using my own packaging.
I’m guessing by now, some readers are thinking, “She goes to three shops just to feed her family?”. I know it sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t—especially because you can often combine these chores. For example, many grocery stores now have a bulk section and a bakery! I find the shopping experience a lot less stressful and my family is eating very healthily! Little to no refined sugar, so many fresh fruits and veggies, and very little processed food! And like so many ecofriendly choices, it will save you money. Bulk items are generally cheaper and you only have to purchase the exact amount you need. All the stuff in the middle aisles of the grocery store can be pricey!
What kind of eco-friendly choices do you make when feeding your family?