Eating - something we have to do everyday, multiple times a day. It's an area we cannot sacrifice and an area where we all naturally produce the most waste.
But there are several ways to avoid waste this waste (and especially plastic) while grocery shopping, so here are the best tools to do so.
There are many different types of produce bags from organic cotton bags to collapsible compact bags. You can use these to avoid the thin single-use plastic bags in the produce section or in the bulk section, if you are lucky enough to. have one. They are very light weight so you never have to worry if the cashier will be able to tare your container or not.
Reusable Grocery Bags
These are essential no matter where you shop. There are also several kinds of reusable bags, but my personal favorite are my collapsible Chico bags. They collapse into such a small bag that they can be kept in your purse, in your car, or even on your key chain. However, any reusable bag will do the trick. I personally have seen them being handed out as freebies a ton and I know most grocery stores sell them for as little as $1. If you're ready for level 100 of zero waste, you can purchase a recycled organic cotton canvas tote here.
Stainless Steel Tiffins
These are most helpful for those out there who still consume meat or dairy. This is not me endorsing or encouraging anyone to consume these items. Meat and dairy is not only cruel, but it is also very resource intensive (AKA, not very eco-friendly or zero waste).
But, for those out there who need them, these can be used at the butcher counter to avoid plastic wrap ect. By asking the individual at the deli counter to put your purchase directly into your tiffin you can avoid any plastic or even paper.
Get a stainless steel tiffin here.
For those lucky enough to have package free shops
I totally understand that there are tons of people who wish they had access to shops with package free dry goods and produce, however, so many of us are not that lucky. So if you only have access to typical grocery shops without bulk, the top two items are the only ones that will truly help you. The remainder of this list will be items that will help others who have access to bulk bins.
These are super handy for bulk shopping, specifically if you are buying any powders, spices, or backing essentials. I use produce bags for most bulk items and then store them in glass jars so they serve a double purpose. It's just easier that way.
I purchased most of my jar second hand, but if you'd like to pick some up you can purchase them here.
If you have bulk, but they won't tare your items.
I've been there... You find a bulk section at your local health food store and go in with your jars to stock up on all your bulk finds, walk up to the counter, and the checker either looks confused, or calls over the manager... It is always a good idea to check with your store to be sure they will subtract the weight of your jars from your purchase (this is called taring). I've heard horror stories of store employees forcing the buyer to throw away their purchases because they cannot subtract the weight of the item. So don't find yourself in that scenario.
My solution - Find some produce bags that are light enough that you do not need to worry about the tare weight. This is what I do 95% of the time. I use my collapsible produce bags that weigh practically nothing. They weigh no more than the typically plastic bags provided.
Second, reuse the plastic ones provided. I've been doing this ever since my zero waste store, in.gredients, closed in Austin. I use my produce bags for anything that will not fall through the holes (pasta, rice, nuts, ect) but when I need to pick up something with finer particles (spiced, citric acid, salt, ect) I use the plastic bags that are provided at the bulk bins and bring them back to refill when I need to. This way the cashier does not have to tare any items and no one will tell me I'm not allowed to use my own containers. It has been 100% fool proof so far.