The first day of my zero waste challenge was marked by a need to go grocery shopping. It wasn’t my idea of an Earth Day activity, but hey, when there is no fruit in the house, the kids riot. I’m not just trying to be cute here.
I thought a bit about what I could do to bring my challenge to the grocery store. CSAs, Farmer’s Markets, and gardens aren’t producing at this time of the year in my area and so my destination was to two chain stores (Top’s and Price Chopper). I wish I had access to Wegmans or Whole Foods. I’m lucky to finally be living in a town with a grocery store, and this one has two!
The easiest thing to do was to bring my cloth bags for the check out and to scope out my future zero waste shopping prospects.
Cloth Bags at the Checkout
Neither store gave me any problems over the bags. In fact, Price Chopper credited me the number of bags I used. This made my costs slightly smaller. The cashiers see cloth bags regularly and don’t bat an eyelash or make it any harder on the customer. Some of my bags are a little floppy and so I help by holding them open for the cashier.
Cloth Bag Habit
Truthfully, this wasn’t a stretch for me. I’ve been using cloth bags at the check out for years. However, we’ve grown kind of lazy about it. Often forgetting them on the way out the door. Or not having them for impulse shopping (typically a quick in-and-out for coconut milk on the way home).
In an effort to make changes, I’ve curated our collection, folding the nice ones and hanging them by the door. I’ve put some of the older ones plus some plastic bags in our vehicle in case we’ve forgotten our supply or I have my husband pick something up on the way home from work. I’ve also added a re-usable bag to my purse.
Those Plastic Bags
Most of the plastic grocery bags we have are from forgetting to take the bags with us. We tend to re-use them as bin liners, kitty litter collectors, and for picking up litter at parks. However, I’m hoping that as the challenge progresses, we’ll have fewer trash bins around the house to line.
I was newly awakened to the amount of packaging that came with my food. Even the produce! Anyone know why organic produce seems to always be wrapped in plastic?
I will definitely need to address the packaging waste that go with shopping.
I also finally faced the little irony of toting around the cloth bags and then bagging most of my loose produce with those little plastic sacks. The helpful cashier even asked if she could bag the loose bananas together before putting them in my cloth bag. It certainly wouldn’t have seemed out of place!
How About You?
I imagine that many of you already cloth bag. How do you keep from letting laziness or forgetfulness from getting in the way? Please comment and let me know what your tricks are!