It can be frightening to think about the amount of waste a standard household produces and even scarier to think of how much of it results from your weekly supermarket trip. It may seem daunting to eliminate this pattern from our lifestyles although a little bit of effort goes a long way, and with these simple swaps you can easily start to reduce your waste to zero with your weekly shop.
Fresh from the farm
Without a doubt the ideal way to source waste free groceries is to shop from your local farmers market where you can not only guarantee the quality of the produce but buy everything sans-plastic. Most urban areas now offer weekly markets, we love these city guides to find the best local markets in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
And why not consider becoming a farmer yourself? Even if you live in an apartment small herbs can be grown in recycled tin cans on a window ledge, an economic way to always have a fresh supply. Or if you have a small garden bed, basic veggies like salad greens, tomatoes, snow peas and zucchinis are easy to grow even for novice green-thumbs.
Savvy supermarket shopping
We have all been in that situation where we have to grab a vegie or two from the supermarket to make up an evening meal, so whilst this may not be our ideal way to shop there are a few tricks to eco-friendly supermarket shopping. Some supermarkets are now offering ‘imperfect picks’ produce, where produce deemed below the supermarket’s aesthetic standards is sold at a reduced price.
At Harris Farm Markets look out for their ‘Imperfect Picks’ labelled fruit and veg.Whilst this is certainly an economic way to shop this is a massive support to farmers as this perfectly edible produce no longer has to be discarded as waste.
Carrying on from our last point, the main danger in shopping for produce at the supermarket is the temptation to take everything home in a plastic bag. It is easy to overcome this by bringing your own reusable packaging. Reusable mesh produce bags are an easy solution for your fruit and veg, whilst paper bags and jars can be recycled and used for bulk nuts and cereal products at scoop and weigh stations. For meat and deli products try to buy from a local deli or butcher so that you can ask them to put your foods into a reusable container rather than buying pre-packaged options. And don’t forget to bring a basket or reusable carry bags to bring everything home in.
Your pantry staples can be a real trap for waste, with most products coming in plastic lined and multi-layered packaging although we are loving that bulk stores that offer these essentials are becoming more and more accessible. Stores like The Source Bulk Foods sell grains, nuts, condiments and even things like soaps and detergents that you can scoop (or pour) yourself. The waste-free benefits of this are twofold, meaning you can buy only what you need but also scoop into a recycled jar or compostable paper bag leaving no trace of waste at all!