Shopping Tips for Less Waste

By Courtney Erin Heath in Thinking Sustainably

I could never be a checkout girl at the grocery store. While I do think it would be fun to scan the items and chat with new people, I can not handle the plastic bags used and know there are better ways to create less waste. Green grocery shopping can become the norm for all!

I know the retail workers are totally rolling their eyes at me because I am very picky (but really I should say EASY) when it comes to packing up my bags. First, I almost always bring my own, but I do forget when I run to the store unexpectedly. I make them fill the bag to the top – and make sure they aren’t double bagging! Ugh I hate that! My meats do not go in a separate bag, though I do understand why people want that. When I lay out my groceries on the conveyor belt I even put them in packing order. Heavy on bottom, so first in line. I then eye the worker as they scan each item and may yell out ‘don’t bag that!’ because it is bulky and I can carry it. Maybe I am a bit of a pain.

Reusable Shopping Bag

Besides bringing your own reusable bags, here are a few more tips I use when I grocery shop.

Check out the packaging. I look for Tetra Paks or any recyclable container instead of BPA-lined cans. They flatten out and fit in recycle bin better too. Many times if it has excess plastic (sorry Trader Joes I love you, but don’t wrap your veggies!) I won’t buy it.


Produce. Do you use the thin plastic bags in the tear off rolls kept next to the fruits and veggies? Don’t! I don’t bag them at all or bring my own. These reusable produce bags are made from scrap t-shirts. Also steer clear of the pre-cut section and all those plastic containers – you can cut your own!

Water. Stay away from individual water bottles. Buy a reusable bottle and have a good filter to use at home. Or use the heavy duty water machines at the store with their large reusable containers.

No Receipt. Paper adds up and stores like Whole Foods you can choose to not have one printed. Email options are nice!

Buy Bulk

Bulk. I am so into bulk! Flours, sugars spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, granola, quinoa, rice, honey, dried fruits, chocolate chips. Reuse your containers by bringing them to the store to fill up again. It saves money too!

I also ‘think bulk’ in other sections by buying larger. My Suja juices are delish and just for me, but more eco-friendly when I buy the larger size at Costco.

Do you need a bag? Just a few items? Carry it!

How do you contribute to Less Waste when you grocery shop?

So happy Tom’s of Maine is always thinking about Being Green with their packaging.

Why It’s Good

A lot of waste can be avoided by using these green tips. Many times people don't even think about how much they are using and how easy it is to change when shopping.