11 tips for a zero-waste shopping routine
1. Write a shopping list on your phone
Save paper by writing a list in your 'notes' section and choose bullet points that allow you to tick things off as you go. You can then copy and reuse the list so you don't have to rewrite it every time. By writing a list, you're also less likely to over-buy, saving you money and reducing your food waste.
2. Take reusable bags with you.
Don't rely on supermarket plastic bags for convenience. Nowadays, most supermarket plastic bags are the 'Bags For Life' variety made of thicker plastic than the single-use counterpart. When only used once, it rather defeats the object! So, if you have any at home, make sure you use them. Otherwise, a canvas shopper or string bag is a chic, longer-lasting, plastic-free option. We love the UK made Mama's Essentials Bag by Alphabet Bags.
3. Choose loose fruit and veggies
Use your consumer spending power to send a powerful message to supermarkets by selecting loose fruits and veggies not encased in plastic. We've never understood why bananas and citrus fruits come wrapped in plastic when they have natural skins!
4. Use reusable produce bags
Instead of then putting your loose fruit and veg in disposable plastic or paper bags, carry them in reusable produce bags like these from John Lewis. They look much prettier in your basket/trolley and save unnecessary waste.
5. Use jars and storage containers
Some stores allow you to fill your containers with dry goods such as pulses, grains, nuts, flours or deli products. You will usually need to weigh the container before filling it with food and weighing again. This prevents you from paying for the weight of the container.
6. Bring a cloth bag or clean pillowcase for bakery bread
Bakery bread is much fresher and tastier than your regular packaged varieties anyway! We love this reusable bread bag from Bower Collective
7. Avoid products with excess packaging
Almost half of all supermarket packaging cannot be easily recycled, according to a UK study. Avoid buying products that come packaged in a large amount of plastic or cardboard. And always check on the back of the packet to see whether it can be recycled. If it can't, consider whether there's a more eco-friendly alternative.
8. Avoid individually packed items
Some of the worst offending supermarket products are individually portioned, such as yoghurt pots or tubes, mini cheeses, crisps and other confectionary snacks. Buying these items in the larger 'family-size' not only saves plastic waste but can also save you a lot of money. You can portion them out using reusable food bags, storage containers or bowls at home.
9. Keep reusable carry bags handy
Sustainability needs to be sustainable for busy lives, so make it as easy as possible for yourself. Making a habit of storing reusable carry bags in your car or in your bag means you're less likely to forget them and be tempted to buy a plastic bag at checkout.
10. Shop at zero-waste stores
Support small businesses and support the zero-waste economy by shopping at sustainable stores. Our favourite London-based zero-waste shops in London are The Source and Zéro. A quick internet search will find the ones in your local area.
11. Shop small, shop local
Buy fresh, seasonal produce at your local market. By sourcing food locally, it will have travelled less distance or "food miles" to get to your kitchen, saving fuel emissions. Market produce is also less likely to be covered in plastic, more likely to be tastier and better quality, AND you'll be supporting local businesses and farmers.