Eating Zero-Waste

Bulk bins in grocery store
Courtesy of http://www.spacesimages.com

Eating is important. It is also tremendously wasteful. Just walk into any grocery store and look around at the aisles of plastic and steel. And not only is all the food heavily packaged, it took even more packaging to get it onto the shelves and everything that isn’t eaten in time will simply be thrown out. It’s sickening.

Thus, keeping one’s self fed without creating waste is a daunting task. There are answers to the problems, though.

  • Buy reusable produce bags. Quit using those flimsy ones at grocery stores, and save the planet. Also, reusable produce bags can look quite nice.
  • Buy foods with less packaging. Frozen food is awful for packaging, so staying way from those reduces waste. Choose larger containers, since they create less waste overall for the food involved.
  • Buy in bulk. This sounds easy, but is harder than it might sound. First, you have to have containers to store goods in, since going to the bulk store and using their plastic bags isn’t much better than buying anywhere else. Also, bulk stores don’t carry everything. There are some common foods that you’ll have to make from scratch or go without, if you want to completely avoid the packaging. Finally, even buying in bulk isn’t entirely without waste. Bulk Barn and other stores like it need to ship the items they sell, and the bins and such are often lined with plastic. But I believe it’s a step in the right direction.
  • Buy local. If you have a farmer’s market near you, check it out. Who knows what you might find. I don’t have one near me, unfortunately, but I’m keeping my eye open.
  • Don’t buy! I’m fortunate enough to have a bread machine, so I make all my bread at home, nearly waste free. I do have to buy ingredients, like flour and such, but those come in much larger containers and last a lot longer. Also, many of the common ingredients can be bought in bulk, further reducing waste. Eventually I’ll try making dough for other baked goods, but for now bread is enough.

You do have to eat, though. Don’t sweat it if you can’t make your weekly shopping routine waste-free. Just make informed choices. It’s all about balance. You’re (paradoxically) probably going to pay a bit more to have less waste, but it’s worth it.

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