Eco friendly Grocery Shopping On a Budget

Eco friendly Grocery Shopping On a Budget

Do you want to reduce plastic waste when shopping for food being on a tight budget? While bulk bins and sustainable stores could be a better option, it is still possible to do Eco-friendly grocery shopping even at retail chains and local supermarkets.

In my neck of woods, there are no grocery stores that sell dry goods in bins. The idea of avoiding plastic packaging entices me but unfortunately, there are no such sustainable stores closer to where I live. There is one Whole Foods Market within 5 miles, but shopping there would definitely blow off my grocery budget. That being said, I do most of my grocery shopping at the local fresh market and bulk stores like Costco.

If you are like me looking for ways to reduce plastic waste while shopping at retail stores, please consider the following tips.

The best way to reduce plastic is to become aware of things we consume and choose environmentally friendly options that we can afford. For e.g: If you combine running errands with grocery shopping, then you are consuming less gas and creating less carbon print than tackling the tasks apart. There are many such simple ways by which you can become more eco-friendly and save money.

1. Carry Reusable Shopping Bags

This is a no-brainer. In case you do not have one, you can get it at the grocery store check out lines. Most of the grocery stores sell reusable bags for a dollar or two.

Some stores in a few cities charge 5-10 cents/plastic bag. Carrying your own reusable bag will save you a few bucks a month.

Do you know that a shopping bag is used for lesser than 20 mins? But it takes several hundred years for it to degrade. Sad that we are creating so much waste for our convenience. By simply carrying a reusable bag, we can make a huge impact on reducing plastic waste.

Many people argue that we can recycle shopping bags at the grocery store itself. There are limitations to that. Plastics cannot be recycled forever and more importantly, we do not know if the bags that we dump in the recycle bins are actually recycled or not.

Many find it hard to remember to carry their bags. But there are simple tricks to solve it

  • Have more than one shopping bag and keep them in your car trunk and in your purse. It is always good to have reusable bags in your car. They come handy when running errands.
  • After you are done unloading the bags, remember to put them back in the car.

Initially, you may forget one or two times, but with practice, you will remember to take the shopping bags without fail.

2. Switch to Eco-Friendly Produce Bags

Wondering what a produce bag is? It is the thin plastic bag that you pull from the grocery section to bag the produce before placing in the cart. I have seen many people in my local market carrying reusable shopping bags. However, I do see them using tons of plastic produce bags.

Is there any alternative for these plastic produce bags?

Yes, there are reusable produce bags which are very durable and convenient to use. Many of us don’t know about the reusable produce bags. In fact, I didn’t know about it until I came across Instagram pictures of “zero-waste” bloggers.

If you love to sew, you can find lots of article on the Internet teaching you to stitch your own produce bags. Or you can buy them. I bought mine from Amazon for $5.

I did spend $10 for 20 produce bags but I have been using them for more than a year. The best part is they are machine washable. I even put them in the dryer and they came out just fine.

3. Choose Imperfect Produce

Many stores sell imperfect produce or overripe fruits or stand-alone bananas (that are not in a bunch) at a cheaper price. Imperfect produce has weird not so appealing shape. However, they do not lack in taste or nutrients.

Overripe bananas with brown spots are loaded with potassium. When picking up bananas, always choose the lone ones because those loner ones end up in the landfill much earlier than the rest.

Eco-friendly ways to grocery shop on a budget.

4. Avoid Produce in Mesh Bags

When there is an option to choose between produce wrapped in mesh bags and loose produce, avoid the ones in mesh bags. For e.g., Onion and garlic are sold loose and in mesh plastic bags. Buying them loose in reusable produce bag will be an eco-friendly option.

Buying loose produce instead of pre-bagged ones, give us the option to buy the quantity that we need for our family and helps reduce wastage.

5. Opt For Bigger Size

If you love a particular brand of cheese that is not sold in loose, then buy the largest size possible. A 4 lb bag of cheese will cost lesser than two 2 lb bags. You can save money and still bring home one plastic bag instead of two.

This option comes with a caveat. Make sure that you will be able to finish off the product before its expiration date. Else, there is no point in wasting money in throwing away the half-used product.

6. Go Digital

Almost all stores these days accept digital coupons. Check your local fresh market to see if they have an app. Using their app could fetch you reward dollars!

Refuse print receipts. Ask the cashier to email you the receipt. On a side note, print receipts are laden with BPA!

7. Paper, Glass, Aluminum then Plastic

Glass and Aluminum containers can be recycled forever. Paper products cannot be recycled indefinitely. However, paper waste takes only a few weeks to decompose. When choosing a product at your supermarket, check to see if there is an alternative to plastic packaging.

For E.g. If vinegar or ketchup in a glass container is on sale and costs the same price as its plastic counterpart, then buy the product in the glass container and avoid plastic packaging.

While it is always good to buy ethically sourced products from sustainable stores, not all of us have the proximity or financial ability to shop at such places. Instead, we could become aware of the plastic waste that we generate and choose an eco-friendly alternative that we can accommodate within our budget.

Eco-friendly ways to grocery shop on budget. Carry reusable bags, use eco-friendly produce bags, choose imperfect produce, refuse mesh bags, opt of bigger size, go digital, Remember the order - paper, glass, aluminium and then plastic.

As the saying goes – Little drops of water make a mighty ocean, If each one of us stops using plastic bags and switch to the sustainable alternative we could save tons of plastic from getting dumped in the ocean.

Do you have any other tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping at regular retail chains? Please share it with us in the comment section below. I would love to try sustainable options that don’t cost an arm and a leg 🙂

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