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7 Low-Waste Grocery Shopping Tips That Help Better the Environment

These low-waste grocery shopping tips will help you save money *and* the planet. Here's what to remember for your next trip.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen
Published

We all want to make more sustainable choices in our everyday lives. But that's not always the easiest thing to do when your local grocery store is riddled with single-use packaging and plastic produce bags. Even the fruit and veggies are packaged in disposable plastic netting.

As nice as it would be to have zero-waste grocery stores accessible everywhere, that just isn't the case. However, that doesn't mean we can't still try to make more eco-conscious decisions about how we shop. There are so many simple and easy ways to make your weekly rounds at the grocery store less wasteful.

If you're stuck on how to make grocery shopping more sustainable, we've got your back. Here are some shopping tips that make your trip more low-waste.

7 Low-Waste Grocery Shopping Tips

1. Bring the Reusables

Ditch the plastic produce bags and bring your own reusable options instead. You can also bring reusable tote bags to pack your food in so you can avoid using plastic bags.

By making these small changes, you'll prevent a lot of plastic waste from sitting in a landfill. Plus, let's be honest—reusable bags are way more fun, too!

2. Avoid Plastic Whenever You Can

When you find a food item that's packaged in plastic, there's probably another version of the same thing that's packaged in cardboard or glass. Instead of buying olive oil in a plastic bottle, grab one in a glass bottle.

Similarly, instead of buying that bag of mixed greens, go for the unpackaged version and put it in your reusable produce bag. It may take a little more work to prepare, but it'll be lower waste than buying a bag you'll just end up tossing out.

3. Skip the Bags Altogether

No reusable bag? No problem. If your haul is light, skip the bagging portion of the checkout line and just bring all your products into the car yourself.

Some grocery stores, like Aldi, have old cardboard boxes on hand, allowing you to carry your groceries to your car with ease—no plastic bags needed. You can also keep a large storage bin or laundry basket in the trunk of your car for transporting your goods into the house.

4. Buy in Bulk

Buying food in bulk helps both the environment and your wallet. Not only is it more affordable than buying the same item prepackaged, but you can also portion it so you're only buying the amount you need. That way, you'll end up with less food waste.

Many supermarkets have sprawling selections of bulk nuts, spices, dried fruits, and candies, giving you plastic-free alternatives to your favorite snacks. Bring your reusable bags or Mason jars and fill them to your heart's delight.

5. Recycle

Sometimes we forget our reusable bags. It happens. When you do wind up with plastic bags, you can't typically just toss them into your curbside recycling bin. Luckily, there are still ways to recycle them.

Many popular grocery store chains now have options for recycling the bags you took home. Check with your local store to see if there's a bin dedicated to recycling grocery bags. Many are right in the entrance of the store, allowing you to dispose of them responsibly.

6. Buy Local

Plenty of supermarkets carry locally-grown food and produce. You can also shop at farmers' markets whenever possible.

Local foods have a drastically smaller carbon footprint than foods shipped from other states or countries. Buying local could also mean your food is a lot fresher than its shipped counterparts because it takes less time to get it from farm to store.

7. Shop When You Aren't Hungry

This shopping tip may seem strange, but we swear it makes sense! When you're shopping on a full stomach, you're less likely to impulse buy tons of food and snacks you may not end up finishing. This will ultimately prevent you from overbuying and having to toss out food that spoils or is past its expiration date.

Love these grocery shopping tips? Next, learn how to avoid impulse buying: