Zero waste

10 tips to become a zero waste shopper

What exactly is zero waste? It’s the philosophy of circular resource use and one where all products are reused or recycled so there is no trash sent to landfill. Waste is produced by most activities in our lives, even grocery shopping!

Nada is Canada’s first zero waste grocer. The business was born from the idea of taking simple, tangible steps to reduce food waste and plastic pollution (two problems in our current food system that have a significant impact on the health of oceans.) The concept at Nada is simple: customers refill their own containers with food, allowing them to decrease the amount of plastic packaging sent to landfill and potential food waste by only buying what they need.

If cleaning up the environment is something you’d like to help with, you can help to grow the zero waste movement in your own life and show others how easy it can be to accomplished.

Here are my top 10 tips for reducing your environmental footprint while grocery shopping:

  1. Choose sustainable transport whenever possible: walk, bike, take public transport, use a rideshare program, or carpool. Your heart and lungs will thank you, too!
  2. Consolidate your shopping trips and shop with a list; you’ll save money,  reduce your fuel consumption, and curb impulse buys.
  3. Always use reusable carry bags. Stash them in your backpack, purse, bike basket or trunk so that you always have them.
  4. Buy in bulk and only what you need. Keep in mind that very large bulk purchases typically get tossed before they can be eaten.
  5. Bring reusable cloth bags, containers, jars etc. to refill with bulk dry and liquid items. More and more businesses are willing to let you refill your own containers so look for and support them.
  6. Use large glass jars or containers to fill up on toiletries and household cleaning supplies such as shampoo, conditioner, vinegar, dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.
  7. Purchase dairy in glass jars whenever possible. Milk, ice cream, and yogurt containers with a deposit system are becoming more commonplace. A great example is Vancouver’s Earnest Ice Cream.
  8. Hold on to growlers and clean empty wine bottles to refill at local breweries, wineries, and make-your-own bottling events.
  9. Shop at farmers markets. There’s no better way to support your local food system than buying local and organically grown produce. Bonus points if you bring back the empty egg cartons and berry containers – many stands are happy to reuse these.
  10. Vote with your dollar! Support companies that are champions of social and environmental responsibility and those that are making the world a better place. Although this list is certainly not exhaustive, certifications such as B-Corp, Fair Trade and 1% for the Planet, etc. are a good place to start.

Live in Vancouver and want to learn more about zero waste living, the local food system, food waste, or plastic pollution? Join the conversation at Zero Waste Vancouver on Facebook.