Beginner's guide to zero waste grocery shopping

Beginner's guide to zero waste grocery shopping

In an era where sustainability has become a global priority, we are increasingly becoming aware of the significant role our everyday habits play in impacting the environment.

From the clothes we wear to the way we buy food, every aspect of our lifestyle has an environmental footprint.

Did you know that a lot of the plastic waste we see around us comes from the packaging of the things we buy? In fact, it's nearly half of it.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to reduce waste as much as possible while grocery shopping.

It might sound a bit challenging initially, but with a little preparation and mindfulness, zero waste shopping is possible! Let’s dive into 4 steps to zero waste grocery shopping.

Step 1: Prep your shopping trips

The first and one of the most crucial steps in zero waste grocery shopping is planning.

Meal planning can significantly reduce food waste. By having a clear idea of what meals you will be preparing for the week, you can ensure you're only buying what you need. Stick to your list to avoid impulse purchases that often come in plastic packaging.

Before heading to the store, it's beneficial to take an inventory of your kitchen. This will help you understand what items you have and what's running out. Having this information at hand helps to avoid purchasing unnecessary items.

Additionally, try to designate a specific day for grocery shopping. This can further reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing multiple car rides.

Step 2: Choose where to shop

The location where you buy your groceries can significantly impact your zero waste journey.

While we may be used to traditional supermarkets, a zero waste grocery store can be a game-changer. These stores provide the same products you would normally buy but without the individual packaging.

But what if there is no zero waste grocery store in your neighbourhood?

Many conventional supermarkets also have a bulk section. Here, you can purchase loose items, and the price per pound of bulk goods often tends to be cheaper than their packaged alternatives.

zero waste grocery store

Step 3: Carry reusable shopping bags and containers

One of the core elements of zero waste shopping is the use of reusable bags. 

This could be anything from those glass jars that have been sitting in your kitchen cabinets to the reusable shopping bags that often get forgotten at home.

Here's what you can include in your zero waste shopping gear:

Cloth Shopping Bags: These are great for carrying your shopping. Make sure you can wash them so that they last a long time.

Reusable Bulk Food Bags: These are especially great for dry goods. Also, having bags of different sizes ensures that you have the right bag for every product.

Net or Mesh Bags: These bags are your go-to for fruits and vegetables.

Beeswax Wrapping: This is a good replacement for plastic wrap. It's made from cloth and beeswax. You can use it to wrap cheese, meat, bread, and more.

zero waste grocery shopping

Step 4: Avoid pre-packaged foood

The key to zero waste grocery shopping is to avoid pre-packaged food at all costs. However, we recognize that this isn't always possible.

In such instances, prioritize products with eco-friendly packaging. Cardboard, paper, aluminum, or glass are materials that are easier to recycle compared to plastic packaging.

If finding such products is challenging, the next best step is to opt for goods that come in the largest container possible. 

Often, these provide better financial value and help reduce the overall packaging used and mean you need to restock less often.


Zero waste grocery shopping can be challenging, and it's completely normal to not get everything right the first time.

Just remember, every little bit helps. Some things, like tofu and sauces, may not come without packaging, and that's okay too.

Making the world a better place is a journey. Every little step we take in reducing waste makes a big difference.

Let's Chat!

Did you ever go to a zero waste grocery store before? Let me know in the comments below!

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