Not everyone has access to wholefoods and bulk shops, and for those that do, it usually involves some time and travel. So how can you minimise waste with limited options? Here's an example of my low waste supermarket shopping. It's not perfect, and not zero waste, but not too bad overall.
Firstly, I totally forgot my reusable produce bags, which really annoyed me as I wanted loads of carrots for juicing. I did however remember my shopping bags 😃
Tip: Store your bags in the boot and one in
your handbag so you don't get caught out!
What I bought & Why
Fruit & Vegetables - This should be easier than it really is, everything is bagged or wrapped in plastic, in punnets or even on foam trays😖 Luckily, today I could get all of mine plastic free (I'm ignoring the stickers in case you spotted them) The grapes, I removed from the prepacked bags. These are typically sold by weight, and there is no need to take an entire bag, or the bag at all! Just pick a bunch that seems like it will stay together. I bought ginger to make my own ginger tea, so also saving on plastic teabags and wrapping.
Almond Ice cream -Recyclable container (not really reusable as its cardboardy), Aussie made and this company does give back to communities and makes efforts to have an ethical supply chain.
Pack of Frozen Spinach - Recyclable box, good frozen veg option, but not local and if I was more organised, I would buy it fresh and freeze myself.
Smoked Salmon - a luxury item and on sale, not really recyclable as the smell can't be washed out of the plastic and it comes on a board with shiny gold foil stuff.
2 Boxes of Soap - also on sale, I sneakily opened the box the check the internal packaging which is paper (yay!). Boxes will be reused for kids craft and the paper recycled.
Tub of Butter - Recyclable and reusable, I need butter, but I am collecting too many of these containers. Aussie made too.
Wrapped butter - Not recyclable , wrapper can be reused (which I probably won't get around to doing), also Aussie made.
Cheese - The plastic is recyclable and a better option than individually wrapped slices, plus it was under $6, bargain. Aussie made and owned with a focus on sustainable farming and an Environmental Management System (EMS). Note, an EMS doesn't necessarily guarantee good environmental practices, I was an environmental auditor for a number of years and can talk for hours about the pros and cons, but I wont today!
Oxfam Chocolate (x2) - Recyclable box, fair trade, single origin cocoa.The foil will be used for craft, and eventually recycled. Better option to individually wrapped or plastic wrapped chocolate. Bit on the pricey side, but I saved on a couple of other items and I like supporting this brand.
Soy Milk - Recyclable, and a must as I'm dairy intolerant and like milk with some things, even if it is fake. I am not prepared to give it up and I'm accustomed to cooking with this brand, so I'm reluctant to swap it. I would live to make my own, but honestly haven't had time to try this and the powdered stuff is really awful. Aussie brand again.
More Ice Cream - Coconut based, and for medicinal purposes (my tonsillitis is possible literally killing me). I rarely eat ice cream, and the two brands I bought will last me through summer and beyond. Reusable and recyclable container. Great Aussie brand!! (Called Over The Moo if you want to check it out)
Frozen fish - because I'm lazy and its on sale, the box is recyclable and there is no internal plastic bag.
Yoghurt Pots (x2) - Another bargain, recyclable but these will be used for craft supplies or homemade gifts. If we don't eat it all, I'll freeze into ice pole moulds for the kids. Aussie made.
Bread in a Bag- Not always avoidable, can be reused if careful, but recyclable as is the bread tag. Made In nearby suburb, so I feel I'm contributing to local jobs.
Gravy Powder - Im not proud of this purchase, but it's reusable packaging and long lasting product, unlike the premixed bags that must be thoroughly washed before recycling (if they even can be, I'm not certain).
Pack of Eucalyptus Throat Drops - Cardboard but internally , individually plastic wrapped. Unlike blister packs, this can be recycled, another Aussie owned company.
Local Free Range Eggs - Reusable, recyclable and being local means it travelled less miles.
Dill Pickles - On the way out I also impulse bought a giant jar of pickles (1.9kgs) ....I will struggle to eat all of these but the jar is amazing!! (I am planning to make up some premixed 'convenience' meals from dry ingredients that I can keep in the pantry for the days my brain takes a holiday. I will offload some of these onto family, so if you want some, let me know!
*There are no affiliate links, and none of these brands are sponsoring me, this just happens to what I chose to buy this week*
Out of this trolley, just the smoked salmon packs and butter wrapper will end up in landfill. Many items are Aussie made and a few Aussie owned. After studying logistics, I was appalled at the distance and effort required for some foods. Its really shocking and hard to know as consumers what is actually going on behind the scenes. (Yes, I totally overthink everything, especially when it comes to my favourite topic - FOOD!)
Typically there would also a pack of meat in the trolley too, and maybe a bag of oats, a jar of coffee, recycled toilet paper, and a few other items. Today, just buying what we will eat before due dates and to compliment ingredients we already have.
I rarely purchase anything in the toiletries and chemical aisles and I'm really trying to minimize packaging that comes with junk food, so I skipped even looking at biscuits, snacks and cakes - We don't really need them anyway and can make our own healthier options. For example, I just started making a healthier LCM style muesli bar at home, everyone is loving it, and my daughter secretly shared some with her LCM eating friends who loved it too (great feedback!!)
Last week I bought a pack of Zooper Doopers without even thinking of the plastic! But, now I'm rinsing each of those little buggers out, drying them and then putting in our soft plastics collection (I don't think I'll buy them ever again as its a hassle I don't need when I can make better ones at home).
If you want to start making changes to your weekly shopping, then start small and don't try to get it right all at once. You could literally pick one or two items to focus on for the rest of the year and still make a difference to landfill. (Also, don't try to be perfect, it will drive you crazy and probably hangry).
How do you keep your supermarket low waste? Do you have a few luxuries or day-to-day items you never want to compromise on?
What items are the biggest challenge ?
Let me know in the comments below, or if you are on social media, I'd love to see pics of your low waste supermarket shops 😃