I am about 4 months in to my journey to zero waste now. I call it a journey because I’ve accepted that the is a huge transition that is going to take some time. A lot of the blog posts I have been reading share a list of stuff that you need to buy in order to start living zero waste. I can’t help but feel conflicting by my inner minimalist by the idea that in order to produce less, you need to buy more. I’m still very much a newbie to this Zero Waste game but will share some of the things I have found most helpful so far; essentials to buy and a few tips for the journey.
Jars & Containers
There’s a bunch of different ways you can do this and you will need to figure out what works for you. I use these to get meat from the butcher and deli meats and cheeses from the deli. The mason jars are an affordable option at only $2 a pop, but can be difficult to fit meat into. I have also reused jars from honey and jams which are a great size for smaller items like cheese and sundries tomatoes. The Pyrex containers are a little pricey, but versatile. These can be frozen, microwaved, put into the oven, a great option for storing leftovers too.
Pretty obvious I know. If there’s one thing everyone can do, it’s buying reusable grocery bags in place of plastic ones. I know, you probably ‘need’ those plastic bags to line your rubbish bin – we will cover that in a future blog post.
I challenge you to take this one step further – reusable produce bags! We actually get our fruit and veg delivered plastic free from the local organic shop. However, I use these for all bulk foods like grains, seeds, nuts, baking goods, snacks etc. If you are like me and have a sewing machine and some fabric lying around it’s an option that doesn’t have to cost you anything either. I made mine on a lazy afternoon using some calico I already owned. There’s also heaps of great options for sale, have a look online.
Reusable Cups and Bottles
The options here are plentiful. We prefer stainless steel drink bottles, but even a plastic reusable bottles I better than a one-time-use bottle. If you are a coffee addict like myself, a reusable coffee cup is a must. I currently have a plastic one from Keep Cup, I hear they do great glass ones too.
There is till the occasion where I am at work, craving a coffee and have forgotten my keep cup. A little forward planning makes the process so much easier. I have a container in my car where I keep reusable bags, straws, cutlery and some mason jars. I have a drink bottle and work and one at home. My keep cup stays at home but I could really do with purchasing one to keep at work. Meal planning makes the process easier too, then you will know exactly how many jars you need before you head to the store. Finding bulk stores in your areas can be difficult too – the Bulk App is great, but be creative, sometimes your standard grocery store will have a small bulk food section and if you have never been to your local farmers market it’s worth checking out.
When I first started this journey I went to the local grocery store with the idea that I could shop almost totally zero waste there. No. The deli refused to use my container and grocery shopping left me feeling defeated for weeks. I have since found that locally owned stores and farmers markets are much more accomodating. Ask and you shall recieve as they say! My local butcher uses my own containers, as does the bulk foods stores with containers and bags and I have since managed to convince the young boy who works at that country wide grocery store on a Sunday to use my own container for the deli meats – he he
Absorb yourself with information and remind yourself of why you started this journey in the first place – I promise you that you will find what works for you and it WILL get easier!
2 thoughts on “Zero Waste Essentials”
The last two are important points! I definitely have found that there is a lot of prep involved in this lifestyle; I have appreciated this though, because a lot of individuals are always on-the-fly and do everything convenience-based. This way I teach myself to think and plan ahead, especially for road trips (essential!).
Also, it is important to ask. Some businesses allow own containers, some do not, but you won’t know unless you ask. Local business owners and farmer’s markets, as you say, are a lot more accommodating with this, which gives a little extra motivation to why we do this 🙂
Thanks for your thoughts Nadine. So very true – I have to argue that living this lifestyle incorporates mindfulness – we have to stop leading such rush lives and become more mindful of what we are buying and where it has come from.
All the best with your journey
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