What's in my zero waste grocery bag


One of the first areas I combatted in regards to my waste was food packaging -- it may be because I studied food packaging quite a bit in college, or because I love to eat (don’t we all?). Our food consumption takes a toll on our total waste production though, as the EPA estimates that food and food packaging accounts for almost 50% of our waste. So what better place to start than one of the biggest contributors of trash today?

Food packaging and food waste comes in various forms — from dining out, quick snacks on the go, to grocery shopping trips on a weekly basis. I love to cook at home, so decided to tackle my grocery shopping trip first. The quick video above shows what I have in my grocery bag. I know everyone has their preferences, but here's what I currently use!

What’s in my zero waste grocery kit

  • Stainless steel containers - Unfortunately these came wrapped in plastic bags, but the shop instructed that I could recycle them through this service. The tiffins are still great nonetheless, and I'm glad I invested in these. The ones link come in a set of 5, and nest into each other like Russian dolls so they’re great for storing and bringing things on the go.

  • Glass jars - The majority of my jar I got as gifts or received second hand. These are great if you are careful with glass and don't fear dropping it. I prefer wide mouth jars since the scoops found in bulk section work best with these, and it’s easier to slide products in. Please also note that buying new mason jars will be wrapped in plastic!

  • Organic cotton bulk bags - I’ve linked a similar option to what I found at my local Whole Foods, or better yet, upcycle some old bed sheets and make your own! These are great for pastries, dry goods that aren’t too sticky like rice, grains and beans.

  • Organic cotton produce bags - These were my first purchase back in 2014 to reduce my plastic, before I even discovered the zero waste lifestyle. They're holding up perfectly, and fit plenty of produce.

  • Refillable dry erase markers - I use these markers to mark the tare weight of the jar (weight when empty) and SKU of each item. They’re refillable and have a metal body instead of plastic!

Hope this provides some inspiration to get you started. Remember that any reusable container will do, as long as it's clean and your store is fine with it! Be encouraged to take some small steps in replacing your packaging with reusables one at a time -- I started with produce bags since they were lightweight and could be used at any store, and slowly grew onto bringing my own containers and figuring out the tare system at my store as well. It's all about the baby steps, what’s available in your area, and what works for you.