There are so many terms, labels and rules in the eco-friendly realm sometimes that it may become a little overwhelming. Labels like plastic-free, zero-waste, sustainable, recyclable… It’s so easy to research yourself into a rabbit hole, where it can be difficult to know what you should do.
My solution was to shed any expectation I’d put on myself to become completely zero-waste or plastic-free, I chose to forget all the “guidelines” I’d read about and just to focus on one small step at a time.
Luxuriously I had a peek in my trash to find out what was making up the bulk of it each week? I discovered it was mostly single-use plastics from food packaging. The kind that you use in the fresh produce section or plastic wrappers from granola bars, cereal, rice, oats, etc. So from there, I knew where I needed to make the biggest change.
Right now, I am by no means 100% zero-waste or plastic-free, I am only just beginning to adjust my lifestyle to be more eco-friendly and doing my best. It’s important to remember that it can be challenging to make the switch, it may initially cost more or be time-consuming for some. We are all at different stages in our lives, with different priorities and some of us just don’t have the availability. This is why, just like we shouldn’t judge others for their progress, we shouldn’t judge ourselves for ours.
So with that out of way, let’s check out some solutions to single-use plastic.
6 Reusable Products for Eco-Friendly Shopping
01. Fresh Produce Bags
These are mesh bags often made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles, that generally range in size and usually have a drawstring at the top to safely secure their contents. I love using these for fresh produce such as fruit and veg as they let air flow freely through, plus they’re so lightweight that there’s no need to worry about them adding to your grocery bill.
02. Bulk food bags
These are similar to the fresh produce bags, however, they’re usually made of cotton rather than mesh so that you can use them for fine grains. They’re great to use at a bulk food store for things like rice, oats, nuts, seeds, pasta, etc. They don’t usually weigh very much either but if they do, you can simply write the weight on the bag and have the store assistant deduct that from the price.
03. Shopping bags & totes
I have found that having a specific tote or carry bag ready for taking to the grocery store to be incredibly helpful. I store my other eco-friendly shopping products in it and keep it right by the door so that I can grab it on my way out and know that I’m not forgetting anything. This has been a life-saver for me.
I don’t use containers as much as I use my bags because they’re most commonly used for cheese and deli meats (which I don’t buy), however, I have used them for olives, sundried tomatoes, loose berries from the farmers market and take-out. You can use a stainless steel bento box, a lunch box or simply use a plastic food storage container that you already have. This is a great way to reuse single-use plastic containers that you accidentally acquire from getting takeout.
05. Bread bags
Bread bags are wonderful if you purchase bread, muffins or pastries from a bakery or farmers market. You can ask that it be put into your bread bag instead of their own bag, which also saves them a bag. These bags keep your bread fresh, you can continue to store the bread in them or transfer it to a bread bin once you get home.
06. Glass jars
Glass jars are typically what people use for food storage if they purchase from a bulk food store and some people like to cut out the middle-man (the bulk food bags) by taking their jars along and filling them in the store. You can write the weight of the jar on the bottom so that it can be deducted from the price. This is usually only worth doing if you only need to get a few things per trip. You can either wash out and reuse food jars or you can purchase new jars. I’m an aesthetically driven person so I like all of my jars to match but it’s totally up to the individual.