When you join the eco-friendly conversation, you tend to become aware of an overwhelming amount of terms and labels that can be quite confusing. Things like plastic-free, zero-waste, sustainable, recycle . . . just to name a few. With these, you can easily research yourself into a rabbit hole, where you become unsure of what to do next.
Trust me, I know that feeling! Luckily I’m quite good at recognising that I’m overwhelmed and doing something about it. 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 I decided to take one small step at a time.
My first step was not as luxurious as you might think; I started to think a lot about our trash bin and, specifically, what was making up the bulk of it week after week? I discovered it was indeed single-use plastics from food packaging. The kind that you use in the fresh produce section, plastic wrappers from granola bars and plastic bags from cereal, rice, oats . . . the list goes on! So I decided the most logical first step for me was to find an alternative.
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. 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 either.
So with that out of way, let’s get into it!
6 REUSABLE PRODUCTS FOR ECO-FRIENDLY SHOPPING
1. FRESH PRODUCE BAGS
These are mesh bags often made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles, that come in a small pouch for storing, they 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 veggies 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!
- Eco Friendly Reusable Mesh Produce Bags – Set 5 Large + Pouch
- Reusable Produce Shopping Bag 10 Piece Set – Organic Cotton Muslin + Mesh
2. 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. I love to use these at the bulk food store for things like rice, oats, nuts, seeds, pasta, etc. They don’t usually weigh very much but if they do, you can simply write the weight on the bag and have the store assistant deduct that from the price.
- Reusable Produce Bulk Bag Made from Hemp Fabric – Heavy Duty
- Eco Friendly Organic Cotton Reusable Muslin Produce Bags – Set 4 Large
3. 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!
- Eco Friendly Shopping Bag Set – 5 Cotton Mesh Bags + Large Canvas Farmers Market Bag
- Reusable Collapsible Grocery Shopping Bag – Heavy Duty 30L
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.
5. BREAD BAGS
Bread bags are wonderful if you purchase bread, muffins or pastries from your local bakery or farmers market. You can ask that it be put into your bread bag instead of the usual plastic bags that they use. If it’s already bagged they will generally be happy to remove it and reuse the plastic bag for another loaf of bread. 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.
- Eco Friendly Reusable Bread Bag Keeper 41 x 25 x 10cm
- Artisan Loaf Cotton/Linen Bread Bag 20 x 30 x 40 cm
6. 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 simply taking their jars along and filling them in the store. They 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.
- Ball Wide Mouth 64 oz. Half Gallon Mason Jars – 6 Count
- Kerr Regular Mouth 32 oz. Quart Mason Jars – 12 Count
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Image source: summer & west.