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5 Tips for Plastic-Free Grocery Shopping

From FTO’s founder, Mimi Ausland

Trying not to buy items packaged in plastic while grocery shopping can be a frustrating experience. We’ve all been there (many times)! Hopefully, the following tips offer some insight into how to shop for your food in a more sustainable way. When you follow these tips, you can also save money, a win-win. We know it can be overwhelming, but these small changes you make are significant! Don’t be too hard on yourself, and try to have some fun when putting these tips into action. 



Before you head out the door, go through a quick mental checklist of what you’re heading out for. One of the most common ways I end up using more plastic than I’d like is by rushing out quickly without making a list of what I’m getting or from where. A small amount of preparation and thinking through your shopping trip can be a great way to reduce how much plastic you buy when you’re out.

Bring your reusables

When it comes to plastic-free grocery shopping, your best friends are reusable! Remembering your reusable bags and fabric fruit and veggie bags is the easiest way to use less plastic at the store. Over 500 billion plastic bags are used every year annually - that’s at least a million a minute - and yet replacing your plastic bags with a reusable alternative could be the easiest thing you do to get rid of plastic. Make your final check before stepping outside the house on the way to the shop your reusable bags!

Buy whole foods and fresh produce

Most grocery stores stock loose fruit and vegetables and by choosing this you can help contribute to reducing plastic waste. When buying vegetables, opt to choose the loose veggies over the plastic-wrapped multipacks. The skin of a fruit is much better protection for that piece of food than all the packaging that it can come wrapped in!

Look for bulk dried goods

Dried goods can also be a part of your shopping where you can easily reduce your plastic footprint. This is because dried goods are the simplest of your kitchen cupboard to buy in bulk. To make this work, you’ll need some good storage containers in the kitchen. Either use old glass jars that you’ve washed out or seek some nicer ones in a homeware shop or online. Properly stored in a dry environment, dried goods can last for years.

Shop local and independent

You could start looking at other shopping destinations that don’t use as much plastic. Local grocery stores, health food shops and farmers markets are often some of the best places to get loose fruit and vegetables, which you can put in a paper bar or just straight into your own reusable one. Food being sold fresh is far less likely to come in plastic packaging because the point of buying fresh is to eat fresh and so there is no need for any kind of packaging to store it. Local, of course, may not always be an option - it could be too costly or the choice is limited. In this case you could explore home delivery options which for many people can be a good way to reduce waste!
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