I think the most intimidating part of going "zero waste" is shopping for food. It's what we consume the most and almost all of is wrapped in plastic, glass, or cardboard. After my first grocery run, I'm confident that I will only starve a little bit this month.
HOW TO SHOP PACKAGE FREE
1. BYOC: Bring Your Own Container
We all know to bring our own cloth grocery bags but to go completely zero waste, you must come prepared with containers and smaller bags to store bulk items. I used my bags and containers to buy peanut butter, oatmeal, lentils, a loaf of fresh sourdough bread, and parmesan cheese. I also used mesh laundry bags to grab fruits and vegetables. I'm not yet brave enough to ask the butcher to stuff a steak in a mason jar.
When using your own container you will have to first have it weighed to grab the tare or weight of the container. Then you will fill the container with your item. The cashier will subtract the item from the weight of the container.
I felt like such a dork with all my clanking jars in the bulk section. The woman seemed sort of annoyed with me when I showed my varied jar collection but three minutes of emotional discomfort was worth my bulk peanut butter.
2. Shop Around the Edges of the Store
The things you can buy without packages all reside either in the bulk section or along the edges of the store.
3. Start with Farmers Markets
Yes, farmers markets can be expensive and inconvenient. I know it's not fun paying seven dollars for kohlrabi. What is kohlrabi anyway? But when you're thinking about zero waste and the environment, shopping straight from the farm is a great way to not only buy package free goods but also learn about the local food you're eating. I had a ton of fun learning about what's in season and where everything comes from. My expensive eggs tasted amazing too and when you can't eat packaged Ben & Jerry's, tasty eggs are worth something.
4. Shop Around!
So far I wandered around Whole Foods, Central Market, and Wheatsville and I've been pleasantly surprised to see all that they have to offer without packaging. You can get bulk lotion, olive oils, tons of candy, teas, spices, grains, and more. I even found bulk dog food for my weirdo pup Kevin. I hope Kevin is into zero waste. Not every store has everything but these three stores in Austin pretty much cover the basics.
Also Also, even though I bought lots of local and organic products, my grocery bill was so cheap! Packaging is apparently expensive and going zero waste makes you rethink what you really need. Month of Money Sarah would be proud.