Thursday, October 5, 2017

Doing Some Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

 The last two days I have had to out and about anyway (Eye therapy for Mara yesterday and our homeschool co-op today) so I added in some food shopping expeditions. The goal this month is to find ways to get what we need without getting all the packaging that so often goes with it. It has been fun to work on.
  Yesterday I went to Harmony Food Co-op, a natural food store that we have in town. I have long known that they have items in bulk bins that you can buy and I have purchased things from them before (even as a child we would go there to buy many of our spices) but I have never taken my own containers in to use before - I have always just used the plastic bags that they provided. So my new experience there was to take jars in with me (I do want to make some cloth or netting bags for that purpose too but haven't done that yet) and I took them to the front counter and had them put the Tare (weight) on them and then I went and filled them up with the desired items.

 I bought some herbs and spices
 Some dish soap
 And some sesame sticks for a snack because Megan and Aaron were along and really wanting them.
There are quite a lot of different options of things that you can buy from the bulk bins. We do have at least one other store in town with bulk bins as well. I am not sure if the variety is much different or not.

It was pretty easy and I found it pretty fun. You do have to think ahead (unless I would store containers and bags in my van which I may start doing) but I usually plan ahead on my trips there anyway.

  Today I had lined up to go buy cows milk from a farmer that lives around my parents and then my mom told me that another (basically organic) farmer that lives in that area had a bunch of produce that he was wanting to sell. So I also went there and I bought a bunch of onions from him as well as some peppers. I was able to take my own bags along and came away with no packaging. :-) I wish I could have gotten a picture of the farmer in his lovely greenhouse of peppers and tomatoes but I was shy about asking. He was  your traditional farmer in overalls and on a tractor when we got there. His produce looks beautiful. He charges a fair price for it as well.
 Buying cows milk from the farm is going to save us a lot of packaging but to start with we had to deal with some plastic packaging anyway. The farmer has all of the people that get from him use these same jars and lids and that way we can bring empty jars which he sterilizes and fills and then we pick up full ones (but not necessarily our jars). We are quite excited about the cream that we have by buying raw  cows' milk!!! Some of the jars look like they are about 1/3 cream. We got 4 gallons of milk so that means we have around 1 gallon of cream. We love cream so we are pretty excited. I also hope to make butter and I want to try making sour cream. With the plastic packaging from the jars I do plan on making a outdoor rag rug so at least it will get used again.
 Our final (and best!) farm stop was at my parents. They have a lovely hobby farm and they bless us so often and so much by sharing the bounty of it. They keep us supplied with goats milk much of the year which is such a huge blessing! (The reason we are getting cows' milk too is because Ken doesn't care for the goats milk and then also the goats' milk doesn't have cream that separates very much and so we do love cream from the cows' milk). They also share so much from their garden and orchard. Today Mom and I picked corn and apples to bring home. They also sent some more milk with us too.
With any of the milk from farms we use glass jars which we can use over and over again. With produce from the farms we can use resusable bags, boxes, buckets, baskets, etc. No plastic packaging at all - I love it! :-)

  That is how we got some various groceries without creating waste. What options do you have where you live for buying food without packaging waste? If you start looking there may be more than you think. Also if you are willing to bring your own containers you may find that it is just fine to use those instead of the plastic bags that are provided.


Nola said...

Wow, this is great! I used to be much better about being intentional about packaging and waste. I think it changed when I moved to an area with less options. There is a farmer's market here, but it is so expensive. I get that farmers need a fair price for their produce, but I don't know, it still seems so expensive to me. Its not something we can often afford to go to. I wish I could more. We are finding food prices to be insane. It keeps going up, and we keep cutting back on things, but the prices go up more than the cutting back. I am not sure if its the same in the U.S. or at the same rate or not. But its getting fairly unmanageable at times. It also seems to me the small amount of farms we have around here (and they are also small farms) charge a premium for their stuff since they are so small and there aren't many around. Anyways, we try to do what we can. We got 30 bags of blueberries this summer that we picked for free in the woods. I wanted to get even more but I will be thankful for what we have! :)

Abbi said...

The farmers markets around can be rather expensive as well. I do understand why they need to charge more as they are not subsidized and such but still it is a challenge for those of us living on a budget to buy from them. Yes, food prices have been going up here as well. We keep growing/producing more and more but still our food budget has to increase. That is cool that you got so many blueberries! We went blueberry picking as well and were able to get some but not that much. There were plenty of blueberries but they were not large and they of course took a very long time to pick. This wasn't a bad year for us for wild blueberries but not a good year either. We usually like to pick Juneberries (or serviceberries) as well but this was a bad year for them for some reason.


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