“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
– Albert Einstein, Physicist
‘No waste’ or ‘low waste’ living has thankfully become part of societies consciousness. People are inspired to take action and lessen their waste largely because our oceans and natural environments are filling up with garbage and plastic materials that can’t be broken down.
To give you an idea of how bad this problem has become, Ocean Conservancy states, “every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments. It ends up being ingested in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food. And when animals ingest plastic, it can cause life-threatening problems.”
And that plastic is also ending up in us – which also causes life-threatening problems. A new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology says, “it’s possible that humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 micro-plastic particles a year.” There’s definitely nothing nutritious or delicious about that fact!
In the name of the environment I thought I’d at least get you to started on your journey to ‘low waste’ living. Here are 4 Tips for Low-Waste/No-Waste Grocery Shopping
- This one may be obvious, but it’s also the easiest to implement: bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store. Keep bags in the trunk of your car or your bicycle basket so you always have something on hand. If you do forget, I find that most grocery stores now have the option of paper bags, which are way better. But don’t be too shy to ask for a small cardboard box to place your items in as an alternative to bags.
- Related to #1, avoid those small plastic bags in the bulk section. I was gifted a set of reusable produce bags that work well for anything from veggies to grains to nuts. If you’re really in a pinch, get creative and be on the look out for the brown paper bags that stores often keep near the mushrooms. In the past, I’ve grabbed a few brown bags and then headed back to the bulk section for grains and nuts.
- Discover Beeswax wraps. They’re great for the butcher, the deli and the fromageries (cheese shops). Instead of getting your food wrapped in terrible plastics like ‘saran wrap,’ or plastic-lined paper, hand over a beeswax wrap instead. Your butcher or cheesemonger shouldn’t have a problem with it. I was gifted some beeswax wraps, and in addition to shopping, I find them useful for wrapping up to-go snacks like muffins and to cover bowls of leftovers in the fridge.
- Invest in Mason Jars of all shapes and sizes. Sprouting up all over the place are “no waste” grocery stores. Near my place, there’s one called NU. It has a great a vibe with friendly staff, but it does require some preparation. Plan on brining your arsenal of storage items, like mason jars, reusable bags, beeswax wrap, etc. I wouldn’t say that these stores have everything you need for a full grocery shop, but they do carry quite a bit of grains, nuts, flours, spices, teas, coffees, chocolate, beans, and personal care products.
The good news is that many countries have banned or began the process to eliminate single-use plastic. The Canadian government has proposed a ban on single use plastic to take into effect in 2021. As cliché as it sounds, if we all do our part, we can significantly reduce the waste and plastic that goes into our oceans, the animals and our own bodies.
It’s worth the effort.