One of my favorite spots at our local Whole Foods Market is the bulk food isle. I love filling endless amounts of containers (at a bargain price of $9.99/lb) with all sorts of grains and snacks, while simultaneously hoping that a previous customer didn’t sneeze in the bin. Yesterday I was in the bulk food isle filling up my plastic containers and plastic bags with all sorts of goodies when a woman passed by gathering her own collection of bulk treats. As her cart cruised by I peered in and noticed that she had several reusable containers and bags to transport her nuts, oatmeal and rice.
She scooped her bulk oatmeal into a bag that looked just like this (but empty):
I then glanced into my own cart only to find lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (I needed to supplement what was already delivered to us by our CSA) bagged in those ridiculous plastic bags off the rolls. All of my bulk foods were also in plastic bags or plastic containers. There were so many plastic bags and containers in my cart that I could hardly see what was what.
I then began to question my dedication to bringing in my own reusable bags each time I shop. I am committed to bringing them with me, but find myself filling those reusables with fresh produce and other foods wrapped in single use plastic bags. Our Whole Foods stopped using plastic bags at the checkout, but continues to have them available throughout the store for produce, meat and bulk foods.
Should I add reusable produce and bulk food bags to my supermarket routine?
I know I have to be realistic-it has literally taken me years to figure out a system where I can actually remember to bring my reusable bags into the store. My system isn’t fail proof, but it does work on most visits to the market. Now I am contemplating adding a new dimension to my reusable routine-bringing in my own containers and bags for the food before it is placed into my reusable bag at the checkout.
If I do decide to change-up my routine and add reusable bags/containers for produce and bulk foods, I’m just not sure what container or bags to bring. Here are a few ideas:
I like this glass container because it’s not plastic. But it could shatter at some point during my bumpy trek to or from the market.
This plastic container could work. It is originally from Whole Foods but could be used as a reusable container for other food.
I could also invest in a few Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags. They aren’t very expensive and they could be stored inside the other reusable bags that travel with me to the store.
I’m just not sure I can handle adding anything else to my supermarket routine.
Do you bring in your own containers or bags for fruits, vegetables and bulk foods? I need a little help here.
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**Top photo used under Creative Commons from BCMom
That’s right; November 15th is America Recycles Day. Since 1997, communities across the country have celebrated this day as a way to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made with recycled materials.
For many of us recycling is second nature-we place our recycle bins curbside on a weekly basis. Recycling is certainly an important part of living sustainably., however, a nagging question lingers: Is recycling really the best option? What about the other 2 R’s-reduce and reuse? Perhaps recycling is a symptom of a much larger problem: the creation of an unbelievable amount of waste that then needs to be recycled. Lloyd Alter of Planetgreen.com says that the bigger issue “… is the energy made producing things that don’t last, replacing bottles that get recycled instead of refilled, picking up shopping bags that get tossed instead of reused.”
So who are the brains behind this nationally recognized day of recycling? Among the many sponsors organizing this annual event are bottled water companies, soda companies, garbage disposal companies, bottled juice companies, breweries and plastic lobbyists. Notice a common theme among them? Plastic and aluminum comprise a big chunk of their livelihood. Their products come in bottles or cans or they lobby for plastic, plastic and more plastic. Hmmmmm-no wonder they are advocating for a recycling day; more plastic and aluminum used means more of their products are being sold which translates into more money in their pockets.
There is a whole movement that goes way beyond promoting recycling called the ‘zero waste’ movement. The ‘zero waste‘ movement imagines a future where everything is a renewable resource and reusable so the amount of trash sent to landfills is minimal.
Photo used under Creative Commons from D'Arcy Norman
So can we, as a community, step beyond America Recycles Day and shoot for Zero Waste Day? Here are some ideas on how you can celebrate:
Don’t buy any single use items-at least for today and then work towards everyday. No plastic bottles of water, no single serving snack bags, no coffee or tea in a plastic or paper disposable cup
Recommit to using reusable shopping bags
Try to buy products with little or no packaging-shop locally or buy food in bulk
Eat food and beverages using reusable cups, bowls, plates, utensils, and trays-no paper or plastic disposables
Refuse single-use straws in your drinks
Try to reuse something that you would normally thrown out
Support and compliment businesses that have a program in place to reduce, reuse or recycle
Bottom line: Less is the new black. Use less today and everyday.
What are some other ways to celebrate Zero Waste Day?
Can’t get enough about zero waste? Here’s more to chew on:
You will not want to miss this live stream event extraordinaire on Saturday, November 6th on plastic pollution. It will be broadcast live RIGHT HERE!
What is this event?
TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch is a forum where experts, youth leaders, visual and performing artists, actors, musicians, politicians and many others gather to share how plastic pollution affects ocean/environmental health and public health. They will look at solutions for reducing our plastic footprint, and begin to develop ideas about eliminating plastic pollution through individual action as well as public- and private-sector innovation.
Be on the lookout for one of my favorite anti-plastic mavens during the conference…..Beth Terry from Fake Plastic Fish.
Check back here on Saturday from 11:30 am- 9 pm EST-don’t worry, I will remind you-for live coverage of this event. Want to see what is happening during the conference and when? See the complete agenda for all the details.