Our Zero Waste Shopping List
What items might you find on a zero waste shopping list?
One of the first things I did before attempting our first zero waste shopping trip was to make a weekly meal planner and a detailed zero waste shopping list.
I wanted to share it, in the hope that it will help someone else to get their head around this sometimes daunting task!
That said, your zero waste journey will be totally different to mine so don’t be afraid to edit it as much as you want.
The best place to start is by looking at your current waste. If you look at what you’re throwing out each week you can start making gradual changes.
Before you embark on creating your zero waste shopping list, take a look at our plastic free shopping guide.
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Zero Waste Shopping in a Supermarket.
I think it’s important to mention that being entirely zero waste in today’s society isn’t really achievable.
Everything we do creates an element of waste and many of practices that would make a zero wasters journey easier just don’t exist anymore…although some are being revived due to demand! 🤗
Committing to live a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle is about making the best choices that we can make…and feeling good about them.
So, we do the best that we can do.
If our only option, for whatever reason, is to shop in a supermarket…
If we walk to an organic bulk store…
Or take a bus to a local farmers market…
We’re all doing our best and we should all feel proud of the steps that we’ve taken.
Who Is This Zero Waste Shopping List For?
To give you some context, we’re a family of four…myself, my husband and our two young boys (age 2 and almost 4).
We enjoy food. We like having nice things to snack on and we don’t want to feel like we’re not able to eat the things that we like.
When we started this process we lived in rural Wales so were shopping in small supermarkets and health food type stores. (We’ll be back there again soon!)
For the last 6 months we’ve been in France for work so have had this store nearby…(amazing right!?)
Please, don’t despair if you don’t have a shop like the one above on your doorstep.
There are still many positive changes that can be made to ensure that you shop as zero waste -erly as possible.
So, what’s on our zero waste shopping list?
I’ll add a downloadable version at the bottom of this post but I’ll run through it in a little more detail here first:
Fruits And Vegetables On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
- Look for farmers markets, organic shops, farm shops, green grocers.
- You may even find a weekly veg box delivery company in your area.
- Many supermarkets offer at least some un-packaged fruit and veg.
- If you have a local grower or market nearby then towards the end of summer buy a sack of potatoes and store them over winter. Opt for Hessian (reusable) or paper sacks.
- You can also store onions, garlic and apples.
- Snack on fruit and vegetables like carrots with hummus.
- Buy seasonally and locally. Its cheaper, will taste better and has a smaller carbon footprint.
- If you’re not sure what’s seasonal where you are then have a quick Google.
Store Cupboard Items On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
- Buy at a bulk or package free store if avaiable.
- Some zero waste shopping list items are more expensive at bulk stores but we’ve found that generally basics like oats and pasta are affordable.
- If not then buy the biggest you can at a supermarket and store in smaller containers at home.
- Look for items grown and produced in your country of residence.
- Opt for the best packaging…oats can often be found packaged in paper bags.
Zero Waste Baking Items On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
Baking ingredients are always on my zero waste shopping list so that we can make our own treats.
- Baking your own is a good way to avoid biscuits, cakes, chocolates, sweets and crisps as they usually come heavily packaged.
- Baking can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be…I always opt for easy 😁
- Bake once a week and freeze cookies, muffins or bread rolls and defrost as required. This stops them all being eaten at once!
- Freeze biscuits in a freezer box or glass jar. Bread can be frozen wrapped in a teatowel.
- Buy flour, sugar etc in paper which you can compost or recycle.
- If we can afford/find chocolate chips etc at a bulk store we’ll get them…otherwise we don’t.
- Add fruit (and veg) to muffins…apple cakes, courgette cakes (even my fussy toddler loved them!)
Dairy / Dairy Alternatives On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
We have been reducing the amount of animal products that we consume but if ypu buy dairy then here’s what to look out for:
- If you don’t eat dairy then oat milk is easy to make.
- Look for a small hobby farmer that sells fresh free-range eggs.
- If not you can sometimes find them loose in shops (just reuse your egg box).
- Failing that, buy in cardboard reuse, give away, recycle or compost them.
- Avoid buying tiny pots of yogurt and buy a big pot instead.
- Better still, make your own.
- Buy butter wrapped in paper.
- You can make your own with cream that’s reduced in supermarkets. It can be frozen too which is handy.
- Supermarkets with a deli counter usually offer unpackaged cheese.
- Bring your own tub and ask for the cheese to be placed in without cling wrap. You will need to point this out or it’ll often be wrapped first.
- Find a local cheese maker.
Buy in the biggest blocks you can find in supermarket and grate 4 or slice before freezing.
Meat and Fish On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
Personally, we’ve already chosen to cut meat from our diet. If you want to read more about how meat consumption impacts on the environment then you can read this.
- If you eat meat then take a tub to the butcher. Get them to put it straight in the box.
- Pop it in the freezer or refrigerator in portions in the boxes.
Other Items On Our Zero Waste Shopping List
- Read our post on buying and making zero waste tea.
- Buy bread from the bakery or supermarket bakers section.
- Making your own can be easy too…I always think people make bread sound so complicated.
- Get a stand mixer (affiliate) to do the work for you! I use mine daily.
- Bread dough is great for making rolls and pizza bases too.
Nuts, seeds and dried fruits
- These make tasty snacks and can be added to baked cakes and biscuits.
- Buy loose from a bulk or health food store if you can. If that’s not possible then buy the biggest you can and store in air-tight jars.
- We try to avoid nuts that come from abroad and are intensively grown.
Herbs and spices
- As above, buy loose if you can…if not buy larger packs.
- Growing your own can be fun too. You only need a windowsill to grow a few herbs. Most are really easy to grow.
- You can dry them on a low heat in the oven too so you have plenty over winter.
- We’re really lucky that we can get vinegars and oil refills. If you can’t then buy in glass bottles and reuse, give away or recycle them.
- It’s a good idea to try to reduce the amount of oil that we consume.
- Buy oil that’s made using produce that is grown in your country. For us right now that’s grape oil or rapeseed.
- If you want soft drinks then try a soda stream.
- Drinking carbonated water and frozen fruit slices or juice if you enjoy your soft drinks.
Non-Edibles On Our Zero Waste Shopping
- Bicarb of soda
- Savon Marseille for the dishes, the house and us!
- Compostable scourer
- Laundry washing powder. I think this one is down to the type of water and washer that you have. It’s heavily debated in the zero waste world. You can try soap nuts, refills, buying big cardboard boxes of powder.
Find what works for you.
- Cloth Sanitary Protection – mooncup, washable pads.
- Toilet paper (in compostable wrapper) or bidet and washable wipes.
- Shampoo can be bought in refills. Personally, I use nothing…gasp!
- Conditioner can also be found in refills or use diluted apple cider vinegar.
- Soap. Buy bars and avoid liquid hand wash in single-use plastic bottles.
- Razors. We us this reusable safety razor.
- Shaving soap.
- Flannels to replace single use face wipes.
- Hand cream. Try my DIY cream or refillable bottles.
- Toothbrushes. Bamboo
- Body and face scrub. To make an amazing plastic free scrub literally mix sugar with a splash of oil. You can add a small spoon of local honey too if you like.
- Cloth nappies
- Cloth baby wipes
Vegums are multi-vitamins tailored for a plant-based diet. They are delivered to your door plastic free.
A Week Of Zero Waste Meals
If you’re wondering what we’d make with all these ingredients then take a look at our sample menu below….
If in doubt ask yourself these questions:
And…remember to email manufactures and sellers if what you want isn’t there..
You can read more about plastic free shopping here.
So that’s it I think!
Our zero waste shopping list. Please let me know if you think I’ve forgotten anything.