eco swap: pantry

After reading books about low waste and watching many youtube videos, I knew that the kitchen would be the hardest place to tackle. It's still a work in progress, but I've come a long way and it turned out to be very rewarding (and aesthetically pleasing). I didn't realize how much package I had in my pantry until I switched to reusable glass jars and containers. I always noticed how wasteful food packaging could be, but it was only after going low waste that I truly stopped to think about it and started making better choices when it came to my grocery shopping habits.

I'm not very good at waiting, so instead of progressively getting rid of the packaging I had and slowly transitioning to glass jars, I went ahead and bought two dozen mason jars with wide mouth lids and used them for everything I could... Rice, pasta, beans, quinoa, cookies. You name it! There were a few food items that I left in the original packaging and once it was time to buy them again I looked for alternatives that didn't come in plastic or simply stopped buying them.

Based on the advice given by Bea Johnson in her book Zero Waste Home, I also got a washable pencil to bring with me while shopping so I could write the PLU numbers in my jars. The first time I did it I was a little anxious about the cashier not accepting my jars, but just like she said in her book, as long as you ask politely and smile, few people will tell you no. After that first time, it was love at first try. I've been bringing my jars to the grocery store for over eight months now and never had any problems or anyone telling me I couldn't do it. And to help out with the process, I've also written down the tare weight of each jar on the bottom with a sharpie, that way it makes check out smoother and faster.

And of course that wasn't the only change in my shopping habits. I absolutely love Trader Joe's, but once I started to pay attention to what I was bringing home, I noticed how wasteful their packaging was, especially their produce. So I bought less items from them and looked for supermarkets that sold their produce package free and had a bulk section. It took me a while to get the hang of things, but now I know exactly what I need to get and where I can get it from. Sure, it takes me longer to do my groceries since I now shop at three different places. But coming home with a (reusable) bag full of plastic free produce and all my mason jars filled with bulk items is priceless.

Another great addition to my grocery routine were the reusable produce bags from Colony Co. You can wash them and reuse them over and over again, they are life saving and cute at the same time. I've gotten many compliments on them! And besides the produce bags I always have my totes in the car for whenever I need them and make sure to pack my mason jars when it's time to refill them. And if I ever happen to forget them I usually just cary the products I bought in my hand or use a paper bag, NEVER plastic ones. I would say that from all the eco-swaps I've done so far, looking at my pantry filled with glass containers and minimal labels brings me the most joy!

Ready to change your shopping habits and try some low waste alternatives?