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5 Ways to Cut Down Shopping Waste

A woman's hand picking produce out of a bin with one hand, and holding mesh shopping bags in the other.
j.chizhe/Shutterstock

It’s frustrating when the trash can and recycle bin are overflowing. If you’re tired of bringing home extra waste when you go shopping, there are some things you can do to reduce it.

Depending on what you’re shopping for, it’s not impossible to minimize the waste from a shopping trip. Here are some tips that are sure to help you cut down on the stuff filling up your garbage and recycle bins.

Take Your Reusable Bags Everywhere

It’s a good habit to never leave your home without your reusable shopping bags. If you have space in your vehicle, consider putting them back in the car after each shopping trip. If not, keep them in a visible spot by the door so they’re easy to grab as you head out.

Don’t have any reusable shopping bags? It’s time to stock up. You can get them at dollar stores for a buck or less, or make your own at home out of old T-shirts.

And reusable bags aren’t just for just groceries; they’re just as handy when you’re shopping for clothes or any other stuff you might need.

Get Some Mesh Produce Bags

If you buy a lot of produce, you’re probably sick of all those plastic bags (including the kind you put your meat in to avoid dripping blood on the rest of your food). To avoid these plastic menaces, pick up some mesh produce bags.

To protect your food from the aforementioned meat juices, bring along some plastic bags from home. This way, you get multiple uses out of the plastic you do have and won’t accumulate more.

Don’t Bring Home Plastic Hangers

When you’re buying clothing, the clerk often asks if you want to keep the hangers, or she’ll just bag them up with the clothing still attached without giving you an option. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell the cashier you don’t want the hangers.

Store hangers are often flimsy and break easily. Even if you get a good few days of use out of them, they end up in the trash soon enough.

You can buy cheap hangers at the dollar store. They’re much stronger, so they won’t break under the weight of your heavy winter coat or when you yank a shirt off them a little too roughly.

Cut Down on Processed Foods

Not only is eating whole foods healthier, but it will also help you cut down the waste in your home. There are still some stores that sell stuff in bulk, as well. There, you can scoop nuts or cereal out of a bin and put it in your own bags.

Instead of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, buy them fresh and freeze or can them yourself. You can then reuse your canning jars and reusable frozen food containers.

If you buy meat at the butcher or deli counter, have it wrapped fully in paper instead of with the Styrofoam platters. Paper composts quicker. If you bring home boxed foods, you can use the boxes for some clever craft ideas.

When it’s an option, another great idea is to buy condiments and other foods that come in plastic containers in glass ones instead. You can then reuse glass jars and bottles for vases, drinkware, and more.

Say No to Receipts

Some people have to collect receipts for tax purposes, but that doesn’t mean you have to have stacks of them all over your house.

Even if you don’t have to hold on to them for your taxes, receipts are a must when you purchase anything you might need to return (including grocery items).

These days, printed receipts aren’t your only option, though. If you shop with a loyalty card, find out if your shopping trips are saved on the store’s app or website when you sign in with your loyalty info.

Some stores also let you type your email address or phone number and have your receipt emailed or texted to you. Use these options when they’re available, so you can keep your recycling bin from overflowing.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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