I often get questions about what supplies I recommend when building a waste free grocery shopping routine and food storage area. My first answer is that you do NOT need to buy anything. If you want to be both creative and frugal, you can absolutely design your kitchen to be waste free with things you already have by saving the glass jars from you pasta sauce, pickles, spices, and other grocery items you regularly buy in glass containers. I also recommend saving (after washing, of course) plastic tubs, from food items like yogurt and sour cream, and bags to be reused.
There are few key features I look for in a glass jar:
- Wide mouth - I prefer a wider mouth (vs the "regular" mouth) for both filling and emptying.
- Straight sides - this is an especially important feature if you plan to freeze things in your jars (which I highly recommend). Without the straight sides, you have to be much more careful about how full you fill your jars as the "shoulders" have a tendancy to break when the liquid expands during freezing.
I have a few minimum criteria for what makes a good produce bag:
- 100% Cotton - If you're avoiding single-use plastic, I recommend avoiding reusable plastic as much as possible too. Plus polyester bags shed micro-plastics when you wash them and are adding to the oceans plastic crisis.
- Tare Weight - this is less of a big deal because the bags are quite light, but most reusable produce bags come with a tare weight printed on them so the grocery store cashier can subtract the weight of the bag when weighing your produce.
MESH REUSABLE BAG
A Life Less Throwaway is a fantastic book about how to make better choices when bringing stuff into your life. Tara Burton is a reformed marketer and does a great job demonstrating how good marketing can cloud your judgement and entice you into buying something that doesn't fit your life, values, or priorities. A Life Less Throwaway contains great tools to help you discover you true style. For example, there is an entire chapter devoted to helping you identify the patterns and colors that have always brought you joy and will continue to do so for many years to come. This helps the reader learn to choose furniture and clothing in patterns and colors that match your classic style rather than the trendy pattern of the day which will feel outdated in a few months. A Life Less Throwaway also reminds readers of the nearly lost customer service model of the lifetime gaurantee and repair service. This book will help you identify with products and brands are designed to last for decades and to be repaired. In addition to this book, I highly recommend referencing buymeonce.com when making any new purchases.
Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More is the book that first inspired me to create a capsule wardrobe and live with only 30 items in my closet for each season. Courtney Carver does an amazing job at explaining how less choice in your closet gives you more energy, time and brainpower to focus on the more important things in your life.
Brave Not Perfect is the driving inspiration behind my celebration of failure every Friday. Reshma Saujani does an amazing job explaining why so many of us, especially us women, believe we have to be perfect. She has inspired me to look for my failures, drag them out into the open, share them with others to give the failure less power and shame, because then I can learn and grow and be a better person. Just like zero waste is not achievable and must be enjoyed for the journey not the destination... perfect is a similarly unattainable and dangerous goal.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson is THE modern resource for people wanting to live a waste free life. I recommend this for beginners and incorporate many of her concepts into my workshops and presentations.