The recent widespread popularity of Marie Kondo has inspired many people to declutter their homes and be mindful of what they buy, but has the pantry and weekly grocery shop been overlooked?
For those not in the know, the Konmari method encourages people to only keep or buy items that bring joy. It’s one of many decluttering methods, each of which aim to simplify and minimalise, to reduce junk and give every item in your house value and purpose. What has all this got to do with your pantry and groceries? Well, if you want a junk-free, joyful house, have you stopped to consider your groceries and whether they are joyful and junk-free?
Packaging is not beautiful, we don’t tend to keep it after the contents are gone (resulting in a never-ending cycle of rubbish coming and going from our houses), not to mention, single-use items are an environmental issue. Not very joyful. Unfortunately, unnecessary packaging is everywhere, and at your standard supermarket, unpackaged items are hard to come by.
Luckily, there are some alternatives. Bulk food stores, farmers markets, smaller grocery shops and other speciality stores are wonderful places to try waste-free grocery shopping. Farmers markets are generally kid and dog friendly and make a great outing with friends or family. They often have food stalls, local produce and craft, and live music. At bulk food stores you get to scoop and weigh your own items, and for kids and adults alike, the process is surprisingly fun.
If you’re interested in trying to reduce the packaging you bring home, check out this map of bulk food stores, grocers and farmers markets in and near the City of Melville. Also make sure to read the tips for bulk food shopping listed at the end of the article. Want to take things a step further?
For the month of July try to avoid supermarkets and grocery packaging completely (or at least choose packaging that isn’t plastic).
It’s important to remember that after trying junk-free shopping you may decide that there are some things that come in packaging that you can’t live without, and that’s ok. You may find that there are no zero-waste shops close to you, and that the travel is too much. That’s also ok. Ultimately, it’s all about being aware, reducing junk and finding the balance that sparks joy for you.
Have you tried reducing grocery packaging? What are your favourite packaging-free shops? What difficulties or triumphs have you experienced?
Written by Ebonine Lacey (Environmental Education Volunteer)
What you will need for bulk food shopping:
- Containers to put your groceries in – Having a mixture of sizes is helpful eg. smaller ones for things like spices and nuts, and larger ones for pasta and flour. You could even refill some of the packaging you already have eg. shampoo or dish detergent bottles.
- Produce bags – these are light weight reusable bags, often made from netting or mesh, that you can put your fruit and veg into (instead of using plastic bags). You can buy them or make your own from repurposed net curtains.
- Something to carry everything with – eg. backpack, reusable shopping bags, or a cardboard box.
Bulk food shopping process:
- Take all the containers you require plus something to carry them with. If you don’t take enough containers, (or are just passing buy and want to grab something) many bulk stores have paper bags or spare jars that you are welcome to use.
- At the store make sure to tare your container before filling (this involves weighing the empty container on a scale and writing the weight on the container in permanent marker – which means you won’t have to do it again next time! You could also do this at home first.)
- Fill your containers, making sure not to cross contaminate different items.
- Take your items to the counter where they will calculate the cost of the items you have collected.
- Put your containers into a reusable bag, or a cardboard box to carry home.