Today’s post is a guest post from Nathalie Heyden. Nathalie Heyden is a student at the University of Waterloo, who is currently completing a co-op placement here with our team. Nathalie will be writing about sustainability, waste & recycling, compost & so much more. We invite you to read along and follow her on this exciting journey with our team. This post is the first in a two-part series about how waste reduction and waste diversion can play a crucial way in the way we grocery shop. Stay tuned for the second part of this series, to be published here next week.
Your “Waste Budget”
Does hearing the words “Your Waste Budget” make you say: “My what?” You’re not alone. A Waste Budget means that instead of exclusively focusing your Sunday grocery shopping on low prices, you shop with the waste-factor of your products in mind. To limit household waste, you need to be mindful of what you bring into your home in the first place. This includes what sort of packaging your products come in, and how much food you are consuming compared to how much you actually buy.
The Importance of Bulk Stores
Before we dive-in, I want to start by stating that not all foods stores are created equal in terms of waste production. If you are truly looking to go waste-free, I would highly recommend starting to shop at bulk-food stores. Bulk-food stores sell a large selection of dry goods including (but not limited to) pastas, nuts, spices and dried fruits. At bulk-food stores, you are able to bring your reusable containers from home to fill up, and you can buy the exact amount of a product you need.
Bulk Barn has released its reusable container program where you can bring your own containers – gone are the days of plastic bags and locating a pencil… Well, the pencil issue is unresolved (maybe in 2019 we will remember to bring our own?). Not only can you reduce plastic waste, you can also save money by browsing their weekly coupons.
There is a new category of groceries stores popping up around Canada. These are Zero Waste grocery stores. For these stores, you bring your own bags and containers, and the products you buy do not contain wasteful packaging.
Now… Back to navigating our ‘typical’ grocery store. Someone once told me that the healthiest way to shop, is to shop around the perimeter of the store. The perimeter of the store contains all of your fresh items including produce, breads, and refrigerated goods. If your grocery store has a bulk section, it too will be along the perimeter (usually near the bread section). I would encourage you to focus your shopping around the perimeter this week, as fresh products often contain less packaging (and less preservatives).
How Often Should I Shop?
There are four types of shoppers that I know: those who have specific days to shop, those who shop when they run out of food, those who shop per nightly recipe and those who have no sweet clue when the shopping is done, they just know that the fridge refills itself every so often. No matter which one of these shoppers you are, this week I want you to aim to go to the grocery store at least twice a week. Why? This way, you will not over-buy during your once-a-week Sunday outing. Did you know that Canadian households waste on average $1,700 yearly on avoidable organic waste? If we shop more often, we are less likely to over-estimate how much we are going to eat in a week, and instead we will finish what we have in the fridge and then go back for more.
Three goals I’d encourage you to set for your shopping routine this week:
- Try incorporating reusable containers programs
- Reduce browsing the package-heavy center section of the grocery store
- Add an extra grocery shopping day to reduce food waste