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A Step-by-Step Guide To Zero Waste Shopping

When you go into a grocery store, you're likely armed with a list of must-have items – milk, bread, eggs, cheese, etcetera. One thing that may not be on that list is "Consider the waste I'm creating." But if it were, you'd probably be pretty surprised at just how much waste you do create during your grocery trip. For example, think of the amount of plastic bags involved. There are plastic bags for produce, plastic containers for bulk items, plastic packaging for processed and portioned foods, and plastic bags for transporting your groceries home. Luckily, there is a solution – zero waste shopping.

What is A Zero Waste Store and Zero Waste Shopping?

In a zero waste store, instead of being packaged in plastic containers and bags, dry and liquid foods are "packaged" in large, translucent bulk bins that you shop from using refillable, reusable, or eco-friendly bags, containers, or Mason jars you bring yourself or buy from the store.  Most zero waste stores stock solid and liquid edibles (i.e. peanut butter, nuts, pasta, cereal, oil) and inedible bulk items (i.e.shampoo, dish soap, and laundry detergent).

zero waste store

The Time Has Come: 5 Reasons We Should All be Shopping In Zero Waste Stores

If you're on the fence about zero waste shopping and need some help with weighing the pros and cons, here are five reasons to shop zero waste stores:

  • Reason #1: All the excess cardboard and plastic that would usually come home with you is replaced with repurposed containers, glass jars, or paper bags.
  • Reason #2: Less food goes to waste since you can weigh out the exact quantity of ingredients required rather than being forced to buy it in a predetermined portion. 
  • Reason #3: Buying in bulk means you can stock up at zero waste stores, reducing the frequency of shopping trips and the resulting car emissions.
  • Reason #4: Since processed foods are replaced by wholesome, often locally sourced ingredients, zero waste shopping is better for your health (and waistline!). 

Reason #5: It's good for the environment. You'll help stop the Great Pacific Plastic Patch (1.6 million square kilometres of floating plastic trash between Hawaii and California), put trees back in forests, reduce energy consumption, and protect wildlife from rising sea levels and climate change.

What to Expect Inside A Waste Free Store

Upon entering a waste free store for your zero waste shopping, you'll first weigh any empty containers you've brought with you and mark that weight (called the tare weight) somewhere on your container. Next, you'll fill the container with the particular item you plan to buy, noting the product code for the item. Some stores may ask you to weigh your item and print out a label with a barcode before coming to the register. You can always ask the staff at the waste free store whether you need to do this or if they will weigh and label your items at the time of purchase.  At the check-out, the cashier will weigh your jars or bags, add in the product code, and subtract the tare weight you recorded when you came in.

Zero Waste Products To Buy and Enjoy

At The Tare Shop, we make zero waste shopping easy with various zero waste product alternatives to over-packaged food, household, and personal items. Here are a few of our best sellers:

  1. Tare Shop Tumbler: BPA-free, this reusable stainless steel tumbler with screw-on spill prevention acrylic lid features double-walled vacuum insulation to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
  2. Mulberry Deodorant: Complete with a compostable and biodegradable package, this all-natural deodorant is available in six fragrances (Clary Sage, Cucumber & Mint, Green Tea, Orange Blossom & Plum, Patchouli, Unscented)
  3. Big Tote: Our biggest, sturdiest, 100% cotton tote is excellent for carrying zero waste products. 
  4. Original Candles - Circle and Wick: Hand-poured in Halifax, NS, these 100% soy wax candles are phthalate-free, feature a cotton wick, and are available in eight scents. 
  5. Double Edge Razor Blades - 5 pack: For use with a Double-Edge Safety Razor. These Double-Edge Razor Blades are made with Swedish Stainless Steel to guarantee quality and strength. 
  6. Double Edge Safety Razor: Consists of a single blade for a closer and smoother shave. There is a convenient butterfly opening for safe and easy blade change. Provides a comfortable grip so that you can achieve an accurate shave.
Toothbrushes - Brush With Bamboo: 100% made of plant-based materials, including the bristles, handle, wrapper, and box. USDA Certified Bio-based. Green American Certified. Vegan. BPA-Free. Natural and Non-toxic.

Take The First Step and Ask: Is There A Zero Waste Store Near Me?

We'd love to invite you into The Tare Shop for your zero waste shopping needs if you're local to the area. Founded by Kate Pepler in October 2018, with locations in central Halifax and downtown Dartmouth, The Tare Shop aims to reduce barriers and encourage more sustainable living.

If you aren't in the area, a quick search of "zero waste stores near me" on Google should return a list of zero waste store options to explore.

Next Step To Keep in Mind: A Zero Waste Store is A Package Free Store

As mentioned, when zero waste shopping, it's always a good idea to bring your own containers to the zero-waste store with you since everything at the store will be package-free. When preparing to shop at a package-free store, we recommend bringing the following:

  • Glass jars 
  • Metal or glass containers 
  • Cloth produce bags 
  • Cloth shopping bags

As a package-free store, The Tare Shop offers our shoppers various Bags & Storage Containers. Click HERE to see our selection. Our Big Totes, Divided Totes, and Snack Bags are always popular choices! 

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