Contain It

Buying in bulk is a great solution to shopping plastic-free, but only if you bring your own containers.  For this, you must plan ahead.  I collected the empty containers I could find in my kitchen (glass jars and an old animal cracker tin) and brought them to Sunflower Farmer’s Market along with my canvas shopping bags.  Before shopping, I went to the cashier and had her weigh each container and mark the weights down.  I then headed to the bulk food section of the store and filled my containers.  I wasn’t sure where to mark down the food codes, so I kept a list in a small notebook.  When it was time to pay for my groceries, the cashier wasn’t quite sure how to ring in my bulk items.  It took a while to figure out, but he was extremely patient, as was the lady behind me in line.  Since the cashier had to enter my items in manually, I was told it would have gone faster if I had written down the price for each item instead of just the code.  I’m thinking that if more people used their own containers to buy bulk, the store would become more efficient at the process.

I have to thank the guys in the deli, especially Kyle, for their patience with me.  I was buying cheese, but requested no plastic packaging.  After hunting down a piece of tape, they carefully wrapped the cheese in small pieces of tissue paper.  They were more than happy to help me in my plastic-free challenge.  They told me that next time, I could bring my own containers for deli purchases.  I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of that in the first place.  The chicken brats I bought were wrapped in wax paper, which I tossed into my compost bin later on (some butchers use plastic lined paper instead of wax paper, so be sure to ask).

After doing my bulk shopping, I realized that I needed more containers for the next time I get groceries.  I went to the ARC thrift store and bought some mason jars at 79 cents each.  Now, I’ll be prepared for next week’s shopping.

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