How to Reduce Waste While Grocery Shopping During the Pandemic

How to Reduce Waste While Grocery Shopping During the Pandemic

Of course, grocery shopping is a somewhat different experience during the pandemic. First and foremost, it is important to stay safe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that we should:
  • Keep a safe physical distance of at least one meter from all other shoppers and staff while queuing, before entering the store and while inside.
  • If a trolley or basket is used, sanitize the handle before and after use.
  • Sanitize hands before entering the store.
  • Practice good coughing or sneezing etiquette inside the store.
  • Don't touch your mouth, nose, or eyes while shopping.
  • Minimize direct hand contact with food using available tongs/ serving utensils.
  • Where possible, use contactless payment.

But keeping ourselves and others safe from the health threats of Covid-19 is not the only consideration when grocery shopping during the pandemic. We should not forget that we also face a number of other threats. The climate crisis and the problems of waste are two issues we should always keep at the forefront of our minds.

To make sure we are part of the solution and not part of the problem, we need to find ways to reduce waste while grocery shopping during the pandemic. Here are some tips:


Take PPE Home With You – Don't Litter!


Unfortunately, the tidal wave of personal protective equipment that has inundated our societies has led to a dramatic increase in plastic waste. Grocery store car parks etc. are sadly littered with discarded gloves and other items, as inconsiderate shoppers take a short-sighted approach. If you do wear gloves, make sure you take them home with you. But for the planet and to avoid cross-contamination, it is easier to forgo gloves and sanitize your hands carefully before you enter, and again after leaving the store.


Reduce the Frequency of Your Shops and How Much You Must Buy


Of course, grocery shopping can be a chore. That, however, is just one of the reasons to reduce the frequency of your shops. Shopping less also means wasting less, which is great news for the planet and your pocket.


A man looking into his list for grocery shopping


Reducing your grocery needs is one important way to reduce waste. One of the best ways to reduce your shopping list is to grow as much of your own food at home as possible. Of course, you should always also make sure that you make the most of all the produce you grow or buy. Eat everything, make use of all parts of plants, and find innovative ways to preserve food, and make the most of leftovers.

Being very organized will also help you reduce the frequency of your shops. Keep a well-ordered pantry, and make sure you know exactly what you already have in, and make a note when you are running low of something. Being very organized can help you reduce overconsumption and prevent waste.


Reduce The Amount of Time You Need to Spend in the Store


At all times, but especially now, during the pandemic, it is also a good idea to be organized when it comes to the shopping expedition itself. Always shop with a list, and stick to it. This won't only allow you to reduce your exposure and get in and out of the store quickly. It will also allow you to avoid impulse purchases, and reduce waste (both packaging waste, and food waste generated when you over-buy).


Local farmers market with fruits and vegetables


Support Small Stores and Farmer's Markets


Even when we do grow at least some of our own food, it is likely that most of us will still need to make additional grocery purchases. But that does not mean that you need to shop at supermarkets or larger grocery stores. To reduce waste in all its forms, it is a great idea to shop at wholefood stores and farmer's markets. It is safe to do so during the pandemic, as long as you still follow the guidelines mentioned above, and wash your produce thoroughly in water once you get home. Opting for fresh, seasonal, local, organic produce is still the best policy for anyone who wants to work towards a zero-waste lifestyle.


Keep Using Reusable Bags Etc – Just Wash Them Well Between Uses


There has been a sharp uptick in the use of single-use plastics during the pandemic. But it is important to remember that it is no less safe to use a reusable container or bag than it is to handle commercial single-use packaging in a store. Some shops refuse to accept reusable bags and containers right now. If you can – avoid them. Shop where you are allowed to stick to your zero waste principles. The virus won't last as long on fabrics as on plastics and hard surfaces, so consider using a sustainable organic cotton or hemp bag. And just put it in the washing machine between uses to keep it safe and clean.



Shopping carrots inside Net Zero reusable bag


These are just a few ways to reduce waste while grocery shopping during the pandemic. Keep refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling and you should not go too far wrong.

Stay safe, Net Zero fam!

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