Observations at the Grocery Store

Just going grocery shopping can be interesting when you want to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I was shopping the other day and just marveling at some of the wasteful stuff there.

I like buying from my local Henry’s as they have a good selection of organic foods, although not exclusively organic. But I especially like the bulk bins. I could wish for a choice between paper and plastic bags at the bins, but let’s face it… it’s much harder to keep a paper bag from leaking small stuff like flour, so I understand the choice. Then there’s the problem of trying to have the paper bags available neatly rather than torn and all over the floor.

But I don’t shop there exclusively. It was at the other grocery store I go to that I really got to thinking about some of the waste.

Like putting gallon milk bottles into plastic bags. Individually. It’s a problem than can be avoided by those who think to tell the clerk to not put it into the bag, or by having your own reusable cloth bags, but few do.

Hey, folks, these things have handles! If only one’s going into the bag, what’s the point of putting it into a bag in the first place?

Then there are the 3 pound bags of apples. Once again, just watch and they’ll put those into their own little bag. Never mind that the plastic bags they use on these are pretty heavy duty. They bag them anyhow.

I’m steadily learning to avoid many of the convenience foods. Frankly I don’t like most of them all that well anyhow. I can mix up my own stuff fairly well and for less money. I’m pretty sure there’s less packaging involved too. Hard to tell when you’re mixing things up from several containers but since generally each ingredient can be used in multiple recipes there’s a pretty good chance there.

The worst of the convenience foods, of course, are the single serving ones. Frozen dinners, individually wrapped snacks and similar have far more packaging to dispose of. Even if the entire package is recyclable it makes more sense to buy in larger packages whenever possible. It’s that little part of the equation called “reduce.”

When I think about the environment, I want to buy glass. It recycles well. When I think about my kids handling the products, I want to buy plastic, in case they drop it. It’s a definite balancing act, but so many things these days don’t give you a lot of options.

Going to the grocery store isn’t something you can give up. But you can think as you shop and even as the clerk checks your purchases out for you.

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One reply

  1. HippieMommy says:


    Its only been the past few months that I’ve been actively noticing the ridiculous amounts of packaging and especially plastic bags that are used in our culture. The other day I went to the thrift store and scored several great canvas bags to add to my cloth bag collection. The cashier actually put my bags in a bag :/

    We buy a lot of bulk, and I would love an alternative to the plastic bags. We make our own flour, so most of the things we buy from the bulk section are wheat berries, oatmeal, and similarly textured things. I was wondering if maybe something like the produce bags that ecobags sells would work.

    Oh, and if you eat a lot of something and want to buy bulk but avoid the plastic, you can also buy a full or half bag from the store. I buy our wheat berries in the 50lb paper bags that the store gets them in 🙂

    You have a great blog! I hope you’re having a wonderful day 🙂

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