Organization is the name of the game when it comes to conquering the grocery stores plastic-free!  After too many times of getting to the store and not having what I needed, I decided to create a small shopping kit with all of the essentials, which is always kept in my car so I'm never without them.  If I lived in the states (where I'm from), or anywhere that had more bulk and deli items available, the kit would definitely include more metal tins like the one shown (much lighter than glass mason jars), but so far I usually only need one or two.

So what's in my shopping kit?  Let's take a look...

1.  Reusable Produce Bags:  We are all too familiar with those pesky thin plastic bags, used to carry and transport fruit, veg, dairy and frozen items, only to be thrown away pretty much the minute you get home.  These are one of the easiest things to find a reusable alternative for and the disposable kind is just unnecessary, plain and simple.  If you're crafty, you could make small bags from old pillowcases or fabric pieces found around the house, or if you're like me and haven't sewn since junior high, you might rather prefer to buy some like the ones I use.  (we sell several different bags of various sizes here at PFHK which you can view HERE).  I use these two shown in the picture to the right: 2 large size net cotton bags and 2 medium size plain cotton bags. I find these 4 bags cover all of my needs.  And if there ever is a bulk shop in Sai Kung, the plain ones will work brilliantly for seed, nuts, pasta, oats, etc!

2.  Beeswax Wrap:  If your family likes cheese and you're trying to avoid the plastic waste it's usually wrapped in, simply bring your beeswax wraps along with you and start buying your cheese from the deli or favorite cheese shop.  Beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton, jojoba oil and tree resin and can be used for up to one year or longer, assuming you care for it properly (wash in cold water only).  It's really quite simple for the shop assistants to use and every deli worker in HK that I've ever asked here in HK has been completely okay with it.  Here at PFHK we're huge fans of the Abeego wraps, which you can find on our online store HERE or if you're feeling crafty again, there are tons of videos online giving tutorials on how to make your own!

3.  Takeaway Tins for Meat or Other Prepared Foods: I know eating meat isn't very cool to a lot of eco-friendly folk, but my family still does eat some and we try to do it as consciously as possible: organic, grass-fed and fresh.  For example, today I used this tin to buy grass-fed mince for our favorite lasagna.  It's the perfect size for something like this and the deli assistant was more than happy to oblige (thank you Wellcome!).  I would also use these tins for any prepared foods, like pasta or veggie dishes from the deli counter, to bring them home in as well.  (You can see our entire food storage line HERE)  Depending on what you will be buying, you may need bigger ones or several more.  I would suggest always keeping tins/jars packed in your kit so you're never without them.  Mine are always in the boot with everything else!

4.  Reusable Grocery Bags: Personally I think disposable plastic bags should be made illegal.  There's nothing really that beneficial about them, except for the jobs they create for people to produce them, but aside from that I can't really think of anything else.  Cloth bags work great for me, and if you ever forget them, you can usually find a cardboard box at the grocery store to use instead.  For my usual shopping run, I've found that 3-4 bags is usually enough.

5.  One Large Gusseted Bag:  I like to use a bag like this one which holds my entire shopping kit and can also be used to carry food home in.  It's thick canvas material and has a large gusseted panel on the bottom.  This makes it very durable, sturdy and will stand upright while being stored in my car.  It's also great to use at checkout for any glass jars you may be purchasing, like pasta sauce or juice, as these more fragile items won't fall over as easily. 

Living life more sustainably just takes a little bit more preparation and thoughtfulness, but once you find what works for you and your family and get these new habits organized and running smoothly, it will just become the new norm.  And the world will be a happier place! 

September 03, 2017 — Lisa Odell

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