Grocery Shop with Reducing and Recycling in Mind February 4, 2021 Email According to the EPA, plastic containers and packaging make up almost 30 percent of garbage nationally. To cut down on food packaging waste, keep these tips in mind while grocery shopping. Check the Recycling Guide You are more empowered to make conscious decisions at the grocery store when you know the recycling feasibility of different materials. Check out our Recycling Guide for information on how to dispose of food packaging and hundreds of other items. Our guide works great on smartphones so you can quickly pull it up while you are out shopping. Be Prepared Bring your own alternatives to replace single-use plastics. You can make a big impact by packing your own grocery and produce bags. The average American family currently takes home about 1,500 bags a year and uses each for only 12 minutes. To cut back, you can pack reusable totes and produce bags or simply reuse the plastic bags from the last time you went shopping. Buy in Bulk, When Possible Items such as grains, beans and nuts can typically be bought in bulk and occasionally, container-free. This allows you to avoid packaging waste, can save you money, and help you purchase the exact amount you need (consequently reducing food waste). Here are some items convenient to buy in bulk. Call ahead to make sure the store you are going to is doing bulk sales and allowing customers to bring containers in during the pandemic. Get Your Hands Dirty Think about packaged foods you could make yourself at home. Find ideas and recipes online to make staples such as bread and crackers, condiments and salad dressings, or nut butters and milks. Staples made at home give you the option of avoiding additives and preservatives and allow for greater flexibility in making and freezing large batches. Be Intentional with Your Plastic Purchases It is difficult — if not impossible — to ditch plastic and buy only items in sustainable packaging. Do not get discouraged. Instead be conscious and intentional about your purchases. Keep an eye out for the items you need packaged in more sustainable materials like glass, tin, and aluminum. And continue reducing, reusing, and recycling packaging when you can!