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    The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Zero Waste Shopping in Philly

    It’s a common knowledge that U.S. generates tons of garbage daily. In fact, Americans throw away enough garbage every day to fill 63,000 garbage trucks, which if lined up end-to-end for an entire year would stretch half way to the moon.

    Now, take a look into your trash can. If you mostly see food packaging and food scraps…not good.

    There’s an easy fix to this, and it’s called a zero waste lifestyle. Today, I’ll share my tips on how to avoid this kind of garbage – and hence – reduce the amount of your trash that ends up in the landfill.

    The Zero Waste Shopping essentials

    Zero Waste shopping requires some preparation and a little investment. You’ll need:

    • Reusable grocery bag. It’s no surprise that plastic bags are enormous harm to our environment. It’s easy to make the switch to reusable bags. Just be sure to stash a few where you’ll remember to take them before shopping.
    • Cotton/Hemp Muslin Bags. These are great for produce, nuts, beans, grains, etc. You can find them on Amazon.com or DIY.
    • Glass/Stainless Steel containers. They work best for meat, seafood and poultry by keeping food fresh.

    glass jar


    • Shopping list. Having a shopping list is very important as you have to plan what types of containers you need to bring with you. Plus, buying only the essential products on your list prevents you from overspending.

    5 tips to shop zero waste in philly

    There are more than enough places in Philadelphia where you can shop Zero Waste, you just have to start making better choices.

    1. First and foremost, go super local. The number of farmers markets in Philadelphia where you can shop package-free goods all year round is impressive so take advantageYou won’t need as much packaging and can pick and choose your fav veggies.

    2. Ask to use your own containers behind the counters. For those who prefer convenient shopping in a grocery store, don’t panic! Fortunately, most of them have deli counters where you can request package-free meat, poultry and seafood (Don’t forget to give the cashier your empty jar beforehand so they can put it on the scale and zero it out, this way you aren’t spending the extra for the weight of the container).

    byo jars
    Using BYO jars at Reading terminal market, L. Halteman Family Meats.

    3. The same goes for the produce: Just avoid packaged fruits and vegetables (use the muslin bags instead of plastic ones).

    fruit stand philadelphia

    4. Buy pre-made items in glass containers like pasta sauces, salad dressings, pickles, peanut butter and jelly. You’ll have the peace of mind that no harmful chemicals will end up in your food and you can always recycle/upcycle them.

    wholesome dairy farms yogurt

    5. Shop in bulk: For rice, grains, flours, pasta, beans, cereals, nut butters, sweeteners, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and spices. Shopping in bulk is awesome because there’s much less packaging. Besides, it’s cheaper because you don’t pay for the popular labels and you can buy as much or as little as you want.

    bulk spices philadelphia

    Where you can find bulk departments in Philadelphia

     (Just bring those muslin bags.)

    • Essene Market (719 S 4th St)
    • Mariposa Food Co-op (4824 Baltimore Ave)
    • Weavers Way Mt. Airy (559 Carpenter Lane)
    • Whole Foods Market (2001 Pennsylvania Ave, 929 South St)

    Zero Waste grocery shopping might sound too extreme and time-consuming at first. Trust me, it’s not! Everyone can get used to it. Just think about all the benefits it has for our beautiful planet and your personal health!

    Readers, what zero waste tips do you have? Tell us in the comments.

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    Valeria Frolova

    About Valeria Frolova

    Valeria grew up in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and moved to Philadelphia in Summer 2014 to study Architecture at Temple University. She first discovered her passion for sustainability in middle school whilst researching how to reduce humanity’s negative impact on the environment, continuing the passion through a Sustainable Design course. Valeria is challenging herself to adopt a zero waste lifestyle and inspire others.

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