How to adapt a zero waste lifestyle to our urban regular shops?

By adopting a lifestyle without waste, you certainly did not suspect the amount of difficulties you would encounter trying to reduce the purchase of packed products. They are simply everywhere!
In Switzerland, it is very difficult to find a shop which does not offer prepacked products only and we regret to see the sellers rushing to plastic or paper bags to deliver the products at the farmers market!

Here are a few tricks you may apply to the regular urban shops and it works! (most of the time!):

Bread

To reduce round trips to the bakery, you can buy all your baguettes for the week at one time. You can ask to the seller to place them in a big pillowcase dedicated to the purchase of your bread. The first time he might find it strange but from the second week he will recognize you and will certainly be amused by your bag. Thus it is necessary to refuse the paper proposed around every bread or baguette. In quite honesty, this paper is not of any use! Once home, place your bread in the freezer. Every morning, put your bread 10-15min in the oven (not preheated!) and enjoy a good fresh baguette for breakfast! Isn’t life so beautiful?

You have a piece of bread which hardens in your cupboard? Reduce it in powder with a chopper and use as breadcrumbs!

Meat, fish

Although the Zero Waste lifestyle often leads to reduce the consumption of meat, you may still wish to cook a good bolognese sauce with beef or to prepare a tasty Indian chicken curry! Because meats, poultry and fishes are sold packed under plastic in supermarkets, why not to go to the butcher’s shop right on the corner? Just like the baker, his first reaction is maybe going to make you uncomfortable next to the other customers the first time, but weeks after weeks, he will recognize you and will serve you as you wish (and even with the smile! Yes, yes, we have tried!).

 

At the butcher, just ask that every product is placed in a bowl which you will bring with you: either a reclosable glass jar, or a plastic box (as tupperware). Be careful however, it is true that unless freezing the meat, it is necessary to consume it within the next three days if preserved in the refrigerator.

Fruits and vegetables

Two scenarios for the purchase of fruits and vegetables in town: either, you go to the farmers market and enjoy the warm atmosphere, the sense the humor of the truck farmers and the good smells of products, or you go to the supermarket.
In both cases, arm yourselves with laundry nets! At the market, brandish your net to the seller even before indicating the vegetables which you wish to buy. Explain in two words that you do not need the usual plastic bag, since you are already equipped! Build the habit of visiting the same truck farmers weeks after weeks. Over time, they will appreciate your approach and will recognize you with your nets over time!

At the supermarket, indeed you won’t enjoy the human contact as much, but never mind, you may also use your nets and weigh vegetables as if you would be using the proposed plastic bags. You just have then to stick the label which goes out of the balance on your net and to go to the cash register. It is even less binding with the system of automatic pay station! However, there are more often fruits and prepacked vegetables in supermarkets and thus fewer choices to adapt your lifestyle without waste.

Eggs

Open your eyes! At the farmers market and in some supermarkets, eggs are sold per unit. Keep the cardboard box of eggs recently emptied and reuse it every time to fill it with fresh eggs! Useless to throw it away or to recycle it every time isn’t it?

Milk

Favor the purchase of milk in recyclable bottles (PET dairy products) in case you have no possibility of filling your glass bottles. We recently discovered that Manor in Geneva proposes a distributor of bulk milk! Make sure however to consume it within the next three days once your bottle filled in with milk at the funny refrigerator!
We encourage you to always refuse receipts (even to the market) and to explain your initiative if your behavior is considered “strange” by the other customers:
As members of the ZeroWaste community, we care for our planet and we consider useless to overload it with waste while small efforts can largely help its protection.

Bring your nets, jars and boxes! Even in town, even without unpackaged grocery’s shop or of distributor of bulk in the area, we can make efforts to make a difference!