Avoid buying single-serving packages
Pick the larger containers instead. If you’re worried about freshness, store in an airtight container when you get home.
Vermont is home to so many great farmers and farmers markets. When possible, shopping for whole foods at farmers markets is a great way to support your neighbors while reducing food packaging.
Keep reusable bags handy
If you have trouble remembering to bring bags to the store, try keeping stashes of them in your car, by the front door, in your office, and anywhere else they might come in handy. Eventually it will become a habit.
Buy in bulk
It eliminates packaging, lets you control the amount that you’re buying, and saves you money. Bring bags or containers for measuring out what you need. Many stores have a bulk section for spices, dried nuts, fruit, pasta, flours, sugars, grains & beans. If you’re looking for a market with a bulk section near you, check out this guide: https://www.litterless.com/wheretoshop. If none of the stores near you have a bulk section, call them (or their headquarters) and ask what their plans are to install one
Bring cotton/muslin bags for produce
Not only will this allow you to avoid the single-use plastic (or “compostable”) bags at the store itself, but then you can put it straight into the fridge when you get home and the cotton bags will keep your produce fresh much longer than the bags from the store will
in the kitchen
Store your veggies in muslin bags
Cotton bags like these allow the veggies to “breathe” as they release gasses, preventing them from rotting as quickly as they would in a plastic bag that traps their vapors in. The cotton will also protect them from getting too cold in the crisper drawers, unlike compostable produce bags at the store.
Ditch paper towels for Swedish dishclothes
Paper towels are extremely resource-intensive. They can’t be recycled because the fibers in them are usually too short to be used again (and they’re usually contaminated with food or grease anyway). If they’re processed with bleach and chemicals (i.e. any that are white) or have been soiled by human waste, bodily fluids, or biosolids, they shouldn’t be composted. When they end up in the landfill with the trash, they release methane.
Swedish dishcloths are biodegradable, can last 200 washes in the washing machine or dishwasher, and are way more durable and absorbent than paper towels. They air dry quickly, so they aren’t prone to collecting bacteria and germs the way that sponges do. They start at about ~$2 per cloth from a variety of sellers. If you wash it 4 times a week (which is probably more than you need to for standard wiping up), that comes out to ~$2/per year per towel.
Eliminate plastic wrap
Beeswax is an excellent alternative for keeping oxygen away from food in most cases. Instead of covering leftovers in bowls in plastic wrap, use beeswax or put a plate on top of the bowl – it’s also a great space saver in the fridge because it’ll be more stackable.
Eliminate single use plastic bags
Reuse old clothes as cleaning rags
This will give your old textiles, especially those that are not eligible for donation (because of age, stains, etc.), a new life while eliminating the need for plastic sponges.
Reuse aluminium foil
As long as it’s relatively clean, aluminum foil can be reused. Once you’re ready to get rid of it, ball it up into a ball at least 2″ in diameter and put it in your blue bin recycling.