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Farmers Almanac
The 2016 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

8 Simple Ways to Reduce Garbage When Shopping

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8 Simple Ways to Reduce Garbage When Shopping

1. Bring reusable bags. This one is of the easiest ways to reduce trash, but if you’re like many, you may forget to put the bags back in the car. So once you’re done unloading groceries, be sure to place the bags back into the car you normally take shopping. Use these bags on all shopping trips–not just the grocery store. Reuse all bags even if some are plastic until you have enough canvas ones.

2. Skip produce bags. Do your bananas really need to be placed into a plastic bag? If you’re buying fruit that can be easily bruised, use a mesh bag that you can use over and over again. There are mesh bags you can purchase at most dollar stores and some grocery stores sell them. Or bring back old produce bags and reuse them.

3. Think bulk. Ever consider the amount of packaging that some of the products you buy come in? And then the waste? Ever buy plastic boxes that conveniently hold fruit and vegetables? Sure, they keep the produce safe but in many areas the plastic used for these is not recyclable. Instead, why not buy fresh from the farm and bring your own bag? Buy local eggs and use your cartons over again.  Shop at the bakery and bring a cloth bag or a reusable bag for your bread. Some newer grocery stores are offering more bulk products — bring your own jars and containers and fill them up.

4. Before you buy, ask yourself  — do you really need it? Sometimes the idea of buying something at a great price isn’t such a great deal for the earth or the growing amount of trash we produce.

5. Don’t buy  single-serving items, which require more packaging per unit. Overpackaged offenders include frozen foods and lunch and snack items. Instead repackage them yourself in containers or baggies you can reuse.

6. Avoid disposable goods, including razors, lighters, and plastic plates. Use the real stuff including rechargeable batteries.

7. Look for multipurpose cleaners instead of buying one for each kind of surface. Or learn how to make your own cleaning items rather than buying them. We have a lot of great ideas on our site!

8. Remember recycling does work, as does composting, reusing, and a new R — REFUSE. Refuse to buy items that are over-packaged, or use that horribly earth un-friendly product, Styrofoam. Every little bit helps.

Do you have any tips that help make shopping less trashy? Do share your tips and ideas here.


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6 comments

1 Lemongrass { 04.20.16 at 7:20 pm }

used pillow cases that I buy from the thrift shops make great shopping bags. If I need a smaller bag, I cut them in half and sew the sides.
good idea, Mike.

2 Marie Cavins { 04.20.16 at 11:10 am }

I save paper and cardboard for recycling. I give it to Meals on Wheels. They sell it to recycling companies and the money from that helps provide more meals. Remember more than newspapers can be recycled. I recycle junk mail (I make sure name, address, and any identifying information is removed). Also, magazines, cereal or other paper food contains, and paper towel rolls. Just make sure they are clean. This saves a lot from our landfills. I live alone and I save a lot of paper, I can only imagine how much a family could save.

3 Belinda { 04.20.16 at 8:57 am }

I sew the bottom of old tee shirts or tank tops together and use them as sacks. V-necks allow a larger opening for placing items inside. Sleeveless shirts make perfect handles for carrying the sack. These home made sacks can also be used for storage. I hang them on hangers and load them with cleaning cloths, dirty laundry, etc. The kids use them for toys or to put their pajamas in when going to grandma’s for the night.

4 Elaine { 04.20.16 at 8:40 am }

I have been making bags out of cotton material to take to the farmer’s markets. You can also get inexpensive towels and sew up the sides to make a bag. I would love to take them to the grocery store, but I’m not sure it would be appreciated.

5 Mike Lieberman { 04.19.11 at 11:56 am }

When I go to the farmers market I bring containers to put berries or other loose items in and give the cartons back to the vendors to use again.

6 Sherrye { 04.19.11 at 8:35 am }

The Farmer’s Market puts produce in paper sacks. We use these in addition to kindling as starter for the wood stove in winter.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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