How to shop “zero waste” without feeling like a weirdo
After making a decision to shop with less plastic almost a year ago (7 days of zero waste), I prepared and packed a bunch of reusable bags and jars and headed out on my first zero waste shopping adventure. Don’t forget I live in a very small mountain town. I felt great and determined to not buy any plastic. After few minutes in the shop, I slowly felt awkwardness kicking in while I was standing next to the produce gathering courage to take out my reusable bag out of my backpack. I started thinking if I should just take the plastic bags that were standing next to me. It would definitely make me less weird and I can always reuse them later, right? Well, No. I started thinking why I want to this in the first place and decided to not to care and took out my cotton bags. I packed my fruits and veggies in the same bags and stuck the stickers all over the bag.
I realized if I act like this is something completely normal, others might think “that´s a good idea” or “why am I packing bananas in a plastic bag?”.
The cashier will not care as long as you keep you cool game on. Some of them thought that the bag is actually just my “purse” before they realized the bag has tomatoes in it. So just show them what´s in the bag and explain what´s in and that you´ve put stickers on the outside. Believe me, they will be OK with it.
Even on our small village on island Hvar (Croatia) I came to our only and very small shop and said: “Can I get this bread in here and handed my cotton bag”. She was a bit confused and asked why I don´t wanna take the plastic bag. It´s free anyways. I explained that there is too much plastic everywhere and that I spend half of my day taking it out of the sea. She agreed and packed the bread in my cotton bag. Next time she didn´t even asked, she took the bread and waited for me to give her the cotton bag to put it in. Same happened on the market. Just make it fun and explain why you hate plastic.
“For counter items, simply ask the counter associate to fill your jar with your chosen product (the price sticker goes onto the jar and can be easily removed later). Some ask if your jar is clean, others ask why you’re doing this. After you’ve gone to the same store and talked to the same associates for consecutive weeks (same day of the week), they’ll stop asking questions and you’ll get through shopping faster. Interesting fact: To this day, the Safeway cheese counter has never questioned my jars.” Bea Johnson
Grab some cotton bags, clean jars, baskets and imagine you are back in the pre-plastic grandma time. It does help if our bags are clean and nice. If you are going to put a dirty old bag with holes on the cashiers desk, they might be concerned and you might get some strange looks. Zero waste shopping is a process, research and a lot of improvising. Challenges are different in every city or shop. And if you have a bulk shop close to you, you should know that I´m very jealous.
So don´t be embarrassed. You are doing a good thing, you are doing what you believe in. And if anybody is a weirdo, it´s the people that pack one tomato, 2 carrots in a separate plastic bags. Make people think. Show them they don´t need to use the plastic bags.