Saturday, January 6, 2018

How to buy Fruit and Vegetables Zero Waste

I thought it would be quite fitting to kick off the new year's Zero Waste posts with shopping for fruit and vegetables. Whether your new year resolution is to get healthier or not, chances are that you could do with some fruit and veg after the Christmas shenanigans! Fruit and Veg now contains a large part of my weekly shop and so I make sure that I buy it package free as otherwise, it would contribute to quite a lot of unrecyclable trash.
Once upon a time, I used to buy produce whether it was wrapped in plastic or not. I would get annoyed when I saw a broccoli head wrapped in plastic. Nowadays I am still annoyed at the absolute pointlessness of it but the difference is that I am not buying it anymore. I will shop in local greengrocers where 9 times out of 10 everything is unpackaged. The fruit and vegetables are arranged beautifully, almost like a piece of art. I refuse the single-use plastic bags that are available and instead bring my own bags. It is really that easy!

      Beautifully displayed and package free vegetables- it makes me excited about cooking with veg! 

You need:
Cotton produce bags

 I have a set of about 20 of these bags in different sizes. They are reusable and can be washed in a washing machine. The ones that I have are made of very light organic cotton and have a drawstring closure. I use them instead of whatever is available in the shop (usually plastic). Because the bags are so light (they weigh a few grams) I don’t really bother taring them beforehand. If your bags are made from a heavier fabric, I would recommend writing the weight on each bag with a permanent marker pen. That way you can tell the cashier the exact amount that they need to subtract from the filled bag. I got mine brand new from a shop in Belgium by my sister (she knows me well!). You can buy them online easily from shops like Etsy where they are often handmade by small businesses. If you have handy sewing skills, you can also make your own from old bed sheets or any other fabric. I usually only ever put in cotton bags things like mushrooms, salad, spinach, tomatoes and potatoes. With bigger items like the aforementioned broccoli, I don’t bother and I just pop it into my cotton tote.

      In local shops you can often find weird and wonderful produce, like these tiny aubergines! 

These bags are definitely one of the most useful items in my zero waste shopping toolbox. I have some in my handbag/rucksack if I ever need to buy something during the day, they always come in handy for something!

      The fruit is often cheaper contrary to what many people think - like these pomegranates for 45p!  

This is one of the easiest changes that you can do which has a big impact on the amount of trash that you produce. I promise- once you start to get your broccoli without plastic, you will never want to go back! In Sheffield, we are really lucky to have greengrocers on every corner (way cheaper than most supermarkets) so I have a few shops which I go to. If you have no local shops around and you are reliant on supermarkets, opt for things that are loose. So rather than buying a 1kg pack of onions which are sealed in a plastic bag, buy loose ones and pop them in your bag. If you are buying single items like an avocado, it doesn’t even need to go in a separate bag as the thick skin protects it from damage. If you really have no choice and only packaged fruit and veg are available to you, take advice from ex-environment minister Ben Bradshaw and leave all unnecessary packaging at supermarket checkouts. Perhaps if the shops have to deal with all the waste that they sell, they might come up with better solutions in the first place.



  1. Love your Blog. In fact so inspired I have bought my son some Tiffin tins for his birthday this week ,so he can ditch the plastic containers.

  2. Love the blog. I have bought my son tiffin tins to replace his plastic containers. Looking forward to your next post

  3. Hi Jill thats brilliant. I love my tiffin :) it is so useful and over time saves so many plastic containers!

  4. Its time to start changing the world, inspired a lot by this post.