To be honest, this shopping trip was pretty far from “zero waste.” I’m admittedly using “nearly” very loosely here. The good news is that all of the waste, with the exception of the produce stickers, can be recycled or composted.
I don’t typically shop at Walmart, but when the closest bulk store is 30 minutes away and I have all three kids with me and we just spent the morning at the doctor and we really need some basics for baking and produce for snacks…well, sometimes I end up going to Walmart.
[This is actually the first time such a thing has happened because I try my best to always plan ahead and therefore avoid this problem.]
I don’t even have the time or energy to sort through my varied and complex feelings about Walmart in general. So, I had to do what I could, and I’m happy to report that, at the very least, I didn’t bring very much waste home.
Here’s a breakdown of what I got:
Flour and Sugar
I usually buy these from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or [recently] Fresh Thyme, but I just couldn’t get all the way to one of those stores. But, the good news is that these bags are compostable and I bought the largest bags I have space to store. My biggest bummer is actually that I’m not certain that the sugar is fair trade.
Extra virgin olive oil
We usually buy it at Walmart because it is a good price for a big jug [even though the jug is unfortunately plastic], BUT I will be buying my EVOO from Fresh Thyme from now on since they have it in bulk and I can bring my own container.
I haven’t found a source of unpackaged toilet paper yet, so I buy the rolls in large packages and recycle the plastic wrap [grocery store drop off] and all of the cardboard rolls [curbside pickup].
I wish we were to the point of not using any toilet paper, but my husband is not a fan of the make-shift bidet [aka diaper sprayer].
I buy my yeast in glass jars because I use a lot of yeast and glass is a sustainable material and good for reusing [like storing homemade baby food or making homemade candles] or recycling.
Ah, milk – the bane of my zero waste existence. I see why it is so much easier to be truly “zero waste” as a vegan. But my husband cannot live without milk. We could buy it in glass bottles, but I just can’t bring myself to do it yet. So, the downside is three plastic jugs to be recycled. BUT, on the upside, one gallon is for making homemade yogurt, and the other is for making homemade ricotta…so I’m saving the waste I would have if I bought those things.
[I’m trying to convince my family to switch over to the cashew milk I make and think is delicious – but change takes time…]
I picked up loose produce and put it in my own bags. The only regret is that the bananas are not fair trade – but I don’t even know where to find fair trade bananas. [Suggestions, anyone?]
Ironically, the produce is the only place where I brought home something actually bound for the trash can – the stickers.
But, I guess if this is all that goes to the landfill, that’s not too bad after all.