Zero Waste Shopping Tips During a Pandemic [or other Emergencies]

First and foremost YOUR safety is the most important thing.
Not only your physical health, but also your mental health.
Online strangers in Zero Waste groups may say differently.
Rest assured, compassionate people will understand that some people may face challenges.

Shopping Bags and Checking Out
I personally prefer self checkouts.
I always preferred to use self check out as I hate small talk and I like to pack my own groceries. All those years of Tetris have paid off.
Right now, it limits how close and how long I need to be around people.
It allows me to use my own bags as some stores aren’t allowing you to use your own shopping bags. The ones that do let you use them at a regular check out make you pack your own bags. I prefer to save my time and just use the self checkout.
When I get home, I wipe off and clean my bags.
An alternative… they may even just let you put all the items back in your cart without a bag. This would require showing a receipt, which many people are saying not to accept.

shopping bags

If you end up with having to use plastic bags… Don’t feel too bad.
You can use them as trash bags around the house.
Use them to collect your dog’s poop on walks, or give them to someone with a dog. Take them on your nature walks to collect litter. Use them to stuff your shoes when you store them.
When the world gets back to normal you can go back to refusing the bags.
In my city, shopping bags are recyclable.

Grocery Items
Items in the grocery store can be limited right now.
I know we have had to make last minute changes to our meal plans and shopping lists. Some bigger stores that offer bulk items are not allowing you to use your own containers. Bulk Barn is not allowing your personal containers, and for safety reasons are only allowing associates to get your items. This means you end up with plastic bags. These bags could be reused and repurposed. One local store, MultiServices Vert (which I call the milk store) still allows your personal containers. If you can, check out businesses online. Call or email them to see what their polices are. It’s always better to choose local stores over large national chain stores. But at this time, YOUR survival and mental well being is the most important!

As you’re selecting items go for those with the least packaging.
Choose glass or cardboard over plastic.
If you have to get plastic, try to make sure it’s recyclable in your area or try to reuse it.
Feeding your family is the goal.

Learn How To Make It
If you’re having trouble finding items you want, in the packing you want … you can always try and make it yourself! Recipes can be found for almost everything online.
Since we’re all supposed to be staying at home, take the time to learn how to make your favourite items. Have some fruit that isn’t going to be eaten in a timely manner? Look up a recipe for a cobbler or bread.
Some basics to try and keep on hand:
– all purpose flour
– baking powder
– salt
– sugar
– eggs or applesauce to replace the eggs
– vanilla

Don’t beat yourself up.
No one is perfect.
Do the best you can and keep trying to reduce your impact!




5 Super Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps for your Bathroom

First off, DO NOT replace these items unless it really is needed.
That would defeat the purpose of being minimal waste.

If at all possible, buy from a local shop who supports local producers, crafters and artisans.

1. Shampoo + Conditioner Bars

These last forever!
Eliminate the plastic bottles by switching to shampoo and conditioner bars.

The green one I bought July of last year before I went on on my Geography field camp. It came from a cloth diapering and zero waste store at the mall.
I can not for the life of me remember the brand of it. I know it was made in Quebec and was sold as an outdoors-y soap. It has citronella and lemon grass, which I thought would be handy being in the bush for a week. The bar was supposed to condition as well, but I found that it didn’t so well for me.

The pink one is my “American Cream” conditioner bar from Lush. I bought it because I had read that it was “Curly Girl” friendly. I’m a wavy, so sometimes I like to just co-wash with the conditioner bar.

Bonus: Soap Tray

I bought this soap tray at a smaller store that focuses on local products.
It only cost me $5. I kept an eye out at other stores and window shopped online and most that I saw were at least $20. My shower has little shelves with ridges for soap, so I was perfectly fine with using the one furthest from the shower head for my shampoo and conditioner bars.

2. Tooth Paste Tablets

I got these at a semi-local zero-waste grocery store.
You would have to understand the local geography, but even though it’s only a 15 minute drive it is technically in another city and in another province.
Super easy to use. You just chew them up into a paste and then brush your teeth. Most tooth paste tubes are not recyclable due to being made of a combination of plastic and aluminium.

3. Safety Razor

This was one of my first swaps.
I got this one at Walmart as it was less than $20. I buy my blades from local stores. It has a nice weight and feel to it.
There is a difference in shaving techniques.
You have to hold the razor at a 45 degree angle and DO NOT apply pressure! The weight of the razor will be enough. It is the closest and cleanest shaves that I have ever had. Another pointer, do short strips.
If you’re nervous, watch some youtube videos.

4. Soap Bars

I consider myself lucky that my aunt makes soap.
She grows and uses her own herbs.
The one pictured is an orange detox soap.
When I happen to run out, I usually buy a locally hand made soap that benefits the Children’s Leukaemia Society. At only $5 a bar, this is an amazing soap.

5. Soap Bag

I have done away with plastic loofahs in my shower and replaced them with this soap pouch. They are designed to hold tiny pieces of soap together as one big bar. I noticed that I would go through my natural soap bars really fast as the kids always managed to splash water on the little shelves in our shower. My solution was to place the bars of soap in these bags and use them instead of loofahs or facecloths. We hang them to try in the shower on the shower curtain hooks to dry out.
When the bar of soap runs out, I wash it out and let it dry then add another bar of soap.

What about you?
What are some of your favourite minimal waste bathroom items?