4 tips for shopping Zero Waste


A0collab x Ohelo

If you are here, you are probably starting to take steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle, and I have to say that you, indeed, will need steps.

It is in our human nature to wish for quick changes but, in this case, that mentality will bring us the last thing we need: waste. Buying new zero-waste products, throwing away perfectly fine and useful items, and letting ourselves get dragged by consumerism are things that can surely happen at the beginning of our journey. Because it is too easy to fall into that, instead of a shopping list, I’m sharing with you the 4 steps I follow before purchasing any product. Example included!

Check your habits

Do you always end up with a drawer full of plastic bags? Are you enjoying your takeaway coffee but hate the use of disposable cups? Are you a big fan of cocktails and need a straw for them every Saturday? 

See where your waste is coming from before buying any new product to solve a problem that you may not have. Writing down your daily routine for one week will help you find your real needs instead of what other people say they are.

Let me share with you a practical case: I know that I enjoy my takeaway coffee, I also like having some cuppa tea at work, and I’m always drinking water. Considering my situation, I would need a reusable cup to use at work with the right size to be used at any cafe, as well. I also want it to have a 100% leak-proof lid so I can bring it with me as a water bottle.

Research the products

I’m probably not the only one that got many ads about ethical and/or sustainable products once I started being interested in Zero Waste. I do think that it’s a positive thing to have such a variety of products and companies sharing the same eco-beliefs, but sadly, not every one of them is what they claim to be. 

After Zero Waste became a trend, it started to be difficult to recognize greenwashing although we shouldn’t feel discouraged by that. It is possible to find the right products if we take our time to check the materials used, where they’re produced, the working condition at the factory, and even the packaging (it’s upsetting to receive zero-waste products wrapped in plastic, more plastic, and a bit more plastic.)

To be fair, I think reading all that information before making any purchase, and even demanding answers from the companies have always been our duty as customers.

Plan the shopping

This nightmare has happened before: I run out of dishwasher soap and end up buying brands that I don’t really like in plastic containers that I really hate –instead of my favourite zero-waste soap bar. To avoid this frustrating experience, it’s important to plan our shopping

Usually, zero-waste shops aren’t on our way home, open until 11 PM like most supermarkets, and if we decide to use online stores, we have to keep their delivery time into account. I would consider planning essential if we’re talking about cleaning and bathroom products.

As a procrastinator, I had to change my habits, but this new mindset encouraged me to start organizing other aspects of my zero-waste lifestyle. For instance, creating a weekly menu plan, followed by a shopping list, will help me avoid food waste.

As I don’t consider a tumbler an urgent item, the delivery time wasn’t a concern. It still arrived quickly, after just a couple of days, in completely recyclable packaging, no plastic to be seen anywhere!

Think it over again

I know, after we’ve done all this work already, now I’m suggesting you reconsider your purchase. As I see it, the zero-waste lifestyle is not a war against plastic but a fight against mindless consumerism and single-use items; and we lose it when we buy things we don’t need and/or we won’t use for a long time.

My recommendation is to give it a week, wait seven days to see if you still need that product, if you still think it will be useful in your daily life. Once you’re sure, go for it, and don’t forget to take good care of it once it’s in your hands.

I honestly pondered for a few days how useful this tumbler could be for me. I repeated the first step just to be sure that it would make my life easier and if it’d really help me avoid waste, like the other products I already own. One week later, and I’ve been enjoying daily this “true multi-tasker” tumbler, as Katy and Alex rightfully claim it to be.

Even if I follow these steps daily before every buy, I’m not always successful – I’m still working hard on step number 4. That’s most definitely fine, and I want you to feel the same.

I believe that Zero Waste is a concept, a goal, and that the most important thing is taking steps to get closer to it. These are my steps, but I can’t wait to hear about yours.

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