Tare It Up!
Packaging…one of the most tedious items to eliminate from our daily lives. But there’s hope as, more and more, you can bring in your own containers to select stores and get what you’re paying for without having to dispose of/recycle the packaging. Ironically, my parents generation did this anyway with milk and soda bottles. They were taught to throw things away. Now, we can teach ourselves, and the younger generation, to reuse…and save money in the process.
When you buy in bulk, you can not only eliminate packaging, but help your food shopping budget dramatically. Think 1/3 of the cost, for the same product.
Today’s challenge is to try TARE* shopping.
- Find a clean, dry, wide-mouthed container in your home. (I like to use Mason jars, but Tupperware or other upcycled containers work well too).
- If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the empty container (and lid). Write that weight (pounds and ounces or grams) on the container on a piece of tape with permanent marker. (If you don’t have a kitchen scale, the store can weigh the empty container for you).
- Go to a store that sells in bulk (Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, (some) King Soopers (Kroger family), etc….
- While at the store, fill your container with the bulk product you are purchasing.
- Write down the PLU code – on the piece of tape, a piece of paper (or put it in your phone).
- Check out. Sometimes the cashier doesn’t know how to deal with tare, so here’s where you need to practice some mindful breathing and smile while they (may have to) get a manager to help.
The easiest to try this with is probably coffee as more stores have coffee in bulk. This may be a very new thing for you to do, so don’t make it harder on yourself than necessary. Items that frequently come in bulk are seeds, rices, grains, cereals, oats, nuts, etc. But you can also get nut butters, candy, dried fruit, and much more.
I see this as a process. People (especially retail stores) are not used to thinking in zero waste terms. So, you can consider yourself part of the package-free revolution!
If this challenge doesn’t work for you today, do one of the Optional Activities and try it another time when it works with your schedule.
*Tare weight /ˈtɛər/, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting it from the gross weight (laden weight), the weight of the goods carried (the net weight) may be determined. (Wikipedia)