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CHALLENGE DAY 10

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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Go to a store that sells in bulk (Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, (some) King Soopers (Kroger family), etc….
  4. While at the store, fill your container with the bulk product you are purchasing.
  5. Write down the PLU code – on the piece of tape, a piece of paper (or put it in your phone).
  6. 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.

See this side blog about Zero Market for inspiration

*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)

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Zero Market

I live in Denver, Colorado and there is a fantastic new store called “Zero Market” here.  It’s located in a re-purposed airport building near where I live.  They have lotions, laundry soap, shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, tea, essential oils, cleaners, and so much more that people can buy using their own containers.

You can also buy reusable containers here.  They have stainless steel containers and reusable cutlery for waste-free lunches.  For your plastic-bag-free shopping, they have mesh and cotton produce bags.  They have reusable straws, coffee cups, drink bottles, shopping bags, bamboo toothbrushes and much more.

If you’ve taken on the #SustainableThree #WasteNotWantNot2018 DAY 10 challenge of trying buying in bulk using TARE weighted containers, you know it’s a learning process.  Sometimes the learning process is occurring for the cashier at the supermarket who is not used to dealing with TARE/bulk weighing process and ringing up of net weight products. 

Sometimes the learning is for us who have grown up throwing away or recycling packaging for items like cereal, flour, rice, coffee, tea, laundry detergent, shampoo, toothpaste and such.  Knowing that everything goes somewhere and all that packaging either ends up in a landfill or using more fossil fuel energy to be recycled, it can feel really good to shop in bulk.

Zero Market is a store where they’ve fully embraced shopping in bulk and are passionate about reducing packaging.  It’s truly a treat to shop here.

 

Owned by Lyndsey and Jesse Manderson, this store is a pleasure to explore.  Their passion for the planet radiates from the shelves…and their smiling faces.

An ideal field trip might be to put several Mason jars (Mason jars have a standard weight, so no need to pre-weigh and label before going to the store) into a reusable bag in a backpack or bicycle basket and go Zero Market shopping.  On a beautiful day, it would mean fresh air, sunshine, exercise and a conscience cleansing shopping trip.  You could have a coffee at the nearby Logan House cafe while there.  Then, cycle home and put away your items.

I’ve included some photos for inspiration.

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