Show Your Plastic Challenge: Our 1st Attempt at Plastic Free Shopping

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

Our 1st Mindful Plastic Free Shopping Experience

Plastic free living puts a whole new spin on organic, gluten free grocery shopping. I was on a high thinking about how I would manage our typical Whole Foods shopping trip. I think the high was on “cloud 9” though, it didn’t last long. As we walked into the grocery store I thought my husband might hyperventilate at the idea of loosing all of his “stress relievers”, prepackaged convenience foods.

NO chips, NO cookies. What? NO bars.

How will I survive those midnight cravings? I can already hear the shuffling of items in the pantry, glass jars clanking. Where are my brightly colored, alluring plastic packages of sweet & savory snacks? You know, the ones that make the crinkling sound and cause the kids to stop dead in their tracks and ask,“What do you have?”

What will life be like now, post commitment to plastic free living? I reassured my family that we wouldn’t be giving everything up at once. On our commute, we discussed our grocery ‘wishes’ (items containing plastic packaging) and decided that each family member would choose 2 items.


Shopping for produce should be easy on my plastic free mission. I thought, “I will simply avoid the bagged/netted produce for their loose counterparts.” Then a depressing fact came to my realization. In most cases the price/lb of loose produce EXCEEDED the price/lb of produce pre-packed in plastic! How could this be? The resources used in making the packaging increased the overall cost of producing the product. I stopped to remember why I started this year long project to rid our lives of plastic. Better Health, Better Environment, Better You. I know that not all plastic free choices are going to be cheaper. But this one surprised me. Illogical! I packed my reusable produce bags and continued on.

The rest of my shopping didn’t give me any pleasure except for the ‘naked’ bar of goats milk soap that I slid into a paper bag. I obviously have a lot of planning to do if I’m going to shop plastic free. For this trip I had to be content with choosing less plastic in easily recyclable containers.

As the cashier rang up my items I asked about deducting the tare weight of my reusable produce bags. Yes! They gladly did it. One last thing..I brought one of my surplus reusable shopping bags to share with a fellow shopper who didn’t have one. A quick glance around and the man next to me didn’t have one. He gladly accepted it. Maybe next time he’ll think about using it again.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Whole Foods Store


At the end of the shopping experience we left with more than 8 items containing plastic packaging. It was a very enlightening experience with several small successes along the way. I must confess did a little hyperventilating myself as I walked through the aisles. Next time I’ll be a little more prepared….

3 thoughts on “Show Your Plastic Challenge: Our 1st Attempt at Plastic Free Shopping”

  1. I admire what you are trying Amanda, though it is further than we are willing to go yet. My wife received some reusable vegetable bags and I was wondering if they would deduct the tare weight. I suspect it varies by store and Whole Foods is good that way.

    Logistics question: How do you know the tare weight? Do you tell them? Do you have to plan ahead and have it weighed before you fill it? Do you keep an extra unused bag that they can weigh at the register?

    1. Jonathan, While I would love to take credit, this is actually a series my contributing writer (and sister) Jen is doing for me. My family is just not quite there yet ourselves. While we have given up much plastic, I can’t get rid of it completely just yet.

      To answer your questions about the tare weight, our Whole Foods is awesome about weighing the bag prior to anything being added. Even for the bulk purchases, I take my glass jars in before I do my shopping and they make a notation of the weight of each jar and then deduct it from the total. I bet if you asked it would be something they would be willing to work with you on. We love the bulk sections 🙂

    2. I’m thrilled to hear that you received some reusable produce bags. Some of my bags have a little label on them that contains the tare weight. If they do not have a listed tare weight stop at customer service on your way into the store for them to weigh the bags. The same applies to glass jars or other containers you might bring for bulk items like olive oil, honey, or nut butters. My cashier at Whole Foods was very cooperative to deduct the tare weight. I had one bag that didn’t have a weight listed and she assumed the same weight as the others. I was ok with that.

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