Avoiding Plastic When Grocery Shopping

Learn how to go grocery shopping and stock your kitchen without buying any plastic products.

| May 2018

Life Without Plastic (Page Street Publishing, 2017) by Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha creates awareness for readers about living a life without plastic. Plamondon and Sinha walk through their personal plastic use, and share alternatives and replacements to help reduce the plastic in your life. The following excerpt is their favorite tips for using less plastic in your kitchen and on your trips to the grocery store.

Ten years ago, in our local grocery store in Wakefield, Quebec, you would rarely see someone bring their own reusable bags. Now you rarely see someone NOT bringing reusable bags. It took some time, but the new habit has started to take hold and what was once perceived as normal behavior has completely reversed. The same applies to many other little habits you might want to start integrating into your daily routine. It’s the example that you set for others that creates change in your community and beyond.

Choosing the Right Grocery Bags

Make sure you always have a bag with you when you go grocery shopping, whether it’s in your handbag, your backpack, in the glove compartment or trunk of your car or attached to your key chain; even a secondhand plastic bag will do just fine. It’s better than no bag at all, and you save a bag from going to the landfill. If, however, you want to go a step further and invest in the purchase of reusable bags, you might want to consider a few important factors.


Ideally, you want to prioritize materials that close the loop of the bag’s life cycle and go back to the Earth, and are not just recycled into a lower quality item (i.e., down-cycled). Cotton, jute and hemp are all natural materials that can be composted back into the Earth.

Durability and Repairability

Not only will a reusable bag be a solid long-term investment, but its durability and repairability are also determining factors in how soon it will end up in a landfill. Can you repair a hole that forms at the bottom of the bag? If the bag is made of plastic, it will be harder to repair. A cotton canvas bag is easy to repair with a needle and thread or a sewing machine.

To ensure your bag is durable and solid, inspect the pressure areas. Seams are more likely to break at the top of the handles and at the bottom of the bag. Are these seams reinforced? Is the design flawed because of where the seams are positioned? Over time, seams located at high pressure points will weaken and may give out due to the pressure of constantly supporting the bag and its contents.

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