Nine ways to shop for food without excess packaging

Today I’m answering a query from Cecilia.

She’s asking about buying food without excess packaging.

She wrote “What I’d most like to know about is buying food that’s not in packaging or is in reusable (either by me or by the shop if i take it back) packaging, and preferably organic food too.

I have a good system for not needing plastic bags, I have a wicker basket that I take shopping and I also take a rucksack and some spare bags. I also usually have a spare bag of some sort in my handbag, just in case.

A lot of food is sold packaged though, in packaging that you just have to throw away. I would like to know if there’s somewhere I can get things like milk and orange juice in glass bottles that I can return to be reused and any other ways of buying food/drink in less packaging.”

Watch the video below to find nine suggestions for food shopping without excess packaging.

Local knowledge

Scour local publications or talk to people in your community to find those hidden gems – we often don’t know what’s on our doorsteps!

On our Facebook Group, we have people from all around the world who are friendly and willing to help. Join in and see if there’s anyone local on there. Or send out some tweets, using the place you live as a hashtag – I generally find people on social media are very willing and happy to help.

Vegetable box

Ordering a vegetable box is a great way to buy naked food. It’s also good for the overall picture of zero waste because you’ll be forced to eat more seasonally.

Be prepared to compromise

Spend some time thinking about your values and model of the world. Cecilia mentioned she wanted organic food. I’ve found that I often have to choose between naked non-organic or packaged organic. Only you can choose what you are prepared to compromise on.

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk from a food co-operative mostly results in less packaging that can be reused. For example buying 5 kg of pumpkin seeds comes in a thick polythene bag, whereas buying individual bags from a supermarket comes in crinkly film that can’t be recycled.

Farmers markets / farm shops

Find a local farmers market or farm shop. You can buy most things without packaging plus you can buy just the amount you need, thus reducing food waste.

Use your own containers

Call a local deli, butcher or bakery and ask if you can take your own packaging. They’ll often pop your container on the scales, tare off the weight and allow you to buy sans packaging.

Find a milkman

Cecilia asked about milk and orange juice. *Some* milkmen still deliver in reusable bottles. Find a local one and make that call!

Make your own

For orange juice, you can make your own with fresh oranges – you end up with a top quality product that is full of vitamins and minerals.

Grow your own!

You don’t need a big garden to grow food! Why not try herbs in the kitchen windowsill, salad in a windowbox or tomatoes / strawberries in a hanging basket.




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Rachelle Strauss


  1. […] on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic alongside loose vegetables – why do you need that trash? The less people buy foods that are unnecessarily packaged, the less they will appear in grocery […]

  2. Sheila on September 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    I buy veg and meat and a few others things from my local food assembly where there is minimal packaging and where possible it is I eat locally sourced organic food and have very little packaging to recycle or bin.

    • Rachelle Strauss on September 5, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Sounds like you’ve found the perfect solution, Sheila. Thanks for sharing!

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