Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

We have become inseparable from plastic. We package, wrap, and carry our food in plastic. We even put plastic bags in other plastic bags.

There is a widespread epidemic of plastic shopping bags in Palestine. When you buy anything from a shop, it’s almost guaranteed that it’s packaged in plastic or comes in a plastic bag.

The convenience of plastic has ended up in us adopting a throwaway lifestyle.

So, what’s the problem with plastic?

Disposable plastic items are used for a few minutes but eventually end up in landfills and oceans, and remain in the world non-degraded. To put this into context, one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, and it can take up to 1,000 years for a single bag to degrade.

An average household consumes around 100 plastic bags a month! Making a simple swap, like switching to reusable bags, can make a big impact. 

For veggies, fruits, dried fruits, nuts you can use reusable net bags. They don’t weigh anything and can easily be put on the scale. Try to go to markets or stores where you can find unpackaged produce that can be bought in bulk.

See this tutorial to make your own produce bags.

cloth bag

For spices and foods that come in liquid (like olives and pickles), you can bring your own clean containers from home. Simply, 1. Weigh your empty container with the lid by putting it on the scale. 2. Fill the container with whatever you need. 3. Take to the till and pay.

For bread and dry cakes, you can use your own cloth napkin.

For groceries in general, large reusable cloth bags are super effective.

cloth bag



Wherever I go, I carry a reusable bag with me. I politely reject any attempt by cashiers to put my groceries in plastic bags. Their reactions vary, some are pleasantly surprised and happy about the idea of reusable bags, while others are less enthusiastic and do not seem to understand why I would do such a thing. Many shop owners I talk to are aware of the problems of plastic but are concerned that refusing to offer plastic bags or charging for them would be too risky for their businesses.

Although the overwhelming challenge of the plastic bag will take many years to deal with, small individual actions will help move us in the right direction, making the problem more manageable. Having reusable cloth or net bags at hand and refusing to accept the plastic bags offered to you will hopefully inspire others to move towards such alternatives.