Published: Feb. 12, 2021 By

It seems like there is no way to completely eliminate waste when it comes to buying groceries. Nearly everything comes in a single-use plastic bag, cardboard, or other type of unavoidable packaging. Don’t worry-you can still reduce your waste AND buy your favorite potato chips. It’s all about following the 5 Rs in order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!


  • The first R, refuse, is arguably the most effective and important R when it comes to eliminating waste in your life.  

  • “Refuse” to create any unnecessary waste when you’re shopping by

    • Bringing a reusable bag.

    • Purchasing unpackaged produce.

    • Buying in bulk using reusable containers.

  • If you can’t re-use it, REFUSE it! Try not to purchase packaged items if you don’t have a plan to reuse or recycle the packaging.


  • Tons of food waste, plastic waste, and other packaging waste is generated through over-shopping.

  • Make a list of exactly what you need and stick to it. 

  • Eat everything-make sure you can before it goes bad!

  • Don’t shop until you absolutely have to! Utilize all of the ingredients in your kitchen. 

  • Check this article out for meal planning tips.


  • If you buy in bulk using refillable containers or shop at these zero-waste businesses below, you don’t have to worry about how to re-use as many of the materials below!

  • Plastic bag

    • Use it for pet cleanup. Line cages, pick up dog poop, and clean out take out cat litter in re-used bags!

    • Save bags to cover up outdoor plants when there’s a storm!

    • Line your trash cans.

    • Construct a DIY greenhouse

  • Cardboard

    • Use it as a canvas for painting/drawing/collaging!

    • Look up some DIY crafts online!

  • Glass Jars and Plastic Containers

    • Clean out glass jars and use them as cups, storage for bulk, or for crafting!


  • Make sure you follow every preceding R before coming to this one.

  • Be sure you are recycling properly!

  • Choose products with recyclable packaging over those without recyclable packaging.

  • Take reused plastic bags to a site that recycles them!