Zero Waste Shopping – My New Routine

My zero waste shopping is starting to settle down into a nice routine now so I thought I’d share it on my blog. Twenty minutes drive away from us is Barnard Castle, Teesdale’s historic market town, which contains a wide variety of shops including independent grocers, butchers, clothes shops, book shops, charity shops, antique shops, a supermarket, hardware shop, pubs, cafes, post office and arts centre. As someone who likes to support local and independent businesses as much as possible, Barnard Castle is the ideal town for me.

I shop in Barnard Castle fortnightly, either on a Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s market day on Wednesday, which means I can take advantage of the wonderful, great value fruit and vegetable stall where barely anything is wrapped in plastic, but I have to park further away, which is tricky when I need to take bags back to the car and return for more shopping. On a Tuesday I can park centrally and put my bags in the car when they get too heavy for me.

wp_20160326_14_07_07_pro-1Whichever day it is, I usually start off at William Peat’s butchers, who are happy for me to use my own containers. Their meat is all from local farms and there is a notice on the counter informing the customer of where the meat is from that week. I buy enough meat for 6-7 meals. We’re trying to introduce more vegetable-based meals into our diet, so this will last us for about a fortnight. Once I’ve bought my meat, I have a fair idea of our meals for the next week or so and know what I need to buy to add to our store cupboard staples.

Next door is The Hayloft, a large premises with small grocer’s shop at the front, cafe at the back and second-hand/antique shop upstairs. The Hayloft’s grocer’s shop sells loose fresh fruit and vegetables, plants, a huge range of different flours, dried fruit, nuts, spices, herbs, oats and muesli ingredients, some cake decorating supplies, unpackaged bars of soap, coffee and tea, sweets, soft drinks in glass bottles, home-baked cakes and a few other things. The owner clearly buys in bulk and packages up a lot of these items himself and has told me he is happy for me to take my own containers to be filled as long as he has a bit of notice. I’ve asked him if he’s thought of investing in dispensers and he is concerned he doesn’t have room. So in The Hayloft I buy large paper bags of flour and a couple of other basics.

The Hayloft’s interesting selection of second hand goods. 


At this point I usually take the heavy bags to the car then I either progress to the supermarket, Morrisons, for my fruit and vegetables, which are both cheap and loose there, or if it’s Wednesday I buy my fruit and vegetables on the market. I also love Morrison’s deli counter, where I buy all our cooked meat for the week in paper bags (these go in the firebasket when they’re done with).

After another trip to the car, I might visit The Orchard, who also sell fruit and vegetables loose, plus some local cheeses, eggs, baked goods (all in plastic unfortunately, so I usually pass on these), store cupboard staples like herbs, spices, flour etc, and refillable laundry products. They have no problem with me using my own container for these, so I buy my washing up liquid here and maybe one or two other things that take my fancy.

Also in Barnard Castle is Boyes, a popular north east department store with an amazing haberdashery section, and Connelly’s toyshop, an Aladdin’s cave of a shop. I like to have a mooch round the charity shops to see if anything catches my eye before I head home.

The weeks that I don’t go to Barnard Castle, I go to Morrison’s or Asda to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting myself to loose only, and any other basics I need to stock up on, such as tinned tomatoes, washing powder (in a box which we recycle), Bovril (I can’t live without it!), milk (I still haven’t managed to find a local milkman), butter, toilet rolls and frozen food (we stick to things in boxes).

Anything that we unavoidably buy in plastic, I reuse the bag. If it is small, I wash it and use it for school lunches. If it is medium I use it for cat litter. And if it is large I use it to line our small kitchen bin. Keep your eyes peeled for my update on my New Year’s Resolutions and our waste reduction efforts in the first quarter of 2016.

Do you have a shopping routine? Is it arranged around certain shops? Speed of shopping? Or lack of packaging? Let me know about your routine in the comments.


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