Grocery Trip These Days

My usual first stop is Sobey’s on Friday evening. My stack of reusable grocery bags go in the cart and the side pockets hold my produce bags. First I collect the produce. Stickers get left behind on the fruit stand or I try to find the fruit without stickers, being mindful to take what I touch.

I feel great when I pick my own produce plastic free. Choose the ones I want! I usually go for the single bananas, as I think most people grab a bunch, I know I used too! Less food waste. I take some grapes out of the plastic bags and place them in my cloth bag. Usually 3 bunches worth. How lovely it would be to see naked grapes; no bags needed. Use your own bag or container (Check to see if the container can have the weight tared).

my grocery run at Sobey’s is getting smaller and smaller!

Plastic packaging. There are benefits to owning your own cow and making your own crackers; plastic free. Add in making your own creams and cheeses. But, a person only has so much time to do what can be done. We truly need help from these companies to switch packaging materials.

These are the main plastic packaged items we go through in a week. 3 or 4 milk cartons, as well as a usual Chocolate milk too (have enough from last week already to do us). Coffee cream, cheese, sour cream, sandwich meats, hotdogs and some berries (we cut back quite a bit on berries and this is the first pack of hotdogs in 2 weeks, those are getting a kick too). Crackers, pizza bites (One of Chris’ favourites), Vaseline is good to have on hand for minor issues, taco spice and chips. We have not found a taco spice replacement yet and chips are becoming less common and popcorn more so which is package free at Bulk Barn. Got some reusable K-Cup pods as Chris is making the switch at months end from the disposable kinds. Yay!! We won’t be replacing the Keurig machine anytime soon as it is only about 6 months old.

Mostly plastic free

Potatoes, mostly plastic free (small amount of mesh for air circulation), parkay margarine squares, Lindt chocolate bars, Dr. Bonners bar soap (another experiment for my facial issues; acne/ezema/dry skin . . . I dont know). Grapes, bananas, Gala apples for Chris, cat food for Sparta (only 4 cans, usually 7 but I already had some on hand). 4 large cans of Fruitopia; no cardboard or plastic wrap, cheaper than regular size cans and cartons. Juice intake at home has been cut to one glass a day or for school (the two youngest rarely have any juice anymore). Usually there would be oranges and Granny Smith apples, but we already had some on hand. 10% cleaning vinegar was not needed this week either

Last week it dawned on me how much we have stopped buying groceries at large grocery stores. I shop the produce section heavily and skip the bakery as I make our own bread and baked goods. Sometimes, if I get to Sobey’s early enough, I will purchase some bagels from the bin for Daniel, using my cloth bag. I Skip the meat department almost all together (except sandwich meats and occasionally hotdogs). Milk products are a must in our family as well as cheese, sour cream and margarine squares. Yogurt and juice cartons are skipped. The only frozen foods we buy are french fries and occasional ice cream. Juice cans are an occasional pickup item. Next are chips and pop, but those have probably been reduced by almost half already. The middle aisles have been slimmed down to spaghetti and sauce, taco spice pack and salsa, canned soups, condiments in can or glass and chocolate bars in foil and paper only. Corn flakes and Cheerios (not sold at Bulk Barn). Cat food cans, dry cat food, cat litter in a cardboard box and cat treats in a recyclable container (not the plastic waste bag). Facial tissues in single boxes, not bulk in plastic wrap. Toilet paper and rarely paper towel. Can you believe we used to go through a double roll of paper towel a day! Unbelievable! Thank goodness for cleaning rags and cloth wipes for kids! Occasional razor blades, shaving cream and medicine as needed. No shampoo, body washes and lotions, nor menstrual pads, diapers or baby wipes. I buy extra large blue bags, which at this point, a box of 12 should last us about 9 months. Compost bags in bulk amount, 125. Our compost waste has slimmed down to about a bag every two days. So again, that box should last us 9 months+.

I do buy extra large garbage bags to fit the waste cart outside. No more bags in the house. But, since I am buying our meat package free, I do not necessarily need those bags in the cart. (Meat packages would go to the cart after use so our indoor waste would not get smelly within a day. We empty our household waste every 16 days or so). So those extra large bags will actually last a long time. I estimate 8-10 weeks to fill one. I may stop using these bags, for now, and store our indoor waste in a smaller bin lined with chip bags, cereal bags, French true bags etc . . . I believe plastic waste needs to be contained so it does not get lost by wind, dumping, handling and such. If it is contained it can be disposed of properly without littering our communities, parks, trails, beaches, rivers, lakes and oceans. 

When out for a walk, camping exploring . . . bring your garbage home. Do not depend on the public trash cans to dispose of your trash for you. Most likely, bins that are labeled for sorting compost and waste, get thrown out together. If animals or the wind knock these bins over, that loose trash gets spread all over the place. Best dispose of it where you know it will be properly taken cared of, at home. I will be carrying a cloth bag with handles to pick up trash this year on my walks. Not depending on plastic grocery bags and the cloth bag can be washed once emptied over and over!


Next stop on Saturday morning is the Summerside Farmer’s Market.

Pleasant Pork  has many great options! Today I picked up 2 lbs bacon, 6 slices of back bacon to try (Chris’ request), kolbassa sausage and some other sausage that I can not remember the name of. Oh dear!

I brought our empty egg carton back and got a dozen more local eggs. Spot on!

The Farmer’s Wife has a great selection of soaps. I bought a small jug of her laundry soap to try. The best part besides made locally is that she will take the empty container back for reuse and you get a small discount for doing do! Very encouraging! I picked up some more bar soap too. No packaging!

Clohossey Farm’s had some mini red potatoes waiting for me plastic free upon my request online the night before. They are so accomodating! They have a table set up with produce package free. I picked up a bundle of carrots (bundled with an elastic band which I will return) and a single turnip.

Oh yes, and a single garlic bunch, local vendor.

Brady’s Farm had their last day with apples until the coming season. 1 bag purchased. Will be patiently waiting for August to come with fresh apples again.

I stopped by Inspire Essential Oil Heatable Bags to let the lady know our popcorn bag was working much better with the smaller popcorn kernels. I was using a jumbo kind and they were taking too long to pop in the microwave resulting in nearly burnt popcorn. I now buy the gourmet white popcorn at Bulk Barn. 3 minutes and 45 seconds in the microwave with 1/4 or 1/3 cup popcorn kernels. Remove the popped popcorn and microwave the seeds again for 3 minutes. Remove the popped popcorn and repeat another time. This will get you the most popcorn. When using a popcorn machine, the already popped popcorn is blown out of the machine to allow the other kernels to pop and not get burned. Though the microwave method my take longer, I do not need to keep the bulky machine. The bag is easy to clean as well; just put it in the wash! My only concern is that after 2 times in the microwave, the bag gets really hot. If I need to make a bug batch of popcorn, then it may be worth while to have 2 of these bags. It would still take less room to store and just as easy to clean.


Next stop, Bulk Barn!

I did not need to pick up very much here. We have lots of nuts and cereal on hand as well as baking supplies. So this week consisted on refilling our chocolate stash (we love chocolates!), parmesan cheese, coffee, peanut butter, honey roasted peanuts, hazelnuts, pretzels and trying out 2 kinds of granola. I am having a problem with trying to make all my own recipes, granola one of them. I have not had time to make granola and I don’t think I have the time. So, Bulk Barn  has it available to me, different kinds too, so I should take advantage of it! A good reminder that not all things need to be made by you to cut out waste. Look at your options.


A stop at Superstore as I know I can get broccoli there package free. I don’t understand why Sobey’s broccoli is wrapped in plastic and Superstores’ is not. I talked to the deli meat department manager about using my own containers for deli meat. I expressed that I did not want the packaging and that the department does not even have to handle my container. I can hold it while they load it! Also, I mentioned that maybe they could use butcher paper instead of the plastic to handle the deli meat as they weigh it. The manager was really interested in what I had to say, and agreed that it would be great if we could use our containers. But, she needs permission from above her to do so, and asked me to call her on Monday-Wednesday to hear about an answer. Fingers crossed!

I also purchase here Down East laundry soap and Nature Clean dishwasher detergent. Also Oxygen Bleach by Nature Clean.


Last stop was The Summerside Butcher Shop. I had called in the morning and gave my order and asked for it to be wrapped in paper. 2 whole chickens, 4 chicken breasts and 1 lb of lean Hamburg. I had asked about the lining in the butcher paper, but the employees did not really know what it was. I will have to call and ask the manager another time.


Another tip I came up with is this:

When I leave the stickers off my produce and come to the cashier, sometimes it’s a new person who does not know the number. Sometimes there is a line-up behind me and the cashier is trying to be as efficient as can be, but there is no number on the produce I have chosen. I slow down the line, make it awkward, force the cashier to learn the numbers faster, which is good. So I take one of those stickers and stick it to my wallet! That way I have the number on hand at the cash! Those produce numbers are a universal number for that specific food item. So far I only have 2. My collection should have about 8 stickers.

Photo by Chris Willcock

I also carry with me a water bottle. There are no fountains to get a drink when I’m thirsty and I do not want to be dehydrated shopping. I did that a while ago and it sucked!

Photo by Chris Willcock

As you can see, with a bit of effort, many items are package free! Speak up and ask, change stores if need be! I am not travelling very far either. All these stores are not very far apart. Living in town has good opportunities to live with less waste. When living in rural areas, one should make an appointment trip once a week with a list handy of the stops needed and products. Planning ahead is best and also a great way to avoid spending on other products not essentially needed or wanted in the first place.

Take a look at our progress since July of 2018 on my page Managing Our Waste at Home!

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