You walk into a grocery store with your reusable bags, jars, and all your zero waste fixings. You’re ready. You’ve done it once or twice but… this is a different store. How does this system work? Do people know how to tare my jars?
I get it.
Zero waste can be overwhelming. Not every cashier knows how to tare everything. Not everyone has seen someone shop in the bulk section before. You can get a few stares. Have to ask for a few special things.
But this is all OKAY!
I once read, “Be weird today. This’ll all be completely normal tomorrow.” And it stuck with me. They might need to call for help. They might need some walking through. But the more cashiers that need to call for help, the more that are learning how to do it for the next person.
This isn’t a problem for everyone. Some people just simply don’t care if they have to ask for a little something special, they believe in it and they’re going to do it – woo! But for many, this is a huge drawback to a sustainable, zero waste lifestyle. I am in the middle of these two outlooks.
So here are a few ways you can go about curbing anxiety in your zero waste lifestyle:
Make A List
Alright, I may be biased here because I am an AVID list maker, BUT it helps. Trust me.
Make your list of what you want at the store. It easy to get flustered when you are trying to figure out what you want, where it is, and how the system works. Cut one of those steps out and write out your grocery list. I just do it right on the notes app on my phone and check it off as I got.
This saves me time, stress, and from grabbing extra tempting snacks…
Pre-Tare Your Jars
Taring your jars means knowing the weight of them when they are completely empty. If you know the tare weight, then you won’t end up paying for the weight of the jar. I simply brought all my jars to the store with me with my china marker. I tared them all and wrote the weight on the lid of the jar. This way I can never be without the weights and I don’t have to do it every time.
This also helps to remind the cashier to tare them as well. When I put all my jars on the counter to check out, I simply say “all the tare weights are on the jar lids.” They then know you are on top of it and prepared. If they need help, they will call for it.
Write Down Your PLUs
A PLU is the number that the cashier has to type in in order to link the weight of your container with a certain product. You can either write them just on the notes of your phone like, “Oatmeal: 4206” or you can bring a china marker with you to the store and write it on the life with the tare weight.
If you write it on the lid, the cashier can just do everything on their own but if you have it on your phone you have to tell them the PLU for every item. I prefer to write it on the lid and just wipe off the marker after I go to the store. Either way works great! By being overprepared, you cannot fail 🙂
Know What You’re Going to Say
By practicing how you are going to phrase a request or a question, you don’t have to think on the spot. Again, be prepared.
If I am getting something from a deli or a bakery and I want them to put it in my container I simply say, “I brought my own jar/bag. Would you mind putting it in there?”. Sometimes you get some confused looks and this is where I normally say, “Just saving the plastic”. Boom. They get it. It’s simple and gets the job done.
If I am ordering a drink without a straw I simply just put “with no straw” into my order. This is a widespread enough movement now that no one questions it anymore. SCORE! “Be weird today. This’ll all be completely normal tomorrow.” Exhibit A!
If I am at a fast food restaurant, fair, food truck, etc where I will get my food with plastic forks or paper plates. I normally just say, “I’m trying to cut down on my waste, would you mind just putting my pretzel in this container instead?” or “I don’t need a fork, I actually have my own”. Most of the time, they get it, don’t question it.
The key phrase that I use if I get any look or questioning eyes is, “just saving the plastic”. People get it. Plastic is a problem that is becoming quite known. People like the idea of it and you normally see their face light up and they’ll say something like, “ahh! Cool!” or “Good for you!” or something along those lines. Who knows, you may plant a seed in their brain to start making changes too!
Go With Friends
An army is always better than one, right? Kinda. If you are a person that likes to be in a crowd, bring a friend! You can inspire each other to go outside of your comfort zone a bit.
Take A Deep Breath & Be Patient
Not everyone is going to get why you are doing it. Not everyone is going to know how to tare jars. But take a deep breath and be patient with yourself and the workers. They are learning and so are we. The more of them that know how to react to people shopping zero waste, the more that will be able to help the next person. You are training them on the world of zero waste too!
Remember that every little effort you make to live more sustainably is an effort in the right direction. You are making a change. Every straw. Every almond bought in bulk instead of packaged. Every. Little. Thing. Helps. No effort is too small. You can do this. It may not be easy at first but just don’t be afraid to be a little bit weird to make this completely normal. You can inspire others by them seeing your lifestyle. Be you. No one else matters. Remember why you started.
Now go out there and kill it! Rock the zero waste lifestyle. I believe in you. Remember:
“Be weird today. This’ll all be completely normal tomorrow.”
As always, comment any questions or added suggestions down below! Have a lovely day foresters!
More posts regarding low waste lifestyles:
- How to Shop in Bulk Without Paying for the Containers
- How to Recycle Your Contact Lenses
- How to Create Less Waste On-The-Go