Since I’ve moved out of home and up the coast to Queensland, I’ve really put in the time, effort and research to make my shopping routine as low-waste, sustainable, and ethical as possible. I looked at this move as a fresh start, and I wanted to make all areas of my life line up with my values of living a natural, zero-waste and planet-friendly life. So, here are a few ways to grocery shop sustainably, ethically, and completely zero-waste!
What does your shopping routine look like? Be honest. Mine involved driving to my local supermarket, buying the items I needed, then driving on home again. I would barely buy anything organic, as there was only one tiny section at our local store with very limited options, and I never went to the markets for food, as it seemed too much of a hassle to get up early and go on my weekends off.
It’s only since I moved out of home that I’ve really put in the effort to make my shopping routine as low-waste, sustainable, and ethical as possible.
So, here are a few tips I’ve learnt along the way to grocery shop sustainably, ethically, and plastic-free.
Before we get started in learning how to grocery shop zero-waste – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes, DIYs, gardening and health tips I share!!
Your Guide to Grocery Shopping for People and Planet
Remember, only buy if you NEED it.
The Source Bulk Foods
Values: ~ Zero-waste ~ Organic ~ Affordable (because they believe buying quality products shouldn’t cost the earth) ~ Waste conscious ~ Natural ~
Products: Selected grains, beans, oils, baking, wellness, health, cleaning products, snacks, and more!
Who Are They?
The Source Bulk Foods is a retail store that allows you to buy as much or as little as you need in bulk. This style of shopping not only reduces the use of unnecessary packaging, but also reduces food wastage. You can bring your own containers and glass jars to collect the food items you need, or they supply brown paper bags and jars for you to use if you don’t have any containers with you! You can also do your bulk food shopping all online.
This retail company donates part of their profits to the organisation Sea Shepherd, who help to defend, conserve and protect the world’s oceans. So far they’ve managed to donate over $75,000 AUD.
The Source Bulk Foods view this type of shopping as a way to ‘contribute to the sustainability of the environment and support organisations, charities and communities that are leading the push for a better, cleaner world.’
I’ve loved how easy and simple the process is of shopping at the bulk foods store, and how easy it is to collect any of the food items I need. They have all the dry goods you could possibly need, so I only need to go to the local farmers market on the weekends to collect fresh goods.
My personal favourites are their organic nut and seed range, gluten-free flours, nut butters, legumes, lentils, local raw honey, organic dark chocolate, dried fruits, superfood powders, herbs and spices, oils, organic monk fruit powder, and cleaning products like laundry liquid and powder, dishwashing liquid, and bathroom cleaner.
Once having collected as much of the dry food items as I can – and still be able to ride my bike home – this is how I store them.
How to Store Dry Bulk Foods
When you shop bulk, stock up on your healthy flours, seeds, nuts, legumes, etc. so your pantry is full of the things you need, ready for meal preps. You do end up spending a little more up front, but you can save loads over the long-term.
How I do this…
Schedule a time to go to the bulk foods store nearest you with your reusable bags, containers, and jars. Fill up. Bring home and store in airtight, bug-proof jars. Then use your ingredients as needed! Keep an updated list of the things you need restocked for the next bulk store run.
Local Organic Farmers Market
To find the nearest organic farmers market to me, I simply use Google search.
Values: ~ Zero-waste ~ Organic ~ Affordable ~ Natural ~ Australian sourced ingredients (all locally grown) ~
Products: 100 percent organic certified fresh, seasonal and local produce.
About the Market
The local organic farmers market can only sell 100% certified organic produce, which is the ONLY food production system that is policed. They guarantee truly chemical-free, clean, healthy, nutrient-dense food. Their Certified Organic farmers are regularly inspected, soils are tested, environmental care and animal care are guaranteed, and they pay fees to be classified as “CERTIFIED ORGANIC.”
During the course of each month, this market also arranges different community stalls which promote environmental awareness, and natural health practices and activities.
They also have a number of stalls that are set up at different intervals (rather than on a weekly basis), e.g. organic clothing and bedding, wild Alaskan salmon, etc.
I was just in my element here at the organic farmer’s market. If I could have taken everything home with me, I would have (I ended up filling three giant bagfuls of groceries – which I then had to carry home on a bus…). The only downside I’ve found is that organic produce is way more pricey than conventionally-grown foods. However, I’ve managed to make my grocery hauls last a couple of weeks, so it’s ended up being around the same price (the perks of buying for one).
Values: ~ Organic ~ Affordable ~ Australian sourced ingredients ~ Natural ~
Products: A selected variety of bulk dry foods, oils, sprouted bread, baking, wellness, health, cleaning products, snacks, organic biodynamic dairy products like milk, cheese, kefir and yoghurt, a range of supplements, skincare, sauces, and more.
Who Are They?
Flannerys is one of Australia’s leading natural organic health food stores and wholefoods market, providing healthy alternatives to a range of products, such as certified organic fresh fruit and vegetables, organic grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood, gluten free alternatives like pasta, breads and crackers, organic and biodynamic dairy products, fermented goods like sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh, cruelty free skincare, vitamin and supplement range (which is mainly plant based), and more. They even have naturopaths / nutritionists in-store to help offer free advice and help you out with any questions you may have.
Flannerys view this way of shopping as path to ‘creating a healthier, happier world by enhancing wellness through good food.’
I’ve been shopping at Flannerys for the past year now and just love how they have a range of better quality alternatives for a variety of products I need. I buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables when I run out of fresh produce during the week (the farmers market is only on the weekends), organic biodynamic dairy products like milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt, fermented goods like coconut milk kefir, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught seafood, pasta sauce, pasta noodles (gluten-free options like chickpea or konjac noodles), and dried fruit like mango or pineapple from their bulk foods section.
Organic Grass-fed Butcher
Values: ~ Organic ~ Affordable ~ Australian sourced ingredients ~ Ethical ~ Environmentally conscious ~ Natural ~
Products: Organic grass-fed meat and free range poultry. They also have a range of off cuts, gluten-free sausages, and organ meats.
Who Are They?
Prime Valley Organic Meats source their livestock direct from grass-fed certified organic and free range farms that have been selected based on their dedication to producing livestock using environmentally-friendly, sustainable and natural farming practices; including ethical treatment of their livestock and resulting high quality products.
The way the animals are raised and how they’re treated is of the utmost importance. To ensure this, they’ve partnered with certified organic farmers, who provide meat free from from antibiotics, hormones and chemicals.
I’ve been shopping at the organic butchers for just over three months now (I’ve only recently added meat back into my diet), and my usual purchases are beef bones with marrow (to make bone broth with), organic beef mince, organic gluten-free beef sausages, and lamb liver. I bring my own reusable containers with me to the butchers for them to pack the meat into, so I don’t require any of the plastic bags or paper packaging they give to place the meat in. I find this helps in avoiding single use plastics, and also prevents the meat sitting in plastic, which can invite plastic chemicals like BPA and phthalates to leach into the food.
Wild-Caught Fish Market
Values: ~ Local ~ Affordable ~ Australian sourced ingredients ~ Wild-caught ~ Natural ~
Products: Wild-caught Moreton Bay bugs, tiger prawns, banana prawns, king prawns, squid, Balmain bugs, whiting, flathead, octopus, crayfish, barramundi, snapper, redfish, scallops, and more.
Who Are They?
The Tasman Star Seafood Market source their fish fresh from the sea, travelling up and down the east coast of Australia, going south to Coffs Harbour and north to Mooloolaba, catching the best local seafood for their market. Unfortunately, they do use a trawler to catch their seafood with, which isn’t great as millions of tons of sea life find themselves engulfed in trawl nets each year. I have inquired further about their fishing practices and whether they apply any sustainable efforts to help minimise the impact of fishing (and trawling) on the marine environment, and am waiting to hear back from them. I will keep you posted once I hear more.
I’ve been shopping at this wild-caught fish market for just over a week now, but I’m still in the process of looking for a more sustainably-sourced fish market to shop from. This market is lovely in that the people are super friendly and helpful, and they have a wide variety of fresh, local, wild-caught fish to choose from. I only buy one or two fish items a week, and I bring my own reusable containers with me for them to place the fish in, so I don’t require any of the plastic bags or paper packaging. I find this helps in avoiding single use plastics, and also prevents the fish sitting in plastic, which can invite plastic chemicals to leach into the food.
I do believe that the most sustainable way to consume fish is by catching it yourself, and then only collecting what you need. No more, no less. I hope to one day learn how to fish, so that I can ensure the process is as sustainable as possible, and I know exactly how it was caught, and that no other marine life was harmed in the process.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you shopped at a bulk foods store or local farmer’s market before? What was your experience? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,