OK, so the majority of us, I’ve noticed, have managed to make the transition from going to the grocery store empty-handed to bringing re-usable grocery bags. Good. We can check that off of our low-carbon/earth-friendly lists.
Now, it’s time for the next step. And it can be a doozy!
One of the things that really impressed me about Colin Beavan’s (aka No-Impact Man) yearlong experiment was that he produced very little waste. I knew that meant taking containers to the grocery store, but how does that work exactly, I wondered? Thoughts of clanging to the store with glass jars and empty tins seemed a little repellent.
Thankfully, an opportunity presented itself. I eat a lot of oatmeal and keep all of the tins to reuse, which have been stacking up at an alarming rate. Then I found out that our store offers steel-cut oats in bulk. I could see a faint connection forming.
Here’s the reuse tip: although stores don’t seem to promote this service at all you can take your old containers to a clerk and they’ll weigh them and put a little sticker on them so that amount can be subtracted from the overall weight during checkout.
I was thrilled. I had my reusable mesh bags for my veggies (some produce just roamed free in my cart) and now I had my tagged oatmeal tin. I wheeled to the checkout counter with a song in my heart, unaware of any potential pitfalls.
Avoid this mistake: the clerk trudged through identifying all of the vegetables in mesh bags and weighed all of the loose fruit, but scanned my old tin. I had labeled the tin and it had a weight sticker, but I had forgotten to cross off the bar code. Oops! I paid a premium for the bulk oats.
Lesson learned. The barcode has since been scribbled out. Now, my reusable tin is armed for the next trip to the store. Is anyone else taking reusable containers to the grocery store?