How to Shop and a Zero-Waste Kit Giveaway

I have not been compensated for this post. I simply like this product a lot.

I live a short bike ride away from the Googleplex, in the heart of Silicon Valley. I ride past the silly looking self-driving cars nearly every day. I know more engineers than is healthy. In short, technology engulfs me. Yet, I can’t help but notice that the more “advanced” we become, the less we can—or want to—take care of our basic needs, such as feeding ourselves. Truly, we need to relearn many skills, such as how to shop.

Shopping 101

With five pounds going to landfill every day for every American, I think most reasonable people would agree that we must reduce our waste. I suggest starting in the kitchen.

In order to run my zero-waste kitchen, I need to do a bit of planning before I shop, but not much. Before hitting the farmer’s market, grocery store or bulk bins, I take a look at the running shopping list on my phone and add a few things I might need. With list in hand, I then gather my equipment.

1. Glass jars

I use these for bulk items, liquids and berries that I don’t want to transform to jam on the way home. Ask customer service to tare your jars (i.e., weigh them and mark that number on the container) before you fill them up to avoid paying for the weight of the jar. The cashier will deduct the tare when you check out.

2. Glass or metal containers

I use these for meat, fish and poultry (we eat only a little of each.) The butcher will set the scale to zero before placing your order in your container so you pay only for the contents. Or the butcher will look at you completely bewildered. Keep trying. Educate. Win them over with your charm.

3. Cloth produce and bulk bags

If you do nothing else to reduce your waste, get some of these. My daughter and I sewed simple cloth produce bags back in 2011 and they have yet to wear out. I use these for fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s market and grocery store if I don’t make it to the farmer’s market. At the bulk bins I fill these with beans, rice, grains, pasta, nuts…chocolate occasionally 😉

Stitchology kit

Stitchology Zero-Waste Shopping Kit

The owner and designer of Stitchology sent me a zero-waste shopping kit and I would like to raffle it off. This kit sells online for $45, which I think is a good deal. I sew and know that organic cotton—if you can find it—costs a small fortune.

Here’s what’s in the kit:

  • 2 tote bags
  • 3 large drawstring produce/bulk bags
  • 3 medium drawstring produce/bulk bags
  • 3 small drawstring produce/herb bags
  • 1 washable crayon for writing item codes on the bags

Stitchology makes these bags by hand with quality, lightweight, unbleached organic cotton fabric. And the tares are already stamped on them in both ounces (as shown in the pic) and pounds (on the reverse side). So clever! When the bags get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine. (I have beaten my dirty laundry on rocks in a river to clean them and it does work, but I don’t recommend it.) If the bags eventually wear out, you can compost them.

To enter the raffle, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post or on my Facebook or Instagram before noon Pacific time, Saturday, October 3rd if you live in the US (apologies to non-US residents). If you don’t win this zero-waste kit, you can order one—and also individual bags—on the website www.Stitchology.com. I’m not a big consumer and I don’t like to tell people to buy more stuff but I would buy these if I didn’t sew my own (these are nicer than mine…).

Reusable cloth produce and bulk bags are a necessity if you shop for food or eat food.

72 Comment

  1. Great tips! I need to start buying more bulk items, but I’m afraid that I’ll overestimate and end up buying more than I need. The bags look awesome; I love that the tare is already on them! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. I have done that Chris. Eventually I use everything. Just this morning I cooked some white beans I bought in bulk probably in January. Sometimes I go a little crazy. I am more careful with flour. I want that fresh. But some things last for a really long time. The bags are great. I love the tare too. The big stamp is a great way to take care of it. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing! I’m currently a few months in to my journey towards zero-waste. Lots of challenges, but so liberating. Great to have another ally, and a super helpful waste-free shopping kit.

    1. It’s a constant work in progress I think, Erin. But like you say, so liberating. I had no idea when I started all of this that it would bring so much joy. My life has improved so much since I ditched the plastic and other trash.

  3. This looks like a great product! I will definitely check them out. The labeling is really a great idea! Stealing that one.

    1. I am stealing it too, Marci. I don’t have a rubber stamp but I am thinking I could stamp my bags with a potato. My sewing machine does embroidery but the largest letters are fairly small. I love the big stamp!

  4. These are great! I LOVE how the Tare is stamped on the bag and big enough to read! I sew too, but not that well, so would definitely welcome those bags into my reusable bag collection:) Well done. The washable crayon is so smart. I’ve not gotten that far…I usually scribble on my cotton bulk bags with the pen provided at the store. With a little hand scrub it rubs away somewhat. I usually end up writing overtop…never quite organized as yet to reuse the same bag for the same coded items. That shouldn’t take too much forethought, however…I’ll have to convert to the washable crayon/ marker approach. If I can remember to bring my own bags I can certainly learn to bring a washable crayon/ pen 🙂

    1. The tare is awesome and the washable crayon is great too. I’ll have to look through my daughter’s old crayon collection for a washable one. We must have one… If you are at the point where your biggest problem is reusing the same bags for the same items, you are doing a great job, I would say 🙂

  5. LOVE these Anne Marie! I’ve been using mesh laundry bags (like the kind for delicates) at the store, but I like these so much better! And the washable crayon idea is genius! Thanks for sponsoring this contest 🙂

    1. Aren’t they great, Karen? Laundry bags works too. Whatever works!

  6. Ooh! Like the crayon idea. Almost done reading Plastic Free, and just got an alert from the library that the Good Gut is FINALLY ready for me!

    1. The crayon idea and giant tare are a big hit, judging from the comments here and on FB and IG. Oooh, you’ll love The Good Gut! All the research into the gut microbiota is so exciting! It’s going to transform health and healthcare. Enjoy!

    2. Hi Elisabeth! I finally did a random drawing and you won the bags! Will you please email me your mailing address at annemarie@zerowastechef.com? I’ll mail you the bags faster than I did this drawing :p

      1. What?!? That’s amazing! Thank you, and will do!

  7. Love these bags! They will be well used! 🙂

    1. They’re really well done, Linda. And they look like they will last for a really long time.

  8. Your blog looks different! I didn’t recognize it!

    1. I changed the template. It’s a work in progress 😉 One day, I’ll get self-hosted WordPress. But this works for now…so little time!

  9. Those bags look great! I work in a grocery store, so I usually just don’t take bags when I have the option, but that doesn’t work as well at the farmer’s market. It’s crazy how many bags some people use. Totally baffling.

    1. All the plastic bags drive me nuts! The other day I saw someone put bananas in a plastic produce bag at the grocery store :/ But on the bright side, when I shop, people regularly ask me about my bags and jars and they seem very enthusiastic about trying it themselves.

  10. I need more of these! Sometimes I walk into the store and realize I didn’t bring enough jars, so these would be more than welcome in my stash of bags!

    1. That saying “you can never be rich or too thin” should really be “you can never have enough jars or produce bags” 😉 I use mine for shopping and storage and can always use more. I’ll let you know if you’re the winner Becky.

  11. great bags would fill all my needs when shopping

    1. You’re in the draw Tori 🙂

  12. I would love to win this! Ive been wanting to switch to cloth produce bags!

    1. The switch makes a huge difference Jodi. Plus the food looks more appetizing and shopping is more fun. (I forgot to mention that in my post…)

  13. I love the weight stamped right on the bag – and such a great idea to have smaller produce sized bags. I’m finally used to grabbing my totes when I go into a store this seems like a great next step!

    1. The tare stamp is brilliant Michelle. And the different sizes are very handy. I agree, these are a great next step 🙂

  14. Thanks for the chance to win a fabulous giveaway.

    1. You’re welcome Brandy 🙂 Thanks for checking out the post.

  15. Please enter me in the raffle! Thanks!! Good luck everyone!

    1. You’re in the raffle, Chris 🙂 Good luck!

  16. I love the way these are done! Thanks for offering a raffle for such a useful and practical thing!

    1. I love them too, Laura. The designer thought of everything.

  17. This is amazing! I would love to win!

    1. Thanks Mireille. You’re in the drawing!

  18. I would love this kit! I have mesh produce bags, bu don’t work for herbs or flour. The crayon is also a brilliant idea! I always type the codes into my phone.

    1. I have to find a washable crayon in my daughter’s stash. It’s a great idea! No, mesh aren’t so good for flour 😉

  19. I just came back from doing my shop. I have manages to reduce my costs by about €30 per week since focusing on zero waste in the kitchen (inspired by u). I have been trying to reduce packaging….difficult with no bulk shops around (I live in Ireland). However looking at the food alone and simplifying what is in my presses has reduced the waste, stress, cost and stress of managing a kitchen and it’s contents for a family of six. Love your site x

    1. Thanks so much for that Olivia 🙂 €30 per week is quite a bit of money! I definitely save money with my shopping habits even though I buy very expensive ingredients. I can make a meal out of almost nothing these days. Cutting the waste has forced me to use everything up, buy less and be more creative in the kitchen.

  20. Ignore all my bad grammes above please ; )

    1. OlIvia, have you found any bulk? Or any success buying with your own containers? We spend half the year in Clare and it’s been next to impossible, unless I go direct to a farm

      1. There is a food co op in limerick that is introducing bulk. They got a lot of funding to put it in place. They said they will also have household products in bulk. I am hoping we can work in a trip once a month.
        It is hard to get bulk, however I do love the bread in lidl which I buy with my cloth bags.
        Will find the name of co op and get back to you

      2. This is great! I’ve heard from many people in the UK that bulk is somewhat rare.

      3. Hi Sarah,

        The Co op is http://www.urbanco-op.ie keep an eye for when they start with bulk

        we sometimes bring our jars into the market in the Milkmarket on Saturday mornings, they are very accommodating,
        http://Www.milkmarketlimerick.ie
        Great for fresh local produce

        Good luck
        Olivia

      4. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this info Olivia 🙂

  21. Those bags are adorable 🙂 I love using cloth bags when I shop, I avoid that lovely random pile of plastic bags that everyone seems to have in their homes.

    1. They are very nicely done, Candice. I love using my cloth bags too. May as well try to make everyday tasks like shopping more pleasant. I actually enjoy filling up my cloth bags. I doubt I ever felt that way about a plastic bag.

  22. Erica Stearns says: Reply

    Wow! These are awesome. I’m tackling zero-waste slowly (or maybe it is methodically) and it is so thrilling to see that usable products, like these, are available to inspire folks to hop on board this lifestyle! Thanks for the awareness and obviously the giveaway opportunity!

    1. You’re welcome, Erica. We tackled plastic-free and zero-waste slowly too. I think that’s the best way when changing habits. Otherwise I think it can get discouraging.

  23. What a great giveaway. I just really started bulk shopping and I love the tare weights on these. Thanks!

    1. I love the tares too, Jenny. It’s such a clever way to handle them.

  24. I hadn’t thought about taking in glass jars for bulk items and meat. Love the reusable bags. Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. I take lots of jars to the store with me, Ann. They can hear me coming 😉

  25. Kathryn Rickard, Psy.D. says: Reply

    Your site is so impressive, Anne-Marie! You’re doing so much good for the planet. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for that and for checking out my site, Kathryn 🙂

  26. Ooh! I have some silk and organic cotton produce bags, but the cost of buying more is prohibitive at the moment. Nice giveaway!

    I dig the changes you’ve made in your own life and that you share them. Sustainability has only entered my consciousness within the last year or so, and I’m making changes step by step. Sites like yours help!

    1. Thanks so much for that Angela 🙂 I think step-by-step is the way to go. Oooh that’s nice fabric for bags. I sewed some bags out of a silk/cotton blend and they work so well. Nice and lightweight.

  27. Printing the tare right on the bag is genius!

    1. I thought so too Lydia 🙂 Such a great idea.

  28. The whole foods near me doesn’t let us bring in our own containers even though they have giant bulk selection! Other store does though and could use the bags there or at the awesome farmers markets. I finally tasted sauerkraut after thinking I didn’t like it as a kid and have a new favorite food. Next step is making it!

    1. Other people have told me that about their Whole Foods, Sarah 🙁 Yes, the bags are great for the farmer’s market. I’m happy to hear you like sauerkraut. It’s the gateway ferment 😉

  29. Who wouldn’t want those lovely bags. Going to check out their website. By the way, I do have a US address if ever required!

    1. They are so nicely made, Hilda. Should I enter you in the drawing then? If you win, I can mail the bags to your US address.

  30. Thanks for sharing. I love to cook but don’t sew at all. The sewing machine and I have never mixed.

    1. Thanks for checking out the post, Pat 🙂

  31. I’m sorry I missed the contest deadline, but I LOVE your ending! I can tell you’re not here to sell stuff, and I really appreciate that. So sticking to the facts that “if you shop for food, or eat food.” is beautifully simplistic! 🙂

    1. Thanks for much RS. I try to tell it like it is 😉

  32. Great ideas! I am trying to go Zero Waste but it is pretty hard for me still. I started with trying to reduce my waste two months ago. Your ideas are very good! Using cloth and bulk bags, glass jars and containers help to reduce the plastic usage really much! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Lynda 🙂 Well I see all of this as a work in progress. New challenges pop up and I continue to learn as I go. Shopping with reusables really does make a huge difference and it’s not difficult to do.

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