what’s inside your zero waste grocery tote?

Welcome to another installment of zero waste home management. I am your host, Elaine Tucker. 

Today we’re taking a look inside my tote bag. I carry this tote every time we hit the grocery.

Step 1: get a tote to hold totes. 

 photo C59AF9B6-20E4-451B-82D3-6D970A66CDB4-40573-000027DF76A7584C_zps68215e16.jpg

^^^ As you can see everything you need will still fit inside the tote bag that you already take with you. you take totes to the grocery, right? ^^^

Step 2: put this stuff in it.

 photo 4D101C0E-F6B5-4402-9137-2C5825623E41-40573-000027DF8D990D95_zpsb0547566.jpg

^^^ so here’s the stash laid out. Various containers, bags & my important erasable crayon ^^^

 photo 4D7D2202-4868-46A2-9C2B-D4CF5B26C182-40573-000027DFAA1BF635_zps8da40e7a.jpg

^^^ so here we can see two other totes that fold up inside the original tote. in the top left hand corner we have lightweight, plastic containers that come in 3 sizes and fit inside one another nicely when empty. these are my bulk item containers. i’ve used the same ones for at least 6 months now with washings in between store trips.  i procured them at market district because that’s where i do most of my bulk shopping but whole foods also has a bag system if you’d rather go that route. I think the plastic containers are easiest and stack in a pantry nicely. You can also see my produce bags peeking out but we’re not ready for you yet, friends  ^^^

 photo 5A5B6A46-6666-454C-BD98-74E0ADE98580-40573-000027DFB8D664C9_zpsfa2668be.jpg

^^^ now we are! fabric produce bags top right hand corner, a saved produce bag does just as well, a reusable plastic bag delegated to rice items since we buy a lot of that at one time and my saved coffee bag for the self-serve whole bean department ^^^

 photo E3504D97-2058-476A-97B5-DE63C522034E-40573-000027DFC73DF268_zpsb74a07da.jpg

^^^ my take-out containers center stage. these are used at the deli for meats and cheeses and occasionally for bulk pasta and OLIVES! Bottom left-hand corner is my refillable liquids container for olive or canola oil or balsamic vinegar. i also have a refillable honey bear that didn’t make it into the pic ^^^

 photo 539FD5D0-C6B8-46D8-A380-21D432D1752E-40573-000027DFD602E057_zps184afc4f.jpg

^^^ and this little guy is my secret weapon. it’s my erasable crayon pen so i can write the PLU #s on the top of each container. I’m often letting others borrow it as there is always a shortage of pens in the bulk items section. Any washable marker would do ^^^

are you thinking this looks like a lot of work? like any other habit, once you’re used to it, it doesn’t take much extra time at all. in fact, i save time in the grocery now because i’m not going into the center aisles. everything i need is in the perimeter.

the workability of this systems lies somewhere between turning the car around when you forget the totes and saying “yes, i’ll take paper” when you’ve run out of room in the totes and have some overflow. i’m dedicated enough to make the effort but flexible enough to let it go if i need to use a plastic produce bag every once in a while. plus, you only forget the tote 2 times at the most. after that it’s engrained in your memory FOREVER.

and i didn’t make all these changes at once. i started small and kept adding measures gradually. if you don’t think you can do all of these then focus on the ones you can. I started with the reusable totes and containers for the deli counter and it has progressed from there. it’s about progress not perfection. i personally believe it’s my job as a consumer to make sure i’m making ethical choices. a whole lot of throw away plastic is not ethical for me. so i’ve made progress where and when I can.

have i inspired you yet? please feel free to leave a comment if you do your own zero waste grocery shopping. if anyone has an idea that i’ve left out please leave it in that comment section.



on tuesday morning i got out my note pad which had been partnered up at the bar with my gal pal and and i to re-read some of the snippets of the previous night’s convos. if some of you are not narcissistic enough to have done this yet, i highly suggest it.

my eyes settled on this one: “the only thing you should buy in bulk is peanut butter.”  hmmm when taken out of context it actually sounds like good advice. i can assure you that during the actual conversation, it was not.

nevertheless, i put that on my to-do list for the week and little lady and i stopped into Krema today for an out-of-this-world peanut butter and strawberry jam sammich and our bulk butter.


in case you missed that it says 5 LBS! 5 lbs of natural peanut butter goodness and it’s all mine….i mean ours. i guess i could spare a pound.

i’m pretty happy about the idea of getting this little guy in bulk and not dealing with at least 7 little jars it would take to equal it. can i count this as a zero-wasting-the-home effort?

welcome to the good life where the peanut butter flows like mead. now i wish we had 5 lbs of mead.

oh and by the way, peanut butter paired with grape jelly is total bullshit. peanut butter paired with strawberry jam is, well, the JAM. never. looking. back.

how i work it

i bet you thought this was going to be a post about how i keep this figure all nice and trim. no, silly. it’s about how i work the green bean delivery system for our house.

i do our green bean delivery on a every other week schedule. the minimum delivery order is $35. everyone spends at least $35 on groceries every two weeks so this service could be applicable to everyone. except train hobos.

green bean has several different options for bin sizes and delivery frequency – once a week or bi-weekly – but we get the smallest produce bin every other week. then i add milk – either snowville or hartzler, – eggs from a local farmer and the cartons get returned and reused, and then i get something protein related. i have always loved the quality of meat we get from their partners and lately i have been very into the luna burger selections.

by covering our produce, milk, eggs, and protein once every other week i have greatly reduced the time spent in the grocery store.

now, it does take a few minutes of your time to customize your order online, but i have to say it is considerably less than what you would spend in the store. especially if you have a little lassie who is asking you for cookies, fruit snacks, graham crackers and a balloon all simultaneously.

Be sure to sign up for Green Bean delivery and get your first order by next week at $15 off! Use “MomJeanz” in the promo code and my name in the “referred by” section. Be sure to let me know which system has worked for you.

nutrition in your jeanz

this is the first of many subsequent posts to try to talk you into subscribing to Green Bean Delivery Service.

i first want to state that i approached Green Bean about offering readers a discount. I did this because i really, truly love what they provide for our family and i wanted to back them up. simple.

this service saves me time going to the grocery store. This service provides me with a network of farmers, grocers and local artisans that I can purchase from and have goods sent directly to our doorstep. Really. It’s there every other week. on the doorstep. Darla loves to help me go through it and see what surprises we have awaiting us. So, there is the entertainment factor.

this service has introduced me to new foods that i never would have picked out for our family of my own volition. Can you believe i had never had an acorn squash before green bean? i could never live without them now. the items that come in your delivery are completely customizable but sometimes i just like to go with the surprise on the chance that i’m going to really fall in love with a new item. sometimes i go in and substitute out the things we eat less of for something i know we’ll love but most of the time i like to use it as a challenge to expand horizons. to each his own, right?

this service saves me from impulse buys and has changed how we snack in this house. the bottom shelf of our pantry used to house a variety of chips and crackers. i thought that because i was buying whole grain and organic options that it was still ok. but now that shelf has been empty for quite a while. we are now snackers of peppers, cauliflower and broccoli.

this service supports local commerce and has a commitment to sustainable grocery shopping. the bins are reusable. items come packaged in recyclable brown bags when possible and anything that needs to be in a plastic bag comes in a biodegradable corn-based bag.  these are really important pieces of the puzzle for me.

i could go on and on but i’m stopping here b/c it’s 12:33 am and i’m tired. plus, this isn’t the last you’ve heard from me about our dear green bean

*to sign up and get $15 off your first order type MomJeanz (case sensitive) into the promo code and Elaine Tucker into the “referred by” section. welcome to the luxurious produce lifestyle.

milk rotation

as if i don’t have enough on my plate i seem to think it is a good idea to over complicate things by having a schedule for our milk buying. yes, a schedule. it’s a dilemma people.

here’s our milk rotation:

snowville creamery – gets delivered to us in our green bean delivery. pros are that it is local, grass grazed, less pasteurized, very tasty. cons = not organic, packaged in cardboard which is not reusable even though it’s recyclable, a bit on the pricey side, and only available in 2% and whole. we lean towards 1%.

stay with me. it gets better.

hartzler dairy – this used to be our go to in the grocery but now our closest store doesn’t carry it since we moved. but i just saw that hartzler was added to green bean so now things are going to get even trickier. pros = grass fed, local, extremely tasty, packaged in glass deposit bottle that is reused. no waste home friendly. cons = priciest option and out of the way to obtain. also not organic. only available in skim, whole, and 2%. rats.

wait for it…

nature’s basket 1% and soy milk – this is what we now pick up when we run out in between our green bean delivery. i just juggle back and forth between cow’s milk and soy. i can’t make a decision. which one is more ethical? which one will save the world the most? which one is better for our bodayyyys? i can’t handle the pressure!!!!

ok anyway i’m bored with typing all these pros and cons out. you get my drift. you now see how this is completely insane that i actually put mental thought into these choices but sometimes i feel like the weight of the next 7 generations depends on which milk jug i choose. why? because of that damn 7th generation slogan, that’s why. and because i care goshdangitalltohell. because i really do believe that the products i buy today will effect tomorrow.

you know that lady who’s been standing in the milk aisle for 10 minutes just staring at the rows and rows of milk. that’s me. if you see me, for the love of Jove, please just pick up the carton closest to you and put it in my hand and then push me onward to more pressing matters.

this life of trials and tribulations is not for everyone, but it’s the path i’m destined to walk. don’t cry for me, Argentina.

*obviously this is a first world problem and i’m providing this little write-up for proof and parody that this way of life is insane. and i’m insane. we’re all insane. yes, even you. now go forth an do good deeds. be bold and mighty forces will come to your aide.