Tips for reducing food packaging

Purchases to avoid

  • Individual servings. Example: small pots of yogurt or puddings surrounded by cardboard, cheeses, cookies, and baby carrots in snack formats.
  • Fruits and vegetables or meat and fish are placed in styrofoam trays and covered with plastic wrap.
  • Soda, juice or water bottles are held together by plastic ties or in plastic wrap.
  • Toothpaste tubes are presented in cardboard boxes.
  • Shower gel bottles for each member of the family.
  • Prepared meals (frozen or fresh) whose container is not reusable or recyclable.
  • Baked goods are packaged in single servings and often in non-recyclable containers.
  • Packets of sugar or salt packets, mini “squares” of jam or peanut butter.
  • Disposable napkins and utensils.
  • Single-use chemical-soaked wipes and sponges.
  • Dishwasher soap capsules.
  • Products whose packaging bears a “code 6” (non-recyclable).


Preferred purchases

  • Large formats (yogurt, cheese, crackers, etc.) will be transferred to reusable containers for lunches.
  • Whole (not pre-cut) and unpackaged fruits and vegetables.
  • Bulk products (both coffee and muffins, nuts and candies).
  • Cut-to-size meats, cheeses, and fish directly at the counter.
  • Glass containers (which can be reused and recycled better).
  • Laundry products in “concentrated” formulas.
  • Local products (which often have much less elaborate packaging since they require less protection for their transport).
  • Products whose packaging is made from recycled materials.
  • Large water bottles to share between several people.
  • Soap, cleanser, and even make-up refills. (Some businesses even offer the possibility of bringing our old containers and buying this type of product in bulk.)

A few extra tips

It’s not just purchasing choices that can reduce the amount of packaging waste. A few small things to do:

  • Avoid small disposable bags to transport vegetables. A melon, cucumber, or squash will survive very well in the open air in our basket. If we still want these bags, bring them back to the grocery store for our next purchases.
  • We use eco-friendly bags for our more fragile fruits and vegetables. The Métro grocery store has put some on the market and it’s a safe bet that other businesses will follow this example.
  • We ask our butcher or fishmonger not to use Styrofoam to package our products. He is offered to take brown paper, for example.
  • We cook! Whether it’s for meals at home or for lunches, preparing more meals at home avoids the temptation of ready-to-eat foods at the grocery store.
  • We boycott as much as possible companies that offer their products in excess packaging. The drop in profits could make them think about more environmental solutions!
  • We always leave a few reusable bags in the car, in the handbag or near the front door so we can think about using them during our shopping.
  • We refuse to use additional plastic bags to wrap our meat, once at the checkout.


Difficult to change?

It can seem difficult to forgo over-packaging as much as possible. Everyone is in a hurry and making greener choices can seem really complicated. However, if we succeed, not only will the planet thank us, but our wallet too! By avoiding packaging, it is possible to save up to 20% of the value of the product. In addition, giving up several types of packaging risks leading us to healthier choices. So we are winners all the way! Happy grocery shopping!

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