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Simple steps to avoid plastic at the grocery store and beyond

Reducing the amount of plastic in our lives can be challenging. Torontonian and zero-waster, Sophi Robertson shares her top tips on going plastic-free.

1. Shop in bulk. You can bring your own containers such as jars and reusable cloth bags. If you have big glass jars, have them weighed at the register before you fill them up. If you’re travelling light, clean and empty yogurt containers work great, too.

2. Reusable shopping bags. The best way to make reusable shopping bags a habit is to keep them in a handy place. Robertson keeps one in her backpack, in the car and at work. Reusable produce bags are another way to cut down on those thin clear plastics ones. Another option - see if you can avoid those bags all together. Depending on the produce, place it directly in your reusable shopping bag and unload it at the till.  If those aren’t an option, there are usually paper bags near the mushrooms that work great for small items.

3. Pick recyclable packaging. Like paper, aluminum or glass which are easier to recycle than plastic. Pick containers that you can recycle in your region or that you can reuse yourself. If you have to buy products wrapped in plastic, try to choose the largest quantity to make it worth the packaging.

4. Say no to straws. This is probably the easiest way to reduce plastic in your life.

5. Reusable mugs. Sometimes cafes will pour your drink into a disposable cup before it goes into your own container, so be prepared to specify that you’re using that mug to cut down on unnecessary waste. 

Remember: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Robertson says people should use what they have - you don’t need to buy all new products to go waste-free. For the best rate of success, she says take baby steps to reduce your plastic intake - don’t try to quit cold turkey. Pick one thing on the list, master it, and move onto the next so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Robertson runs an Instagram account where she shares more tips on living a zero-waste life, you can follower her at @yourecofriend.