Sustainable Life Hacks: Green-Up Your Grocery Store Habits

EDITOR’S NOTE: Water cooler conversations at Green Mountain Energy often center on sustainability and conservation. This blog series features some of our best ideas, or “life hacks,” to help you manage your daily activities more efficiently.

On the way to the grocery store, are you accustomed to throwing your reusable bags over your shoulder to cut down on plastic bag consumption? Despite your best intentions, you may still end up with an excess of bags or other items thanks to fruits and veggies in the produce section. Plastic bags, twist-ties, rubber bands and other food containers may also find their way to your home.

Read on for a few ideas on how to reuse and recycle these items fun or useful ways!

Produce bags

  • If you forget your tote bags at home, there are several ways to reuse the plastic produce bags from the store. EX: Picking up after Fido in the yard (instead of purchasing more plastic baggies for this scenario)
  • Produce bags (as well as plastic bags from the store) can be used to line wastebaskets at home to keep the wastebasket clean
  • While it is best to compost food waste, if you don’t have that option in a small apartment, throw messy scraps such as fat from meat into the plastic before dumping in the trashcan so that the meat doesn’t leak through
  • In lieu of disposable produce bags, create your own from old t-shirts!

Twist-ties and rubber bands

  • Twist-ties and rubber bands don’t have to be discarded immediately! Twist-ties can be reused when packing your own lunches for work
  • Try bundling cords, cables and more with color-coded ties to organize your home
  • If you’ve ever popped a button on a blouse or pair of pants, use twist-ties as a quick-fix to address the wardrobe malfunction
  • We’ve got a slew of ideas on rubber bands. Read on.

Glass and plastic food containers

  • Some foods like deli meat and cheeses, cottage cheese, butter and the larger sizes of yogurt come in handy plastic containers that, simply washed, can be reused as Tupperware. Bring your lunch to work or pack a snack for the car in these containers
  • Larger containers can hold kids’ toys, such as Legos, beads, doll accessories, etc.
  • Glass jars (think jellies, pickles, etc.) can be reused as nice candle holders or vases. Just add a decorative touch, such as a ribbon or piece of lace tied around the middle

Egg cartons and milk cartons

  • The beauty of egg cartons is their useful and unique shape! Egg cartons can be severed in two to hold lots of goodies, such as paint for an art project, beads for a jewelry project, dry noodles for a kid’s craft project and or office supplies (such as tacks, pins, stables, etc.)
  • Milk cartons also have multiple uses. In the quart and gallon variety, they can be used as planters for small house plants and seedlings, bird houses (just cut a hole in the center) and bird-feeders (cut a square in the mid-center and layer bird food in the bottom.)

What else did we forget? Share in the comments below!