Lifestyle changes to keep debris out of the sea b y Me l i s s a S u t t on- S e ng
Start at farmers markets, where many of the items have no packaging. Shopping there provides the added benefits of extremely fresh prod-ucts
and supporting local businesses.
Take your own bags wherever you shop. The average American family brings home 1,500 plastic grocery bags each year, and most of them
are used for a grand total of about 12 minutes. Most people probably have a collection of reusable bags hanging around the house, so just toss
them in the trunk for your next grocery run.
Save glass jars from things like pasta sauce and jam and keep a few in the car. Use them when shopping from the bulk bins at Tidal Creek
Co-op. (They’ll weigh the jar at customer service.) Tidal Creek will also recycle clean glass jars and bottles, with lids. Some of the large
grocery chains have bulk bin sections as well. Shopping with your own containers at the bulk bins doesn’t just reduce packaging waste. It also
lets you purchase exactly the amount you need of each item, which means not wasting money on food that is eventually thrown away. Invest
in a couple of cases of Mason jars if you love the look of matching jars on your pantry shelves. In a pinch, they work for cold to-go drinks too!
At Cape Fear Spice Merchants in downtown Wilmington, shoppers can buy as much or as little as they want. In addition to rows upon
rows of spices, the store sells specialty olive oils and vinegars, plus an impressive selection of loose-leaf teas. You can bring your own bottles
and jars for it all. Shopping at stores like this is a great way to try new things (and get some cooking inspiration) while cutting back on plastic
A growing number of area businesses have a bottle refill or return program. Several dairies in the region offer milk in glass bottles with a
bottle deposit, and Panacea Brewing Company gives a discount when you bring their glass kombucha bottles back for refills. Keep an eye out
for these, and ask your favorite business if they’d consider a similar system.