Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge: Target

Throughout the next couple of months, I will be working on the Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge. I'm repping the Pacific US: "Hella, Dude, Cowabunga." ...although most of my grocery stores are national.

The zero waste grocery store challenge goes to target! Join me on my low waste trip to target and see what options are out there from www.goingzerowaste.com

breakdown of who's who and where:

-East: Meredith from Meredith TestedTrader Joe's, Costco, Hannaford Supermarket, and Wal-Mart.
-South: Manuela from The Girl Gone Green: will be going to Aldi, Publix, Thrive, and Wal-Mart.
-Midwest: Celia from Litterless: will be taking you to Kroger, Jewel-Osco, and Wal-Mart.
-West: Andrea of Be Zero: will be featuring Lucky’s, Safeway, and Wal-Mart.
-Pacific: Kathryn of Going Zero Waste will be visiting Target, Grocery Outlet, and Wal-Mart.
Follow the #ZWGroceryChallenge on social media and join in! Share your triumphs, challenges, questions, and requests! 

a note on sustainability at chain stores: 

Here's the deal. Yes, it is absolutely ideal to buy all of your food from bulk with as little packaging as possible. It's ideal to buy from a local shop in your community that obtains all of its goods from local, sustainable organic farms. But, I'm going to say this again for the people in the back, NOT EVERYONE LIVES IN AN IDEAL WORLD

I have received several not so nice emails from several readers explaining how awful all of these grocery stores are and how this destroys any goodwill I've put out in the world for the store's lack of ethical, social, and eco ethos. 

Instead of focusing on being perfect, I want to focus on making sure low waste options are accessible to everyone. Not everyone has a health food store in their town. 

This blog is NOT about being perfect. This is NOT a place for judgment.  As Meredith says, I am not trying to win zero waste. This is NOT a competition. 

This is about doing the best you can, where you are and sometimes that's Walmart or Target.

I want the zero waste movement to grow far and wide. I want everyone in the world involved, and it's important we don't limit zero waste to only those who have access. We shouldn't limit it to only those who are perfect. Everyone can make a difference.

Everyone can make better choices. So, I want to show you some of the better choices when it comes to Target. 

**steps off soap box**

my grocery store is closing: 

I started this challenge when I realized my local grocery store is closing. The only grocery stores I have in town are bargain markets like Smart and Final, Grocery Outlet, Food Maxx and big box stores like Super Target and Walmart. 

A lot of these stores lack a large selection of healthy food. 

The local grocery store I was going to, Raley's, had a small bulk section. I now have no local offering in bulk, and I officially live in a food swamp. 

"A food swamp is an area where there's an overabundance of high-energy, low-nutrient foods (read: fast food) compared to healthy food options. Low-income communities are usually the swampiest, with nearly twice the number of fast food restaurants and convenience stores as wealthier neighborhoods."

I am so grateful for our farmers market where I buy the large selection of fresh produce that is year round. I completely realize how fortunate I am.

A lot of folks don't have it as good as I do, so for that, I feel very fortunate and blessed. Our community is also working on opening up a co-op which will fill a huge void in our city.  

If your city is also missing wholesome, good food, you might be the solution. Maybe it's your job to fill the void. Don't be afraid of starting a co-op! A lot of co-ops start out of people's garages. Go in with some neighbors to get large quantities of good whole food delivered to your door. 

what I bought at target: 

Please check out what I bought and why I bought it. I did supplement with my farmers market haul this week because the produce section was severely lacking!! 

At target I spent $80. Which is WAY more than I normally spend at the bulk store when I stock up on dry goods, but I did buy a lot of specialty items I don't normally buy. 

With all of these groceries I plan on making nachos, hummus, veggie burgers. PB&J, grilled cheese, chocolate chip cookies, veggie lasagna, pancakes, summer salads, and oatmeal. 

other things I found at target: 


I hope you enjoyed this zero waste challenge.

I will be keeping track of ALL the recycling, trash, and dry compostables (paper, not food scraps) throughout this challenge. 

Next month I'll be taking you to Grocery Outlet. Let know if you have any tips! 

4 Tips for Staying Zero Waste When Dining Out

There's nothing that makes me happier than going out to eat for a nice meal. 

How to stay zero waste while dining out from www.goingzerowaste.com

Growing up, going out to dinner was a treat! All of life's major accomplishments like getting straight A's, shooting an 86 on the golf course, or getting the lead in the school play were celebrated with skipping the cooking and the dishes. 

In fact, when I graduated from college I chose not to walk, (Because honestly sitting with a couple of thousand people waiting to hear my name called is the last thing I want to do) all I wanted was to go out to a really nice dinner with family. 

If you're dining in a very nice restaurant you're most likely to encounter real everything. I honestly can't imagine going out to eat at a nice restaurant and being given a paper plate, can you? 

However, Justin and I rarely go to really nice restaurants. We're more of dive people. We enjoy the atmosphere and it's in our budget. ;)

When visiting dives, it can be hit or miss on the disposables. 

1. ask for no straw:

This takes practically no effort. 500 million straws are used in the US in ONE DAY. One day, people. That's a lot of straws. 

When going out to eat, request no straw in your drink. You might get one anyways. If you do, be kind. But, it's always best to try and refuse. 

This drink didn't need a straw. Mom says straws give you pucker wrinkles. Saving the environment and wrinkle prevention - that's a win, win. Please note, that I still have an umbrella coming out of my drink. 

This drink didn't need a straw. Mom says straws give you pucker wrinkles. Saving the environment and wrinkle prevention - that's a win, win. Please note, that I still have an umbrella coming out of my drink. 

If you're feeling especially bold, send your favorite local restaurants a polite email asking that they implement a "Straws By Request Only" policy. Think of how many straws you could save from entering into the waste stream! 

2. chat with the hostess:

Before you're seated, it's always best to make requests known. Try and feel out the situation and take a good look around the restaurant. 

Do waters come to the table automatically with a straw in them? Is the hostess holding silverware wrapped in paper napkins you don't need? Is it possible to get a table that doesn't have pre-set silverware with paper napkins? 

How to stay zero waste while dining out from www.goingzerowaste.com

It certainly doesn't hurt to inform the hostess of what you're trying to do. Maybe they can accommodate, maybe they can't. But, if you're not vocal and you're not making your voice heard, no one will know what you want. You have to speak up. 

If you get to the table and there is a paper napkin on it, don't hand it to someone to reuse. Once it's on the table it's dead. It will be thrown away. 

It would be much better just to take the napkin home and compost it. 

3. use social media:

Social media has provided us with so many amazing tools. Before I go to any restaurant, I always look it up. 

I always scour the menu even in my pre-zero waste days. I take forever to decide what I want to eat, but most importantly I want to make sure there's something I can eat. Having an allergy when going out to eat can be a little nerve-wracking. 

How to stay zero waste while dining out from www.goingzerowaste.com

Is dairy going to touch my food? Will I be violently ill? This is why I always try and stick to Asian or vegan restaurants. There's a very low chance of cross contamination. 

Now, I scour social media for not only the menu but the plates, the cups, the silverware etc. I want the details on all the disposables. I often will form my choices around these things. 

I swear, I will never understand why certain dishes come on disposables and certain ones come on reusables. 

4. be prepared: 

I very rarely leave the house without knowing where I'm going. I typically know I'm going out to eat. 

We eat out as a treat. Very rarely are we stranded and starving. When we go out it's a big deal to us. We don't do it very often. I get coffee or tea with a friend on Saturday morning and Justin and I typically go out to eat once a week. 

When we go out it's almost always to brunch. Our fav! (Hence our brunch wedding reception.) 

We always ask for no straw and we bring along a couple of containers to take home leftovers. 

It's so easy to scoop leftovers into your own containers. I LOVE this nesting set*. I bring them with me almost everywhere. They're super compact and can handle a lot of food. 

They can even handle takeout. If you want tips on takeout see this post

I also always carry two cloth napkins with me, if we're going to a restaurant without cloth napkins... which typically we are. However, there are almost always paper napkins already on the table. So, we just take them home and add them to the backyard compost. 

How to stay zero waste while dining out from www.goingzerowaste.com

I would honestly try and avoid a restaurant with disposable plates and cups. If they have a drink fountain, you could easily fill your own water bottle. Or you could just drink the water you brought with you in your own water bottle. 

Plates would be a little more tricky. Some people accept them and some people don't. I find it's a lot easier to present a plate than a container with a lid. 

People can feel intimidated trying to "fit" food into a container, but putting it on a plate seems more normal. 

There's a cafe near where I work. If I've forgotten my lunch.. or dropped it... I'll sometimes go over there with my own plate. I've never had a problem getting my food that way. 


What are some of your tricks for reducing waste while you're dining out? 

This post may contain affiliate linking. It's denoted with an asterisk. You can read more on my disclosure page. Thank you for your support.

6 Zero Waste Baby Shower Gift Ideas

I am officially in the phase of life where all my friends are having babies. 

Six zero waste baby shower gift ideas from www.goingzerowaste.com

I went to a lovely baby shower this past weekend. It's my second one this year. I've gotten in the habit of stashing a small metal plate in my bag (Like this one*), and I always have a water bottle on hand. (like this one*)

I can put snacks on my own plate if necessary, but most of the baby showers I've been to have heavily relied on finger food. It's super easy to munch without a disposable plate. Actually, it's pretty easy to munch without any plate! I haven't had to use a plate at a baby shower yet. 

Attending the shower is the easy part. Buying the gifts, on the other hand, has presented a little bit of a challenge. The couple this weekend is cloth diapering (which I love!), but the other couple was not. 

I also want to state, that there is no judgment here. Of course, I think it's great to use reusables, but I understand it's not feasible in every instance. Having moved into a place without a washer and dryer, I can definitely understand how challenging that would be. 

Both couples had diaper raffles. I personally could not bring myself to purchase disposable diapers. I also didn't want to purchase anything not made ethically or in America. I didn't want to buy anything made from plastic or overly packaged either. 

I'm sure you can see my internal checklist is eliminating a lot of options. If you have a similar internal checklist, then this list is for you. 

1. diaper service:

Diaper service was recommended to me by one of my readers. When going to the baby shower this past weekend, I knew this was the perfect gift! 

The couple wants to cloth diaper, but have been a little nervous about all the laundry. The diaper service will drop off 80 cloth diapers. You'll change the baby and place the dirty diapers in the "dirty" bag they provide. 

Once a week they'll swing by and pick up the dirty diapers and replace them with clean ones. I'm not sure if all diaper services work the exact same, but I'm sure they work similarly. 

I had a super pleasant experience getting a gift card set-up with Tidee Didee Diaper Service. Customer service was spot on. They service a large portion of the bay area, and their prices are very reasonable. 

If you're hesitant to cloth diaper because of all the laundry, you should definitely look into a diaper service. It's also a great gift to bestow! 

2. books:

One of the baby showers I went to requested children's books instead of cards. Each book had a sweet little note written in the front to the baby. 

I thought this was a lovely idea. The library is great to check out new books for your little one, but it's also nice to have a couple always on hand. When I first moved out to California, I nannied for several months. We would stroll down to the local library and check out all sorts of books.  

My only reservation about writing in the books, is some people are deterred from purchasing books with "flaws." I love buying second-hand books that have notes in them, but some people don't. 

What do you think? Would you be deterred from buying a book that had writing in it? 

3. blankets:

A couple of the moms at the baby shower said, "You can never have too many baby blankets." I don't know if that's true. But, what I do know is baby blankets make great "wrapping paper." 

Instead of going with traditional wrapping paper, tie your present up with a cute baby blanket. 

Growing up my mom and I would always make sure our wrapping was a present too. Think about putting your gift inside of a diaper bag, a basket, a diaper stacker or even a sheet set. 

4: baby clothes:

Babies go through clothes really fast. It's really easy to pick up like new baby clothes at consignment shops or second-hand stores. 

It's also really easy to find adorable, organic, and ethical baby clothing online. Some of my favorite shops are listed below. 

5. cloth diapers:

If you know the baby is going to be cloth diapered, buying cloth diapers is a great gift! If you know the baby isn't going to be cloth diapered, I wouldn't recommend making this purchase. 

Cloth diapers use a lot of resources to produce. If you know the couple won't use them, you don't want to drum up those resources unecessarily. 

6. stick to the registry:

I think registries are great. Couples can register for exactly what they want. So, even if nothing fits into your personal criteria, at least you know that you're buying something the couple will use. 

Having an item that is wanted and used is almost more important than having something that fits into the ethical/sustainable criteria but will go unused. 


Of course, there are a ton of other options! This only barely scratches the surface. I am not a mother nor have I been on the receiving end of a baby shower. 

If you have, I would love to hear all of your thoughts! What are some of the best gifts you've given or recieved from a baby shower? 

If you're looking for some zero waste mama's to follow I can highly recommend Meredith from Meredith Tested, Anna from Not Made in China Challenge, and Erin from The Rogue Ginger

This post may contain affiliate linking. It's denoted with an asterisk. You can read more on my disclosure page. Thank you for your support.