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Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge: Target

Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge: Target

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Last Updated on May 7, 2021

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.

Zero Waste at Target, the zero waste grocery store challenge. #zerowastegrocerystorechallenge #zerowaste #target #lowwaste #groceryshopping #ecofriendly #gogreen #sustainable #gorceries #groceryshopping

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! 

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  1. Based on the produce selection, I’m guessing this was a regular Target? All of the Targets around here are Super Targets now and have a much bigger selection of produce (a lot of which is unpackaged). They also have a deli counter for basic sandwich meats/cheeses, etc. So basically the "Super" = bigger/better grocery options. 😉 I didn’t realize you could put anything other than grocery bags in the recycling bins at the front of the store. That’s good to know!

    1. Hmmm. Maybe? I thought it was super if it had food. Maybe it’s just a regular target. I didn’t know regular targets had food. We both learned new things! Lol! Yes, film plastic #4s are recyclable at your grocery store with the other plastic bags.

    1. Urgh. I meant "paper and metal," not "plastic and metal," but I can’t figure out how to edit my comment. This is why I never say anything online!

      1. The good news is it’s anonymous! No one knows which Jennifer in the world this is. But, if it’d make you feel better you can retype your comment and I’ll delete these. 🙂

  2. I’ve purchased the safety razor blades in that brand before. Mine came in a plastic holder and each individual blade was wrapped in paper.

  3. Totally agree about the bag that clearly indicated that it was not recyclable. The bags that items come in are often what I question: "Is this recyclable??"

  4. Here in my part of Ohio, we are blessed with Meijer and Kroger, who both have a great selection of organics. AND, I am very impressed with the Harris Teeter stores after just returning from the Outer Banks of NC last week. I was amazed that they have a huge selection of organics, gluten-free and even a few gluten-free organics there!

  5. This is awesome. It’s what I’ve been doing since I discovered zero waste. There are no bulk stores in my country, so I try to look for whatever has less plastic and what type of plastic they come in. I support your message, the idea is that more people engage into this, I think it’s crazy that if you’re not doing it perfectly it’s better to not do it. I’ve convinced people on taking at least small actions like use cloth napkins. Small actions from everyone is a lot more than 5 perfect people.

  6. I agree, Target isn’t bad. Great assortment of Amy’s frozen foods often on sale, tasty loose fruit, unsweetened soymilk, organic peanut butter, organic pasta sauce in glass jars, etc. Also they give 5c credit if u bring own bag, and they have recycling bins for pl
    astic bags.

  7. you should check out the zerowastehome blog by Bea Johnson, she is a pioneer (if not the founder of this movement) which can explain the wide and depth of what the zero waste movement and lifestyle is about. You did an amazing job buying things you can use to make food from scratch , but I think perhaps you might have missed the main permiss of "zero waste" and five "R" of zero waste (refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and root – compost) if that is what you were going for. By no means, this is not to attack you or being perfect, as you said, but a key note here is unpacked, which everyone can do as most groceries (meaning the basics – legumes, veggies, fruit, nut and seeds) that are unprocessed can be found unpacked. Anyways, great post! It good to see others bringing more awareness this topic.

    1. Ally, I’m very aware of what zero waste means. You don’t get 2 years worth of trash in a mason jar, by not knowing. The ENTIRE point of this challenge has been completely missed by you. NOT everyone has access to unpackaged food, hence the point of this challenge. I’m from Arkansas, where the only thing in town is a Walmart. Please read some more posts on this challenge and about my blog before you start preaching to me about how I’ve "Missed the point."

  8. Thank you for this real-life approach to limiting waste. I, too, live in NorCal and am often surprised by the lack of zero waste options when I am in other places. Anyone can do a good job with almost no trash here, but just try that in Utah!