Zero Waste Attempt #1: Walmart

So my first shopping trip was to a store that everyone has access to: Walmart. I know, I know. Walmart is evil and yada yada yada. I agree, but I want to cover all the bases and make this as accessible to as many people as possible. This trip did contain some unusual items. Oreos for example are (sadly) not a common item in our house. I purchased those and the heavy whipping cream to make ice cream for my son’s birthday party. Crap. I just realized I forgot to buy sugar for the ice cream.

Here’s how Walmart scored on this trip:

  • Bulk Bins with a variety of options. (1 point)
    + 0 points
  • Refill stations for oils, vinegars, honey, nut butters, etc. (1 point)
    + 0 points
  • Bulk dried herbs and spices. (1 point)
    + 0 points
  • Most produce is available without packaging. (1 point)
    + 1/2 point: A few staple items didn’t have package free options.
  • Bread without packaging. (1 point)
    + 0 points
  • Meat without packaging. 1 point
    0 points. I didn’t need meat on this trip, but the options behind a counter are limited here. Worth asking an employee if they would allow me to put products in my own container.
  • Cheese without packaging. 1 point
    + 0 points. There are cheese options in the deli. Need to ask if I can use my own container.
  • Hygiene products without packaging. (1 point)
    +0 points
  • Necessary packaging that can be brought back and reused (i.e. egg cartons). (1 point)
    +0 points
  • Positive experience using my own bags and/or containers. (1 point)
    +1 point: Cashier was very friendly and said my bags were cute. The customer in front of me asked me where I got my produce bags. Hopefully she gets some too!

Bonus Point: Toddler friendly. Except for the candy filled checkout lane, Walmart is a safe and easy place to shop with little ones. +1 point

Walmart’s final score: 2.5/10*

*This score might be adjusted in the future. I want to talk to the people at the deli and seafood counters and see if they’d let me use my own containers for meat, cheese, and seafood.

Other considerations for the eco-conscious crowd:

  •  Ability to safely walk or bike to location: Walmart is not safe or close enough to walk or bike to.
  • Locally sourced products: I have seen signs claiming produce is locally sourced, but I’ve only seen them in the summer.
  • Is the company dedicated to eco-friendly practices?: LOL. No.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what I bought, the price, and its packaging status. Some items on here are not staples in our house. The Oreos and heavy whipping cream for example are for making ice cream for my son’s birthday party.

Completely naked produce (no plastic, rubber bands, twist ties, or stickers)

  • Potatoes ($2.23/lb.) 0.78 lbs. = $1.74
  • Carrots ($0.96/lb.) 0.67 lbs. = $0.64
  • Broccoli ($0.57/lb.) 1.64 lbs. = $0.93
  • Cucumber $0.58

Free of plastic, but with stickers, rubber bands, or twist ties.

  • Apples ($1.45/lb.) 1.27 lbs. = $1.84
  • Asparagus ($0.89/lb.) 2.47 lbs. = $2.20
  • Eggplant ($1.24/lb.) 1.78 lbs. = $2.21
  • Avocados ($1.48 each) 3 = $4.44
  • Lemons ($0.50 each) 3 = $1.50
  • Grapefruit ($0.78 each) 6 = $4.68
  • Radishes 1 bunch = $0.98
  • Bananas (3.79/lb.) 0.52 lbs. = $1.97

No package free or refillable options

  • Cauliflower $2.97
  • Mushrooms $3.24
  • Fresh thyme $1.98
  • Lettuce $2.98 (They had bulk spinach bunches but they were in bad shape)
  • Juice $2.48
  • Milk $2.38
  • String Cheese $5.98
  • Crackers $2.56
  • Half and Half $3.98
  • Sour Cream $0.96
  • Heavy Whipping Cream $2.34
  • Oreos $2.98
  • Eggs (dozen cage free brown eggs) $2.27

Grand Total: $60.95

My final takeaway: There are items on this list that I know I can either make myself or find package free elsewhere. My kids love crackers. They would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I let them. So I need to figure out what I’m going to do there. Also, string cheese is something they love and I love it too because it’s pretty healthy as far as easy snacks go. If I can buy mozzarella balls in my own container, I’ll be very happy. I would love to make my own cheese, but there’s no way I have time for such shenanigans.

The greatest success on this trip was my use of only my own bags. Not a single produce or Walmart bag came home with me and that felt pretty good. It was also easier to carry everything inside in one trip! Major bonus since I hate being outside this time of year.


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