Zero Waste Attempt #2: Fresh Thyme

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-6-00-50-pmWelcome to round two of zero waste shopping! This week I hit up the double ad day at Fresh Thyme Market. I’m not gonna lie. The whole time I was worried it was going to be expensive and my husband would be mad at me for spending so much. Spoiler alert! It was actually less expensive than last week’s trip to Walmart! However, he was disappointed in the amount of bread I got for the price I paid. I accidentally grabbed the loaf that wasn’t on sale, but it’s super tasty so yay for silver linings.

So let’s take a look at the rubric and see how Fresh Thyme scored on this trip. Once again I didn’t need meat so I’ll have to revisit that another time. We have quite a bit of meat in our chest freezer and I want to use it all up before I buy more. Also, true to form I forgot another item. This time it was juice.

  • Bulk Bins with a variety of options. (1 point)
    + 1 point. Grains, beans, legumes, flour, sugar, dried fruit, nuts, trail mixes, chocolates, candies, coffee, and more! It was beautiful. Why don’t more grocery stores have bulk bins? Seriously.
  • Refill stations for oils, vinegars, honey, nut butters, etc. (1 point)
    + 1 point. Variety of oils, vinegars, local honey, maple syrup, cashew butter, peanut butter, and almond butter. I made my own peanut butter in a mason jar and I was super duper excited about it.
  • Bulk dried herbs and spices. (1 point)
    + 1 point.
  • Most produce is available without packaging. (1 point)
    + 1/2 point: A few staple items didn’t have package free options. I caved and got the kids grapes that came in plastic. I won’t be perfect every time, especially when it comes to food my kids love to eat.
  • Bread without packaging. (1 point)
    + 1 points. The lady I talked to behind the counter loved that I had my own bread bag and sliced my package free loaf for me. I even got away without a label.
  • Meat without packaging. 1 point
    0* points. I didn’t need meat on this trip, but there are counters with a variety of options. Poultry, seafood, beef, pork, and lunchmeat can all be found here.
  • Cheese without packaging. 1 point
    + 0* points. There are cheese options, but I ran out of time and just grabbed a block of cheddar that was on sale. Next time I’ll have to see if I can use my own container.
  • Hygiene products without packaging. (1 point)
    +1/2 points. I saw soap, but there aren’t enough options to get a full point.
  • 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 she said they encourage customers to use their own bags and containers. The lady who sliced my bread thought it was cool that I brought my own bread bag.

Bonus Point: Toddler friendly. +1 They have carts that have a two seat attachment. They’re nice, but they’re massive and not always easy to navigate around the store. I’ll give them the bonus point though.

Fresh Thyme’s final score: 7* points
*2 more points might be added when I go back and need to purchase meat and cheese.

Other considerations for the eco-conscious crowd:

  •  Ability to safely walk or bike to location: Nope.
  • Locally sourced products: Some. It’s winter in Indiana so of course produce needs to be shipped in. The honey is still local though.
  • Is the company dedicated to eco-friendly practices?: They could do better, but the package free options put it well above Walmart.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what I bought, the price, and its packaging status.

fullsizerender-1Completely naked produce and misc. (no plastic, rubber bands, twist ties, or stickers)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes ($1.00/2 lb.) 1.79 lbs. = $0.90
  • Yellow Onions ($0.88/lb.) 1.43 lbs. = $1.26
  • Sweet Potatoes ($0.87/lb.) 2.23 lbs. $1.94
  • Peanut Butter ($2.49/lb.) 0.77 lb. = $1.92
  • Chocolate covered pretzels ($3.74 lb.) 1.29lbs. = $4.82
  • Coffee ($6.99/lb.) 1.59 lbs. = $11.11 That better be some damn good coffee. We’re poor so we usually buy the cheap stuff.
  • Sourdough Batard (Meant to grab the Italian that was on sale. Oops.) $2.99

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

  • Fuji Apples ($1.47/lb.) 1.77 lbs. = $2.60
  • Hass Avocadoes 2 for $1.00
  • Minneola ($1.49/lb) 1.87 lbs. = $2.79
  • Broccoli ($1.49/lb) 1.16 lbs. = $1.73
  • Red Bell Pepper ($0.74 each) 2 = $1.48
  • Red Leaf Lettuce $1.49
  • Red Grapefruit (2 for $1.00) 4 = $2.00
  • Red Grapes ($0.97/lb.) 1.63 lbs = $1.58
  • Radishes 2 bunches for $1.00
  • Bananas ($0.59/lb.) 2.85 lbs = $1.68

Returnable Packaging

  • Milk! $3.99 + $1.50 bottle deposit. I’m so excited that I can bring the glass bottle back to be reused! I thought I’d be stuck with buying milk in plastic gallons. The brand is Oberweis if you want to pick some up too. Shout out to Mark for telling me about it. You da real MVP.

No package free or refillable options

  • *Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I probably could have gotten this package free, but the kids had reached their limit at this point and I was desperate to get out of there.
    ($2.99/lb.) 0.97 lb. = $2.92
  • Eggs ($0.88 per dozen) 2 dozen = $1.76
  • *Sugar. I could have gotten this in bulk, but I ran out of bags. So instead of using their plastic bags in the bulk section, I opted for the sugar that comes in the recyclable paper packaging. $3.49
  • *Baking Soda. I might be able to get this in bulk, but once again I was out of my bags so I got the recyclable cardboard box of baking soda. $0.69

Grand Total: $56.64

By shopping almost exclusively their sale items, I saved $19.63. That’s a pretty dang good number. I could have saved more if I had paid closer attention. I accidentally grabbed a few of the wrong things, but with two toddlers to wrangle it’s hard to be a perfect shopper.

img_3659Side note: If you plan to use containers with more weight to them than cotton bags, weigh them before you fill them so you don’t get charged for product you’re not getting. I have a food scale at home so I wrote their TARE on the lids before I left home. Weigh each one even if they’re supposed to be the same size. My mason jars are all slightly different weights.

My Final Takeaway: Fresh Thyme blew Walmart out of the water. I’m shocked! *sarcasm*

The bulk bins are fantastic and the double ad day makes shopping here affordable. Next time, I need to pay attention more because I trusted the price signs to be above the produce they were advertising, and I definitely ended up with some of the wrong stuff. The kids were a little grumpy on this trip so I was even more distracted than usual. I really like this store, but the driving distance kind of sucks for me. It’s definitely one of the more zero waste friendly stores in Fort Wayne. Every Thursday is double ad day and you can find those deals on their website.

Although I wasn’t perfect this trip, I did better and that’s what matters. My kids were starting to throw fits and I was feeling an anxiety attack coming on. So I took a couple shortcuts to get home asap. Do what is possible for you and feel good about it.


2 thoughts on “Zero Waste Attempt #2: Fresh Thyme

  1. Pat Law says:

    Wow! That is (you are) amazing!! Sounds like a lot of extra work, but very worth it for your family and the environment. I’ve heard a little about people living waste-free, but didn’t realize how much thought needed to go into it until reading your blog. While I was reading it I wondered how you managed to concentrate with kids along that would become impatient before too long. Our stores here have baskets of fruit with signs telling customers to take a free piece of fruit for each child to eat while shopping. Keeps them busy and promotes healthy eating habits. Not sure if they do that back home in your area or not. Keep up the good work!! Very interesting!!!


  2. pocketsizefun says:

    Thank you! It is more work in some regards, but it is worth it. I think everyone could do it, especially if businesses felt pressure to make their stores more geared towards zero waste. I’m hoping my attention to detail and tips make it easier for others to take up zero waste shopping habits. Fresh Thyme had a kids’ snack table, but I missed it on the way in. I love businesses that think to do things like that. Thank you for reading, Pat!


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