Zero Waste at the Farmers' Market

Farmers market produce

Farmers' market season! It's back, people! (At least in my neighborhood. Sorry for gloating if it's not time yet for yours).

I don't need to tell you why I love farmers' markets, so I'll tell you a little bit about how they're a zero waste dream instead:

When I purchase something, I'll ask the farmer / stand worker right then and there if they'll take the packaging back to reuse. This weekend, I peeled a rubber band off my bundle of asparagus and handed it back to be used again; my friend gave back the twist tie around her bundle of romaine. You can't do that at the grocery store, and I love how efficient it is to immediately put something back into the hands of someone who can use it, rather than throwing it away (twist tie) or stocking the already-too-full rubber band box at my office.

I've never been refused when I ask if someone can reuse the packaging or if I can use my own bag - usually they're surprised and thrilled, which isn't often the reaction I get at the grocery store. Sometimes, if I need the packaging to get something home (unexpected 5 pint box of blueberries purchase, hello), I'll ask to make sure I can bring it back the following week instead.

Farmers' market season also means that I can purchase things that I usually stay away from the rest of the year - most excitingly, berries, which come in plastic clamshell containers at the grocery store but at the farmers' market can be scooped right from cardboard boxes into my own tote or jar. When I can, I like to pick up a few extras to stash in the freezer to help supply me with berries and a few other things year-round.

Farmers' market season, so glad you're here. Do you have any tips for staying zero waste at the farmers' market? I'd love to hear! Cheers to local, seasonal, delicious, bountiful food, and the summer that's coming soon.