One of the many great things about shopping at the farmers market is that many of the items are unpackaged. Apples are displayed in baskets instead of plastic bags, berries are in cardboard pint containers that the farmers keep and reuse, and heads of garlic that aren’t individually shrink wrapped.

If you take the right things with you, you can avoid taking any of the bags or containers that the farmers offer, and possibly make your trip completely waste free. Here are my suggestions.

  1. Reusable shopping bags – Take several large shopping bags to hold your purchases.
  2. Reusable produce bags – Take several produce bags, either washable ones or plastic bags that you’ve saved from another time, so you don’t have to take a bag for items like green beans or mushrooms that you probably want an individual package for.
  3. Sturdy containers – Plastic containers with lids or even glass containers are great for items you don’t want crushed like grape tomatoes or strawberries.
  4. Reusable beverage containers – The first few weeks of many farmers markets can be on the chilly side. You might want to buy a coffee, and a reusable coffee mug will keep you from having to take a Styrofoam cup. Once the weather warms up, you’ll want to bring your own reusable water bottle so you don’t have to pay for a bottle of water.
  5. Cash (small bills if you have them) – Most vendors take only cash, and they appreciate not having to break $100 bills.
  6. Your smart phone – Your smart phone can keep you from wasting time and gas running to the grocery store once you get home, find a recipe for the leeks that were an amazing bargain, and realize that you need several other ingredients to make the recipe. You can look up recipes that you have stored online or in an app, or find a new recipe for a bargain ingredient.
  7. A cooler for the back of your car if you’re not going straight home – If you have some stops to make, make sure you don’t have to throw away food that’s gone bad sitting in your trunk. Meats, cheeses, eggs and more will keep for a short while in a cooler.
Do you have any other suggestions to help make a farmers market trip waste-free?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

7 things to take for a waste-free farmers market trip
As seasonal farmers market begin to open, make sure you take what you need to be waste-free at the farmers market.