The general guideline for minimizing your trash for a more eco-friendly trash heap is to buy products with the least possible packaging or with recyclable packaging. Shopping at grocery stores that sell loose items and let you use your own refillable containers is a good start.
Follow these tips when shopping for food and notice an immediate difference in the amount of trash you throw away:
Buy fresh food that doesn't come prepackaged. Place fruits and vegetables directly into your cart. Skip the plastic bags hanging in the produce department, or reuse bags from a previous shopping trip.
Avoid individually packaged items. For example, buy a larger container of juice instead of the small, individual containers and send the kids to school with juice in a thermos. The same goes for prepackaged kids' lunches in plastic trays; putting lunch foods into reusable containers that can go into lunchboxes reduces waste considerably.
Choose items in glass or other recyclable containers. Try to avoid plastics in general, which are made with petroleum. Avoid completely any plastic that can't be recycled through your local system.
Avoid aerosol cans altogether. You can't reuse or recycle aerosol containers. For cleaning products, purchase products in pump-action bottles, for example, or make your own green cleaning supplies.
Take your own canvas bags, shopping basket, or reused plastic bags with you when you shop. If you have a choice between paper and plastic bags, choose paper, which is more easily recycled than plastic, though it consumes almost as many resources to manufacture. Of course, first reuse it if you can, perhaps to wrap parcels for mailing.
Want to help convince manufacturers to use less packaging? Send packaging back to manufacturers with a letter telling them that you won't be buying their products again because of the excess packaging. Stores and manufacturers will get the message if sales drop for heavily packaged items or products in nonrecyclable packaging.