Hey everyone! I have been gone for awhile but I talked to a food blogger today and felt inspired to share my shopping trip with you here. I usually do my family’s grocery shopping on the weekend, and this time I was determined to really do it zero waste. One of the best practices in zero waste grocery shopping is to go prepared- know what you’re going to make for the week, know what ingredients you need to prepare those recipes, and of course bring your reusable bags!

One thing that frustrates me to no end is that most of the zero waste bloggers I follow live in cities like SF or Vancouver- even Austin has a zero waste store. But San Antonio doesn’t have a dedicated zero waste store. Whole foods is actually about 45 minutes away as well, which makes it not an option for weekly shopping. With a google search I found out that HEB off 1604 and Bandera has a bulk section so I decided to give it a shot!

I documented my entire trip in photos so that you can both see and read about my experience. Would love to answer any questions you may have ๐Ÿ™‚

My trip wasn’t completely zero waste but it was about as close as you can get at HEB anyway.

Come along and experience HEB from a zero waste lense with me!

HEB Plus on 1604 and Bandera Rd. in San Antonio, TX
First thought: This place is huge! Nice landscaping ๐Ÿ™‚


Don’t forget your bags!
I have them all separated neatly in one bag so they’re easily accessible
got my produce! Putting them at the end so they don’t get crushed at the bottom of the cart! Some things didn’t have stickers like the tomatoes and potatoes. They also had heads of broccoli without stickers as well. My bags are hodge-podge and all different sizes and materials, some I sewed myself with scrap fabric.
plenty of good bulk options, be sure to look on both sides because their bulk section spans two separate aisles which I didn’t realize at first
plenty of bulk coffees as well
IMG_0230 2.jpg
Kambucha on tap- it was out of order when I was there
Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in paper packaging
Washing Soda and Borax for making your own laundry detergent (they also had citric acid in the bulk section with the spices)
unpacking all the bags within the bags ๐Ÿ™‚ This time I actually got complimented on the bags by another shopper and the checker thought my avoiding plastic was really cool as well!
unpacked all the little bags. Some things are in paper/cardboard packaging or glass like the vinegar as HEB doesn’t have wet bulk items ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
this is how I store my ingredients – Mason jars or empty jam, sauce or spice jars
Sometimes you have to get creative with storing odd sized items, the lid it’s sitting on will seal them up so they won’t get stale.
Unfortunately you have to print out the sticker for you bulk items at HEB, but this is still way less plastic than buying everything in packaging completely. Also shown are the stickers for the produce, the beets and the kale ties and rubber bands, as well as the plastic lid from my Kambucha I bought in a bottle. I plan on using the stickers instead of tape.

There you have it- $128 to feed, shower & launder a family of 3 for a week (almost) zero waste at HEB! If you don’t have a zero waste store close to you this may be a good option for your family. Hopefully one day HEB will not require you to print out stickers for the Tare on the bulk items. If anyone knows a way they have gotten around this let me know! I will make a separate post with my ingredients and recipes so you can replicate this weekly shopping trip and grocery run soon ๐Ÿ™‚


Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!


Published by Melissa Phillips

Hi I'm Melissa! I'm a Mom, wife, UX Designer, Minimalist, Zero Waste- Wannabe. I blog about domestic environmentalism, tech and whatever I feel like!

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  1. Awesome post! So here’s my question, did you use the baggies at the bulk section for your nuts and things, or did you use your jars? I’m trying to minimize my waste as much as I can, but haven’t had the confidence to take my jars! So I’m wondering if you did, how that worked out?


  2. Hey Melissa! I’ve been trying to zero waste shop at HEB for a while now, but just ran across your article. I have one question and one tip. Tip: you do not have to print out the weight sticker when getting items from the bulk bins. If you note the number of the item ( I do it in my phone) and remember what is what, you can just tell the number at check out and they will weight it like they would produce items. And here’s my question: you mention at the end of the article that printing out the sticker removes the tare of the item, but then your response to the other question says tare can not be removed. I also have not been able to figure out how to tare my jars. Is there a secret? Or do we just need to start a letter writing campaign to HEB?


    1. Thank you so much for the tip! I had no idea! I tried it this past weekend and it worked! Iโ€™m not sure about the jar Tare question as I use think mesh or cotton bags so they donโ€™t have to be measured. Iโ€™m down to start a letter writing campaign with you! Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. referring to your last reply, the cashier had no problem taking the pin number and weighing your item in the mesh bag?


  4. this is great! i never thought about making little bags for the bulk section at HEB. at that to my never ending to do list. I guess I should make one of each color, that way I can keep them straight with the item numbers/ codes. i’ve thought about bringing back my zip locks and plastic peanut butter containers… but just have not had the guts yet to.


    1. It’s pretty easy to tell what’s what by squeezing the outside but you can also use a crayon to right the number on the bag. Zip locks/plastic I don’t think are recommended for reuse because the plastic can leach into food over time but I’ve heard of people using silicone bags. Silicone is basically plastic as well but much higher grade and durable than the kind of plastic intended for one time use. Good luck!


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