Taring glass jar

Some of my favorite items to bring to grocery shopping are glass jars and containers. At first, I felt really intimidated—I had no clue how to shop with jars and was worried that the clerk would think I was crazy or unsanitary or just flat out reject them. It’s amazing the stories we can weave in our minds.

The first time I brought glass containers grocery shopping was at Whole Foods in Berkeley, CA. I pre-weighed each jar (this is called “taring”) and wrote the weight onto a piece of paper tape stuck on the jar. I went to their customer service desk to make sure I had done it right, which unfortunately I hadn’t. I had written the tare in ounces, whereas grocery stores need the weight in pounds. Fortunately, the WF staff were beyond nice—they re-weighed each of my jars and wrote the correct measurements on my paper tape. They even thanked me for bringing my own containers!

With a surge of confidence, I strode into the bulk section to stock up on my favorite: fresh ground almond butter. It’s made with just one ingredient, roasted almonds, with no added salt, oil or sugar. I have an addiction. Before I was zero waste, I used to go through a whole plastic tub of Whole Foods almond butter a week. One plastic tub a week! I cannot tell you how excited I was to fill up my own Le Parfait jar. I felt très élégant.

My fiancé brought a large glass container to the butcher to avoid the paper and plastic they typically wrap meats in. The butcher weighed the chicken (without the container), then placed the chicken into the container and attached a scannable sticker with the price—no taring necessary. Max was worried the macho butcher would scoff at his hippie container, but was pleasantly surprised to hear his kind words of encouragement.  

When we checked out, we got even more kudos from the clerk and people standing in line behind us. We felt pretty awesome.

Now, we use glass containers every time we shop. I love them for nut butters, cheese, olives, maple syrup, honey and bulk soap.

Here are my 5 easy steps for shopping with glass jars and containers:

  1. Make A List. Every time before you grocery shop, make a list so you know how many containers to take and what types you need. I like to use Le Parfait latch-top jars for nut butter, olives and certain cheeses. I use a glass flask for maple syrup, glass bottles for oils and another bottle for vinegar.Tare Grocery List
  2. Tare (rhymes with hair) your jars with a home kitchen scale or at the customer service desk at your grocery store. You can write the weight of the jar on paper tape (compostable) or with a chalk pen directly on the glass (washable). Be sure to write the weight of your jars in pounds. You usually do not need to tare your container for the meat counter—they will use their own scale to weigh the meat before it’s placed in the container and will print the weight and price on a scannable sticker.How to Tare Jar
  3. Fill Jars. You got that one covered, go ‘nuts.’How to Tare Jar
  4. Note the PLU (price look up) code. You’ll find a unique code on each item in the bulk aisle. Either write the code onto your paper tape or with a chalk marker or you can even note the code on your phone and read them aloud to the clerk as they scan your items.How to Tare Jar
  5. Check Out. Read the PLUs to the clerk if you noted them on your phone and bask in the praise you receive from people standing in line. Delight in how pretty your plastic-free cupboards and fridge look. How to Tare Jar
March 24, 2017 by Lily Cameron

Comments

Caitlin

Caitlin said:

Thank you for this post! I am excited to dive into zero waste shopping but I had a – maybe silly – question. Once you’ve tared your containers and then filled them how do you subtract the tare weight from the filled weight so you don’t end up paying for the weight of your jars? I know that most places have a scale that you use yourself to print off a scannable sticker so I’m not sure how to go about subtracting the container weight using those types of scales. Hope this question makes sense and thank you again for this post!

vanessa

vanessa said:

thank u thank u thank u!!!! its so intimidating trying this out for the first time, now I know what to expect haha

Lily

Lily said:

Hi Caitlin, Good question, not silly at all! After to you tare your jar (aka weigh it pre-filled) and mark the tare on the jar (on a piece of tape let’s say), then you fill the jar and note the PLU (price look up) for the item. You take the filled jar to the cashier and THEY weigh the filled jar and subtract the tare from the filled weight to charge you. Hope that makes sense :)

kathleen dunham

kathleen dunham said:

i am very excited about this blog. we do not have many bulk shopping places near us. i love that you used glass at the butcher—-that one always had me stumped.

Angela

Angela said:

Thank you so much for sharing this process! I’m going to try it on my next shopping trip. I’m nervous about doing it, but knowing what to expect helps a whole lot.

Jennifer | Honey Rule

Jennifer | Honey Rule said:

AH! Thank you for this! I’m super new to zero waste and I didn’t understand how it would work to BYO-containers. I asked a co-op recently and they just kept saying “tare” “tare” and I’m like, “I have no idea what the F you are saying… but thanks?”

NOW I know, and I can do it! Totally sharing this article.

Dana

Dana said:

I recently moved to San Rafael (like you!) and am looking for stores to get bulk things like olive oil and dish soap. I live near the Whole Foods and they have a dry foods bulk aisle and a few toiletries but the selection isn’t huge. Where do you go for bulk items in Marin?

Joni Loverin

Joni Loverin said:

I just ran across this. I am so excited this article is our here helping people. I have been practicing zero watse for 35 yrs and started in natural foods co-ops, I am happy Whole Foods does this.

Joni Loverin

Joni Loverin said:

I just ran across this. I am so excited this article is our here helping people. I have been practicing zero watse for 35 yrs and started in natural foods co-ops, I am happy Whole Foods does this.

Breana Neuschwander

Breana Neuschwander said:

This may be a silly question. But do you have to weigh your glass jars every time you go to the store? Or could you just weigh them only once and always have the tare labeled on the jar for the future?

Susan Hannan

Susan Hannan said:

Thank you so much for sharing this process
liquor bottles wholesale
http://glassbottlewholesale.com/products/750ml-glass-bottles/

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron said:

Hi Breana, Not a silly question! You do not have to weigh your jars each time so long as you have the tare labeled on the jar.

Laura McFee

Laura McFee said:

Thank you for your blog! I have been really excited about bringing my own jars to purchase bulk items, but when I went to my local Whole Foods in northeast Ohio, they told me they can no longer allow customers to bring in their own containers due to sanitary issues. Do you have any suggestions other than finding a different store altogether? Thanks so much!

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron said:

Hi Laura, Such a bummer. I’ve heard that some people will reuse the plastic tubs that Whole Foods provides. Just wash them out after you’re done and bring them to the store with you. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.

Heather

Heather said:

Where do you get your glass jars for syrup and oils?

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Comments

Caitlin

Caitlin said:

Thank you for this post! I am excited to dive into zero waste shopping but I had a – maybe silly – question. Once you’ve tared your containers and then filled them how do you subtract the tare weight from the filled weight so you don’t end up paying for the weight of your jars? I know that most places have a scale that you use yourself to print off a scannable sticker so I’m not sure how to go about subtracting the container weight using those types of scales. Hope this question makes sense and thank you again for this post!

vanessa

vanessa said:

thank u thank u thank u!!!! its so intimidating trying this out for the first time, now I know what to expect haha

Lily

Lily said:

Hi Caitlin, Good question, not silly at all! After to you tare your jar (aka weigh it pre-filled) and mark the tare on the jar (on a piece of tape let’s say), then you fill the jar and note the PLU (price look up) for the item. You take the filled jar to the cashier and THEY weigh the filled jar and subtract the tare from the filled weight to charge you. Hope that makes sense :)

kathleen dunham

kathleen dunham said:

i am very excited about this blog. we do not have many bulk shopping places near us. i love that you used glass at the butcher—-that one always had me stumped.

Angela

Angela said:

Thank you so much for sharing this process! I’m going to try it on my next shopping trip. I’m nervous about doing it, but knowing what to expect helps a whole lot.

Jennifer | Honey Rule

Jennifer | Honey Rule said:

AH! Thank you for this! I’m super new to zero waste and I didn’t understand how it would work to BYO-containers. I asked a co-op recently and they just kept saying “tare” “tare” and I’m like, “I have no idea what the F you are saying… but thanks?”

NOW I know, and I can do it! Totally sharing this article.

Dana

Dana said:

I recently moved to San Rafael (like you!) and am looking for stores to get bulk things like olive oil and dish soap. I live near the Whole Foods and they have a dry foods bulk aisle and a few toiletries but the selection isn’t huge. Where do you go for bulk items in Marin?

Joni Loverin

Joni Loverin said:

I just ran across this. I am so excited this article is our here helping people. I have been practicing zero watse for 35 yrs and started in natural foods co-ops, I am happy Whole Foods does this.

Joni Loverin

Joni Loverin said:

I just ran across this. I am so excited this article is our here helping people. I have been practicing zero watse for 35 yrs and started in natural foods co-ops, I am happy Whole Foods does this.

Breana Neuschwander

Breana Neuschwander said:

This may be a silly question. But do you have to weigh your glass jars every time you go to the store? Or could you just weigh them only once and always have the tare labeled on the jar for the future?

Susan Hannan

Susan Hannan said:

Thank you so much for sharing this process
liquor bottles wholesale
http://glassbottlewholesale.com/products/750ml-glass-bottles/

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron said:

Hi Breana, Not a silly question! You do not have to weigh your jars each time so long as you have the tare labeled on the jar.

Laura McFee

Laura McFee said:

Thank you for your blog! I have been really excited about bringing my own jars to purchase bulk items, but when I went to my local Whole Foods in northeast Ohio, they told me they can no longer allow customers to bring in their own containers due to sanitary issues. Do you have any suggestions other than finding a different store altogether? Thanks so much!

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron said:

Hi Laura, Such a bummer. I’ve heard that some people will reuse the plastic tubs that Whole Foods provides. Just wash them out after you’re done and bring them to the store with you. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.

Heather

Heather said:

Where do you get your glass jars for syrup and oils?

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