Zero-Waste Shopping Kit

Wicker cart, similar here

Remember in high school when everyone had to have Ugg boots and Coach bags- Chevignon backpacks and Bensimon shoes, for the French- and if you didn't have those things, no one would talk to you and you couldn't sit at the cool table during lunch? Wicker shopping trolleys are the Coach bag of the 7ème (except only Americans wear Coach here because Parisians think they're fake Chanel). Any dame âgée worth her weight in fromage blanc uses one, for rolling milk and the day's baguette down Rue de Sèvres, up Rue de Babylone, past Le Bon Marché to Nespresso, Dior heels click-clacking on the pavement. Week after week, I sweatily hauled reusable totes everywhere, looking like a hunchback hobo with a bindle, while those women flitted about, all perfect hair and perfectly creased skin and fresh lipstick and husky voices, chariots à courses en osier zipping behind them. Organic hemp rarely plays when it comes to Parisian social mores, and I wanted those chic old ladies to like me.

There's something about those wicker chariots, some mysterious sheen that comes from marrying bygone beauty with utility, the promise of durability, and cultural traction. An exhaustive search led to Droguerie Thanner on Rue de Buci, which stocks one wicker shopping cart with ugly white plastic wheels. The manufacturers' tag read 120 EUR; they crossed it out to write 190 EUR, and when I asked the shopgirl the price, she told me deux cent. I eventually started stopping every person I saw on the street, asking where they got their enviable trolleys. "Champs-Élysées, thirty years ago, but the shop is gone." "It was my grandmother's." "My husband bought this for me, I don't know where." "Can't you ask him?" I cried. "Il est mort," she replied, waving her hand.

My friend Françoise- the epitome of the elegant, cultured Frenchwoman- came to the rescue. She bought her handsome chariot 25 years ago at Cherche-Midi Couleurs, a venerable vannerie slash droguerie just a block from La Grande Epicerie. A quick phone call confirmed they had the same model in stock. I walked over hurriedly, forgetting this was France, the country where verifier disponibilité sur magasin says yes, Sephora Beaugrenelle does have plastic-free recourbe-cils in stock, when actually they have none; the country in which the man on the line from Le retour à la terre says yes, we have Mooncups in every size but when you walk all the way there, the same guy says, oh, I was sure we had them so when I put you on hold for half an hour to check, I was actually outside having a smoke and no, we won't be getting any for months; the country where all the schedules say the Gare du Nord-Creil train arrives at 8:45 so you rush over twenty minutes early to make it but there are no trains until two hours later, and it isn't a bank holiday and there's no good reason for the train not to arrive, yet it never does, and everybody expects you to accept it anyway. Suffice to say, Cherche-Midi Couleurs didn't have my shopping trolley, either.

I almost gave in and bought a Tyvek Perigot, thinking my search for a plastic-free, biodegradable shopping cart was fruitless. Suddenly, all my Leboncoin wishes materialized in the form of a dozen Weck jars and a vintage wicker trolley in perfect condition, avec lifetime guarantee. I kept the reusable totes, but for hauling heavy groceries, bulk goods, and glass containers, this thing is a game-changer (the cats love it, too). I can't believe I thought I could do without this wheeled city-dwelling miracle! It makes me feel like Jenni Kayne, pretending to be domestic for a Martha Stewart editorial.

I wash and re-used Aesop bags (purchased last year) for shopping; the largest bag is for bread and the three smaller ones for produce. The little wooden basket is from some cherries my grandmother bought- I put a clean washcloth at the bottom and use it for berries, eggs, or to carry old limonade bottles refilled at En Vrac. In the trolley, glass jars stay put, but I saved a few cardboard rectangles and folded them in thirds to divide and protect breakable items when shopping (carrying cloth towels helps too). The organic "filet" bags No Impact Man lauds are actually pretty perfect for produce- you can crochet them yourself or buy them anywhere in France for less than 2 EUR.

Below are tare weights for reference. Weck jars are sturdy- I've dropped them a bunch of times with no cracks or chips to speak of. Unlike parfait jars, they're also stackable and oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe. I don't own a microwave or dishwasher, but I appreciate having the option. I use a 1L jar for Famille Mary honey (not pictured); they weigh it each time, so I don't have the tare.

Mold Jars

80ml: 140g
160ml: 170g
165ml :230g
1/4 L: 420g
1/2 L: 490g
3/4 L: 590g


340ml: 208g
600ml: 340g
1062ml: 700g

Limonade bottles 

0.75L: 385g

Tip: Save an egg carton for safe transport of fresh, unwashed eggs. This post contains Shopstyle affiliate links. If you click on them, I make a commission. Thanks for your continuing support!

Paris to Go

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