Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge: Hannaford Supermarkets

I’m finally back with another installment of the experiment known as the Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge. 

Let’s recap just a bit.

-East: I’m profiling Trader Joes’, Costco, Hannaford Supermarket, and Wal-Mart.
-South: Manuela from Girl Gone Green will be going to Aldi, Publix, Thrive, and Wal-Mart.
-Midwest: Celia from Litterlesss will be taking you to Kroger, Jewel-Osco, and Wal-Mart.
-West: Andrea of Be Zero will be featuring Lucky’s, Safeway, and Wal-Mart.
-Pacific: Kathryn of Going Zero Waste will be visiting Target, Grocery Outlet, and Wal-Mart.

+ Follow the #ZWGroceryStoreChallenge on social media and join in! Share your triumphs, challenges, questions.

I primarily shop at local natural food stores as well as Hannaford. Hannaford has surfaced to the top for me as a good source of a lot of products we use frequently and their prices are usually great. They clearly label what foods are local which I also appreciate. Every store that I’ve been to has a bulk section with nuts and other loose/unpackaged products. With the exception of one store in my area I’ve been so impressed and happy with the staff. They are friendly, courteous and generally either A) curious/excited about our plastic-free lifestyle or B) don’t bat an eyelash at our “weird” requests. For example, I typically buy dates in bulk, arrowroot powder and cashew butter at Hannaford. Their prices and availability of these items is the best in my area.

I might post a more typical-for-me Hannaford haul later with photos of bulk items in my cloth bags, cheese and deli items in my own glass containers, etc. but for the purpose of this post, I decided to try out their “Hannaford To Go” service that just launched at one of their locations near me.

Why “To Go”? There are lots of reasons why someone would choose to go this route. As a parent with two young children I an attest to the difficulty of calmly walking the aisles to get everything you need. When I was pregnant and on bedrest, this service would have been incredibly helpful. I appreciate how it can accommodate those who might have physical limitations. An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she appreciates the service because it helps her cope with her OCD and anxiety.

Your first step is to login to the Hannford To Go site and select your local store. From there you can navigate to different sections just as you would if you were walking around the store. You can select for organic only and you can use the search function to find specific brands or items.

You then select a time to pick up, typically the next day or perhaps the evening on the same day. The turnaround isn’t instant like other grocery ordering services you might be familiar with if you’ve lived in bigger cities but it is still a good option if you are strapped for time or – like me – have two kids two and under that can make shopping trips challenging. There is a fee for using the service but it has so far been waived for me every time because they are still in the testing phase in my area.


Once you arrive at the Hannaford store at the designated time, you park in a spot marked for “To Go” customers and call the number on the sign. A staff member will come out, review any changes that might be needed (see below for more on this), take your credit card to pay and then load up your groceries!

Occasionally you will add an item to your cart and it won’t actually be available in the store, so they will make an appropriate switch to a similar product. You have the opportunity to refuse the replacement item if you want. This happened to me with eggs and while the brand I was given wasn’t my favorite, I accepted the switch because I needed eggs and because the brand that I was given was known to be reputable to me. I’ve heard mixed experiences from friends – some have had a lot of changes to their order once they arrived but I haven’t found it to be too common in my orders.

Just like during my low-waste trip to Trader Joe’s , I focused on buying products without packaging like fruits and vegetables, or items in recyclable or compostable containers such as cardboard boxes. When we did have to buy something in packaging, I found the largest item I could that fit my budget and other parameters I look for in my food (organic, etc.)

During a normal week, we purchase produce and meat from the farmer’s market or local co-op. We also rely on our CSA share for produce. However, I looked at these shopping trips as an experiment in what I would do if I didn’t have access or time (or budget) to these extras.

In that vein, I did purchase a whole chicken from Hannaford’s natural range. I purchased only one thing that wasn’t on my list – a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap that was on sale (yay!) that I realized I needed while I was on the site. That was an unexpected benefit of online shopping for groceries – I could take my time if I wanted and make sure I was purchasing everything I needed. I could look in my cupboard and fridge as I was shopping. I also selected a lot of fruits and veggies. There were a few surprises like the garlic that arrived in a box which was wrapped in plastic but overall I felt the ordering website was easy to use and the whole experience met my expectations.

Some tips for using Hannaford To Go:

  • Shop the site as if you were shopping in store: make a list and search for specific items to avoid getting distracted.
  • I also had to make some compromises or changes, just like I would do if I was in store and something I wanted was unavailable, or unavailable organic.
  • Write in the comment box that you prefer NO plastic bags used – INCLUDING on produce and for the full order.

What do you think? Would you use a service like this?


2 thoughts on “Zero Waste Grocery Store Challenge: Hannaford Supermarkets

  1. I just found you while trying to find out more about bulk shopping-I too use Hannaford To Go (as well as other shopping options) and I never thought of noting on the comments ‘no plastic bags for produce’ (Duh! Can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself!). This was one of my pet peeves of using this service. Thank you for the helpful tip!

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