Last year, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet shocked us all with the extent of the problem of plastic in our seas. It is time to take action and reduce the amount of plastic and packaging that comes into the house. But how possible is plastic free shopping for the average person?
Steps to plastic free shopping
We use a traditional milkman so our milk and juice comes in glass bottles that are recycled. We also get cheddar delivered but that comes in a plastic wrapper.
Our fruit and vegetables come from a greengrocer delivery service. Really great quality produce, packaged in recycled cardboard boxes with the minimum of paper bags for items like mushrooms.
Each week we wait for the box to arrive to see what is inside. We don’t know what is coming and each week is different. It works for us as we wait for the box to arrive, then plan our weekly meals around the contents. This encourages me to try new recipes and eat seasonally.
We started years ago shopping locally as much as we could. It’s not always as convenient as a supermarket shop but it is definitely a much nicer experience. Many local shops use paper bags or you can just carry purchased items in a shopping bag. Over time you get to know who is serving you and there is always a quick chat.
A zero waste shop has opened up in town and now we take our own containers and fill with staples. We buy dried goods, cleaning materials, soap and shampoo using jam jars or newspaper to wrap. It’s a lovely place called Bamboo Turtle. It has enabled us to drastically reduce the amount of packaging and plastic in our recycling bin. Another benefit is that we only buy what we need, further reducing the waste from our kitchen.
Our local butcher has embraced the times and encourages you to take in your own containers.
It’s an on-going process
Even taking these steps, plastic free shopping is difficult to achieve. We don’t have a deli in town so the only way to buy cheese without packaging is from a counter at the supermarket. Some like Morrison’s are now accepting your own containers but if you ask in others, it still means a raised eyebrow!
Yogurt is another item that comes in plastic packaging. I can make it but when time is short it is easier to buy. Only the premium single portion “dessert style” yogurts seem to come in glass containers.
It makes me cross how much packaging goes around fresh vegetables in supermarkets. If we need extra to our delivery or want an ingredient for a dish, the only option in town are supermarkets. Cucumbers are supplied wrapped in plastic and then placed in a box. Peppers come in packs of three. Loose apples are not always easy to find and the smaller convenience stores only sell in plastic bags. With the resources available to them, the big chains could do better.
So, how possible is plastic free shopping? At the moment, it takes planning, time and shopping locally to reduce the packaging and plastic in our weekly shop as much as I can. Even then it is hard to have a week where nothing comes into the house plastic wrapped.
Rather than get depressed, I think the best option is to tackle the problem bit by bit.
My plan is to work room by room. I will work out what impact each room has on our shopping habits, the amount of plastic and packing brought in and where I can make changes. I’ll see if I can find plastic free swaps or make something I have previously bought.
From time to time, I’ll report back on progress.
If you have any suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them.