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11 Tips to help you shop plastic free in a supermarket

Before I begin, I would urge everyone before going directly to a big chain, why not make a little extra time to support your  local independent shops to buy  your food?

Green grocers, butchers, fishmongers, health shops and so on, are often owned by a few people or family, which means they’ll appreciate your business. In supporting their small business you are also diverting money away from big corporations who are truly a massive part of the global plastic crisis. Never underestimate the powerful impact millions of small acts can have upon effecting and bringing about change.

Plus, it is much easier to connect with  and engage the owner or employees in discussions on the subject of unnecessary waste and plastic pollution in particular. You can highlight the dangers of single use plastic and even suggest alternatives.

At the moment the climate is perfect to host such a discussion as there is hardly a day that goes by when plastic pollution isn’t being discussed, be it on national radio, the local newspaper or the 6 o’clock news!

11 Tips to help you avoid plastic during your weekly shop in the supermarket:-

1. Take your own cotton produce bags and only buy loose fruit, veg, nuts etc. Herbs are rarely out of plastic so these will need to be sourced elsewhere:( .

I have about 20 produce bags, some cotton and some cotton mesh. This number seems to serve me well and nearly all are in use during a restock

2. Take your own tiffin’s and Tupperware boxes. The deli counter is your friend where you can buy all the food items that would normally come in plastic such as olives, samosas, meats,  and so on, but you can buy without plastic. You just need to tell the assitant to put these into your boxes. I haven’t seen homous in main stream supermarkets as yet, but health shops often sell homous in bulk. Otherwise, abstain from buying it and make your own instead

3. Take your wax wraps with you, you can use these for cheese and even bread

4. If they have an in-store bakery head there, where you can find loose bread, pastries etc, where you can use your cotton bags to avoid their plastic bags. If there isn’t a bakery, you could check out the easy bread mixes if you were rushed, these are normally in paper. Or head to your local bakery and ask for your bread to go in your own cotton bag

5. Sadly as far as I am aware if you’re determined to avoid plastic, then you cannot buy ANY biscuits as they’re all in plastic. However, you can buy flour as this comes in paper, so the good news is you can still have biscuits, you just have to make your own! The same applies to crisps and popcorn too. Why not try to make these at home too?

6. Jarred foods are OK , at least they can be repurposed and every element is recyclable. Only seek out jarred food with metal lids

7. You can buy tinned food as well, but be cautious to look out for plastic. Some tins are coated with plastic which means they can’t be recycled. You can reference the recycling instructions on the labelling to see whether or not it contains plastic. Plus, it’s probably best to avoid any food stored in plastic altogether

8. Unfortunately you are unlikely to find plastic free kitchen roll, tissues or loo paper in the supermarket, therefore you need to look elsewhere for this, unless they sell recycled paper wrapped in bio-plastic*? I have yet to see this, but I am sure in time they will appear.For now though, you might need to order your loo paper online or visit a local bulk or health shop instead, where you’re more likely to find it. Perhaps controversially, I have chosen to buy #whogivesacrap loo paper.  I chose WGAC because every element is recycled and there’s zero plastic. They also donate 50% of their profits to Water Aid. The loo paper is delivered to your door as well, which is very handy!

9. The freezer section  often has a lot of paper boxed items, although be cautious to check there isn’t an inner plastic wrapping by reading the recycling instructions.

10. While nearly ALL the sweets on the shelf are in plastic, the Pick and Mix ‘bulk’ section is loose and therefore, definitely OK to use!  I’m not claiming it’s a necessity and its definitely not healthy, but it’s there if you want it. They seem to label the ingredients really clearly, which means you can  read whether they contain gelatine or dairy etc.

11. Nearly everyone already does this thanks to the 5 pence bag charge introduced way back when, but never ever, ever forget to take your shoppers. The bag charge is really where our concern about plastic pollution and raising awareness of this, all began after all!

I should add here that tea and nearly all coffee is out of bounds as nearly all have elements of plastic, be it the lid or in the tea bags themselves (see earlier post). Even the loose tea is packaged within a plastic based foil. Order your tea and coffee an online plastic free grocery store or find somewhere local that offers these options in bulk.

Also, sometimes the item you need isn’t available outside of plastic packaging.  Either you avoid it OR you use your democratic right to protest and #leaveitatthetill

Let us know how you get on!,😁🌱💛✌🙌

*better than petro based plastic, still single-use 🙁

#beplasticfree #plasticfreetea #plasticfreesupermarketshop #plasticpollution #plasticoceans


Further Reading

Guardian: Supermarkets must stop using plastic 


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