Grotesque images of plastic killing, suffocating, and starving marine wildlife and destroying our numerous ecosystems has sent shockwaves around the world. But how easy is it to cut plastic out of our lives?
In this post we’re going to take an in-depth dive into the world of supermarket shopping, and see how easy it is to avoid plastic without sacrificing your favourites.
Fruit, Veg & Nuts
Here is a section of the supermarket with quite an easy win. Buy loose!
Fruit and vegetables packed in plastic are completely unnecessary. The argument suggests it keeps the produce fresher for longer, making it more eco friendly due to less food being wasted. Our reply? Manage and plan your supermarket shop! Work out how long it takes for your produce to go off, and buy the correct amount to last you that amount of time. This is a really easy win with a little bit of planning!
And those plastic produce bags to put your loose fruit and vegetables in? Our advice would be to invest in your own cotton/ sustainable bag. You can find some great quality bags for low prices online, check out the links at the end of this article if you don’t know where to start.
Check these bananas out… disgraceful! There’s no need for this kind of plastic usage.
If you know a place to get loose nuts, make sure you shop there! They’re most likely cheaper than the packaged ones, and trust me they’ll taste better without the plastic.
Ask around and do your research before settling on a supermarket/shop that does not offer loose produce. You’ll be surprised at how many great options you may have in your local area.
Meat, Fish & Other Deli Items
This one is similar to fruit and vegetables. There are options without plastic! Bring your tupperware or tiffin box with you to the supermarket, buy loose meat and fish from the deli area, butchers or fish mongers, and make sure they put it inside your reusable tupperware/tiffin. If they really won’t let you use your own box, shop elsewhere. Nowadays supermarkets are very understanding of this and Morrisons even reward you for using your own container!
Bread & Baking Supplies
Bread is another easy one. Go to the bakery section of the supermarket and make sure you use your own reusable bag. If there is no baking section, go to an actual bakery, or even better, make your own bread! If you’ve never made your own you can find easy bread mixes in most supermarkets which are usually in paper.
Baking supplies can be more difficult depending on what you’re making. There will be a separate post on this, but we’ll cover the basics here.
1. If you use aluminium foil, please realise it is an infinitely reusable and recyclable item! Wash in the dishwasher if needed, and reuse as many times as possible. When you’re ready to recycle it make sure you scrunch it up in a ball at least the size of a baby’s fist (most centres reject aluminium foil if it’s not like this!). This tip will save you money as well. If possible avoid aluminium foil, as it is hardly an eco friendly option! If it is used, reuse it as much as possible and recycle appropriately.
2. See if you can find a teflon baking sheet. This can be reused potenitally for years at a time before needing another, making it a fairly good option and saving you money.
3. Avoid cling film like the plague! If you need to wrap anything, use a wrap made from beeswax or something equally sustainable. See the end of the post for a link to a beeswax product you can get if you don’t know where to find it.
4. Look for ingredients wrapped in paper or even better, glass, instead of plastic. If you bake on a regular basis, consider looking for a wholesale source that could save even more on packaging whilst saving you time and money!
Biscuits, Crisps, Popcorn, Sweets?
Sadly, there aren’t many options when it comes to products like these. Look out for brands that do offer plastic free packaging on the off chance you’re lucky.
If you cannot give up biscuits, consider making your own. The same applies with crisps and popcorn.
Check out your local zero-waste stores as they may have some great options when it comes to items like these.
If you really need sweets, try and find a pick & mix section in one of your local supermarkets. It’s not for us personally but it’s there if you want it!
Milk, Juices & Other Drinks
With drinks, it is always better to choose glass! This is because glass is recyclable and can be fairly easily reused too. This rule actually applies to most of your supermarket shopping…
There are some cases, especially with fruit juices, where you can make your own at home. This method is usually cheaper and more fun. It also helps your peace of mind, as you know exactly what the ingredients are in what you’re drinking!
Kitchen Roll, Tissues & Loo Roll
Unfortunately there aren’t a plethora of plastic-free options when it comes to these items either. For toilet roll, you can order online from #whogivesacrap. Every element of what you’re sent is recycled and there is 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!
Be Careful in the Freezer Section
Many products in this section you will see come in cardboard/paper. Be careful to check there isn’t an inner plastic wrapping by reading the recycling instructions on the packaging. This one catches a lot of people out!
Some Boss Advice
1. Glass jars are a good option, because they can be repurposed and every element is recyclable (check the lid is metal & not plastic if possible)!
2. Take wax wraps with you to wrap deli cheese in.
3. Check for the plastic-free “trust mark” on the packaging. Most major UK supermarkets have enrolled for this.
4. Love milk? Check to see if a glass bottle program runs in your area (bring back the good old days…).
5. Buy soap bars and look into making your own shower products. Toiletries are the worst for plastic!
6. When buying canned food, check the recycling text on the packaging. Sometimes there can be plastic lined in the can.
And last but not least...
Bring your own reusable bags to take it all home in! I feel like this point goes without saying nowadays, but I should still mention it…
Thank you for reading! See below a few links to products mentioned in the article to help you get started.