When it comes to single-use plastics, grocery packaging is one of the hardest things to try and reduce. Reusable veggie bags are great for fruits and vegetables, and many supermarkets now offer paper bags for their bakery products. However, for products which need to be well-sealed and airtight to remain fresh, even for a few days, it’s much harder. We’ve come up with suggestions for a few straightforward ways you can cut down on plastics in your supermarket shop.
- Buy cheese from the deli counter instead of choosing pre-wrapped options, where possible. Ask if they can wrap it in waxed paper, rather than using a plastic bag.
- If you’re shopping for meat or fish products, take airtight containers when you go shopping, and ask the fishmonger or butcher to put your purchases directly into those, instead of using plastic bags.
- Look out for sauces, oils, cordials, condiments and dried herbs in glass jars and bottles, instead of those in plastic containers. Shops often sell herb ‘refills’ in boxes, which may seem like a good option, but they inevitably have plastic bags inside to retain freshness.
- Buy in bulk, where possible, or team up with a friend to split the cost of larger purchases. For example, a 24 or 36-roll pack of toilet paper requires less plastic per roll than a package which contains just two or four rolls. It’s also more cost-effective, and means you’ll shop for that item less frequently, all of which is a win for both the planet and your pocket.
- If you have a freezer, you can also bulk buy products like milk, cheese and bread. Many people don’t realise you can freeze household basics like these, and so rely on pre-packaged versions when stocking up. Bakery bread can be frozen on the day you purchase it, although it’s a good idea to slice it first. Add sheets of greaseproof paper between the slices to stop them sticking together, and you can then defrost a few at a time, as you need them.
- Be a shampoo dodger (in the supermarket, at least). Rather than buying liquid shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles, try a shampoo bar or a 2-in-1 product instead. There are some great options – and amazing, natural ingredients, like rose, coconut and mimosa – in this plastic-free post by All Things Hair.
- Find out if any of your local supermarkets have a plastic recycling scheme. We like the suggestions in this post by Low Waste Weekly, and also their Low Waste Recommendation Directory.
As with so many of the steps towards making your lifestyle more eco-friendly, the important thing is to do what you can, and not berate yourself over the things which aren’t possible. Identify the changes you can make, maybe adding a new one each time you shop, and don’t forget to celebrate your achievements along the way.