6 ways to reduce the plastic in your supermarket shop

I’ve been planning this post for a few weeks now but struggling to find the time to get on the computer and write it!

We’ve been continuing on our quest to reduce the amount of single use plastic we bring home in our food shopping. This has involved signing up for a veg box and moving our purchasing to more local suppliers. It’s also required us to reorganise our meal planning week to fit with deliveries. I’m not going to pretend it’s been a completely easy switch but I do feel it’s starting to settle into a routine now.

The point of this post isn’t to encourage you to ditch plastic completely and spend your entire week trawling small shops for ingredients (although if you can well done you!) The aim is to share a few things that we have found easy to switch in the hope that you too can reduce your plastic consumption.

  1. Bags for life

You’re probably groaning at that one because it’s wonderful to see that this is now becoming part of our way of life. I very rarely see people out for what are obviously large planned shops without bags. If you are one of those people who mean well but never have a bag on them, how about purchasing a few fold up ones to have in your hand bag or in the boot? If you already do this, thank you on behalf of our planet.

2. Give up pre-packed fruit and veg

Select your fruit and veg from the loose boxes rather than buying the six in an easy to grab plastic packet. This does assume you are going into the shop personally and not shopping online. It doesn’t remove plastic completely. I have never seen a cucumber without a plastic sleeve in the UK, yet somehow our European friends seem to manage without these. In most shops you will also need to adopt point number 3 in order to avoid the plastic bags they give you to put your loose fruit/veg in.

3. Buy/Make some fruit and veg bags

So you resolve to pick your loose fruit and veg and all the supermarkets give you are plastic bags. Take your own! The easiest thing to do is to reuse the plastic bags they give you until they fall to bits. I am currently using my own brown paper bags which I picked up relatively cheaply. No one bats an eyelid at the checkout I promise you. Alternatively you can buy/make reusable fresh produce bags like these. These bags have weight which will add to the cost of your purchase and it is up to you and your budget as to whether you can afford to cover that.

4. Give up squash

If you live in a house with kids you probably get through a bottle of squash concentrate a week. Stop buying it. Get a jug and buy a few extra oranges or lemons each week instead. Slice your lemon or orange, add it to the jug with water and keep it in the fridge. The fruit will last 2-3 days before you need to change it and you just need to keep topping up the water. We love adding a bit of mint from the garden too and I’m sure fancy things can be done with strawberries, blueberries or peaches if you feel like pushing the boat out.

5. Look up your local milk man/lady

I admit buying milk in a returnable glass bottle is not going to be possible in every part of the country but it’s worth a google to see if you can. Think of how many bottles that will save each week.

6. Research alternative products

Next time you’re browsing the shelves have a glance around and see if there are other options. For example I’ve swapped plastic bagged porridge oats for cardboard boxed ones and plastic boxed spread to grease proof paper wrapped butter.  

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