So this week, I decided to see if I could complete the challenge of shopping packaging free for one whole week! One week may seem like a small feat, but I was astonished at how much of our food consumption is wrapped in plastic, how easy it is to actually avoid it and discovered which industries are notorious for packaged produce.
*A note before I begin. During this week, I considered glass, metal and paper to be ‘package free’ as these can be 100% recycled, reused or composted.
And so we began..
Planning is Key. Convenience is a killer.
I am a routine shopper. I set aside one day on the weekend to buy all of our food for the week. This works to my advantage as pre planning all my meals creates a comprehensive list of items that I will need to buy. Using this list, you can spot items that you know are packaged in plastic, and try and find alternatives to the produce itself, or find other places you can get it unpackaged. Without this pre planning, you’re more likely to need something last minute, which gives you little flexibility to get the produce that you need unpackaged.
Make sure to factor in your schedule for the week and to buy the right quantity to avoid food waste or last minute take away food to make up for an empty fridge at home.
Meat and dairy is a drag
By looking at the list, it’s easy to see that meat and dairy is the hardest to come by without being packaged in plastic. There are however some milks, yoghurts and cheeses you can buy in glass bottles or jars, but you may need to go to a specialty store for these options. Try and find a local butcher or deli who are happy to wrap your meat in paper (not the plastic coated kind). Delis are also open to you bringing your own containers for cheeses etc.
Find a bulk food shop near you
Our local bulk food outlet is Alfalfa House. They supply an amazing range of legumes, spices, grains, cleaning products and organic food in bulk. The downside to pre-packaged food is pre-determined amounts; at bulk food stores, just bring your own jars or bags to fill with the exact amount of you need. There are usually jars and bags available for free or for purchase at most of these stores.
Buying bulk is also a good way to reduce your canned goods consumption, you just need to soak legumes ahead of time or boil them prior to eating. Plus in my opinion they taste so much better!
Don’t underestimate the power of the brown paper bag.
Supermarkets make it really easy for you to package up all your individual food items into plastic bags, but in fact, you can have a recyclable and compostable option right there in the mushroom section. These are perfect for smaller loose items such as beans and brussels sprouts. For bigger fruits and veg, there is no reason why you can’t have these loose in your trolley or basket. If it’s going to save the life of dolphin or turtle and decrease our crude oil consumption, I’m sure it’s worth the small amount of trouble.
If you are interested in what my package free shopping list looked like, click here.