Wondering how you can reduce the number of single-use plastic bags and wrapping when doing your weekly shop? Maybe you’re giving it some thought but struggle to find the time or travel a lot. Maybe you just don’t know where you can buy food without packaging. If so I wrote this article with you in mind. I hope to motivate you and help you get over these constraints.
Steps to do your grocery shopping without plastic bags or packaging
First I have to own up! When we decided to get rid of all those plastic bags, polystyrene trays, wrapping and other unnecessary packaging it seemed a real challenge. Not impossible but a tall order for sure. Now looking back I can honestly say that it is not so difficult. It’s just a question of changing your routine and you’ll soon get into the groove.
The first thing you need to do before deciding where, when and what to buy is to solve the “how”. How to buy without all that plastic waste? Thankfully that is really easy, for dry food and fruit you just need some reusable bags made from sustainable materials like natural jute fibre, cotton or linen. While for perishables like fish or dairy I recommend glass jars, containers or metal food boxes.
Where to buy
Now comes the second part: Where to buy with your bags? Personally I recommend local bulk shops, farm shops, traditional greengrocers, wholefood stores and small independent fruit shops. With so many options and new shops springing up all the time you’re spoilt for choice. I’ve always been made to feel welcome in my local shops and I find the service more personal and friendly. You’ll also learn from talking to your local traders, like knowing what fruit and veg is in season, picking up cooking tips or finding out how best to store. My local baker tells me that bread stays fresher in cloth bags and I have discovered that the best way to store fruit and veg is in mesh bags. Natura fibre mesh bags allow produce to breathe whereas plastic causes food to rot as condensation gathers inside the bag.
If you’re like me and you often do things on the spur of the moment or are always in a hurry, then it’s best to take your bags with you when you leave the house. The great thing about cloth bags is that they’re super light and hardly take up any space.
Find a bulk store
If you need help finding local bulk stores a good place to start is the Bulk Finder app by Zero Waste Home.
How to bulk shop with a home delivery service
If you can’t actually get to the shops, maybe because of your schedule, your health or whatever other reason. I’d like to propose a solution. Leave a set of bags with your favourite local shops and ask them to use them when you do your shopping online or by phone. I find that local shops are willing to help. You’re saving them money as well as a tonne of unnecessary plastic bags! That said, don’t forget to give the delivery person another set of bags for your next purchase.
I hope this post is helpful, I’d love to hear about your experiences if you end up giving it a try. I can assure you that you will find a great deal of satisfaction with this change. Remember, many individuals making small changes will have a big impact on the planet.