The Plastic Free Food Shop Challenge

This week, I set myself the challenge of going plastic free in my weekly food shop (without having to go to a farmer’s market). I thought to myself, this won’t be too difficult, I just need to prepare beforehand and bring enough reusable bags for my groceries.

My main goals were the following:

  • No plastic
  • No packaging, where alternatives existed in the shop
  • Only recyclable packaging.

I arrived into Tesco, confident I would succeed in my challenge but within a minute, I realised this would be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated. I was sure that the fruit and veg section would be an easy win, provided I brought enough reusable bags to store all the produce. The photo below will give you an idea of just how hard it is to find unpackaged fruit and veg in a supermarket chain.

 

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I did, however, manage to find some apples, onions and carrots but veg such as Bell Peppers and fruit like oranges, all came in packaging.

Slightly discouraged, but still on track, it was time to get my meat. I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating the butcher was to put the meat into the tupperware I had brought with me. I did however have to stand my ground as he was insisting on putting my tupperware into a plastic bag (which would defeat the entire purpose of bringing my own containers) just so that he could stick on a price tag.

Juices and Milk were easy enough to source in Tetra-Paks. If you regularly by milk, it might be worth looking into using milk bottles but as I only use it on occasion, for now it will just be Tetra-Paks. If you like your juices, why not try buying juices in a glass container instead, or making them fresh?

I did have to give some items a miss in order to achieve my goal; yoghurts were all in plastic containers, apart from one which came in glass. It was quite expensive and probably only held a spoonful of yoghurt. I couldn’t find any snacks that came in fully recyclable packaging, plastic just kept popping up – if anyone has any suggestions on ready made snacks in recyclable packaging, I would love to hear from you.

Pasta and rice were almost all in plastic bags but there were some cardboard options. These are almost fully recyclable, though most had a small plastic sleeve to show the contents within – to me, it seems a little unnecessary. I did give in here as I had used up all my will power passing the sweets section untouched. Next time, I will look at bulk buying my grains at a farmer’s market though, unfortunately there are none in my local area.

 

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I have to say, I was pretty pleased at what I manage to bring home without buying plastic packaging (for the most part). I was also relieved that I wouldn’t be on a strict diet for the week due to my challenge.

The item I was most pleased with is definitely the bio degradable bin liners; no more black bin bags for me. They are slightly more expensive but now that I’ve reduced my general waste dramatically, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Going forward, I’m determined to reduce my intake of food packaging even more. If I can avail of bulk grain bins and find alternatives to my Tetra-Packs, I’ll almost be packaging free and not just plastic free.

Tips to succeed in a plastic free shop:

Go prepared. Think through your shopping list – you’ll need a tupperware container for each different meat.

Bring bags for fruit and veg. You can throw them all into one as I did, but this can be a bit of a pain at the check out.

Bring a clean bag(s) for breads etc., as you can’t wash these when you get home!

-Always keep the shopping bags in the car of your boot, or the bag you always carry with you.

Take your time – If you don’t see a plastic free alternative, take the time to look, they’re usually well hidden.

What about you? Have you ditched the plastic in your weekly food shop? Why not leave some tips in the comments? If you haven’t tried it, why not set yourself the challenge? You might be pleased with the results!

 

 

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