Here it is – the Grand Finale! Over the last 28 days I’ve given up supermarkets – an experiment that I conducted mainly out of interest and because I thought it would be and enjoyable to write about. It also was a protest at the way that some supermarkets have treated their customers during the recent ‘horsemeat scandal’. I felt that as a customer, it is hard to trust the large supermarkets and I wanted to object by taking my business elsewhere. I also liked the idea of supporting local businesses, many of whom have their own unique services to offer but, increasingly, it can be tough for many to survive in the shadow of supermarkets.
On days 25 and 26 I covered what I’d found to be the main advantages and disadvantages of living without supermarkets, which leaves the big question for today’s concluding post of how will I shop in future?
Ideally, I would like to be supermarket-free. For all of the major advantages that the supermarket offers me, I cannot get away from how deeply I was affected by reading the ethical arguments for avoiding them. Please see Day 16 for my post and, more importantly, for some really good links that are enlightening as to how supermarkets are able to bring such convenience and low cost to their customers.
Realistically though, being completely supermarket-free would be a huge challenge for me at this point in my life, especially with young children. I also feel that although I have learned a lot about the alternatives to the supermarket, it will take me more than 28 days to be able to shop as efficiently and affordably as I did prior to this experiment but please note I do want to try!
With that in mind I thought it would be helpful to me to write down some strategies I could apply (or mix and match) that will help me reduce my use of the supermarket and work towards me hopefully ditching them for good in the future.
This is also a good opportunity for me to say a huge thank you to those of you who have been in touch with me on Twitter. I have been very touched to have gained followers who are interested in the subject and I’ve had some really lovely messages of support and advice as well as retweets. It has surprised me in the best possible way that a few people have taken some inspiration from the posts and changed their shopping habits! I didn’t write this blog to ‘convert’ anyone but am so pleased to have found company along the way. So if you want to join me in adopting some strategies, come aboard and if you ever feel you’d like to either drop me a tweet or comment on my blog then, be assured, you’ll make me smile!
Here goes then, some strategies:
Give up supermarkets for a period in each year: I like the idea of using Lent – 40 days seems manageable, I now know some people do this anyway and it gives credit to the Fife Diet (see my first post, Date: 3 March 2013) who inspired this experiment. Most importantly, it would send a message to the supermarkets if an increasing number of people withdrew their custom together for Lent and damaged business for a while.
Refuse to buy presents and cards at the supermarket: I think this would be (for me at least) an easy way to cut down on using supermarkets. As I said on Day 1, it doesn’t necessarily show much appreciation or originality to pick up a special present with your weekly shopping.
Set a limit on how much you are prepared to spend at the supermarket: I’m a bit of an all or nothing person – I’m not much good at only having ‘a little’ chocolate each day for example. For this reason, if I’m going to use the supermarket for some things, I need make a conscious decision on how much I’m allocating e.g. £50 per month.
Buy anything that is easily available outwith the supermarket somewhere else: I regularly visit a shopping centre near home that has a number of big stores that sell some things at good value. I therefore definitely do not have to buy clothes, stationary, nappies or cosmetics at the supermarket.
(One problem I do still have however is a lack of knowledge on how ‘ethical’ other companies are. I therefore will need to start using a website such as www.ethicalconsumer.org or get a book on ethical buying.)
Source fruit and veg elsewhere: I was shocked by how much of this type of product can be wasted for not looking ‘good enough’ to sell in the supermarket. Consider also the air miles that are spent shipping out of season goods across the world. A veg box or growing your own (!) can help you reduce the money you are rewarding the supermarket with for these bad practices.
Again if anyone has any suggestions on ways to cut down supermarket-use I’d love to hear them.
Thanks to everyone who has read my blog posts over the last month, it’s been much appreciated. For every pound that may be diverted from supermarkets towards more ethical retailers as a result, I’m thrilled!
I’m off to think what I’ll write about next…