Ooooh noooo! This isn’t going so well. Shopping, while avoiding single use plastics, is really difficult!
I know that Plastic Free July is becoming an international challenge so maybe experiences are different in other countries, but it’s really hard to avoid them here in Scotland without changing your shopping habits completely. Of course, this is a reason Plastic Free July evolved – because of the excessive use of plastic in so many countries, resulting in huge environmental issues.
On Day 2, I headed to the supermarket to do my food shopping. As is widely documented throughout my blog, I gave up supermarkets for 28 days earlier in the year and have changed my shopping habits dramatically ever since. One result is that I have seriously cut down on what I buy at the supermarket. I visit less it often than I used to and, when I do, I feel guilty about what I consider to be their bad practice (see my previous post). I am therefore reserved in what I spend there and I avoid deviating from my shopping list.
For this trip, I had the goal of avoiding as much single use plastic as possible and buying instead whatever brand could offer me packaging made of alternative materials. It wasn’t that simple. Here’s what I bought that included plastics:
The most disappointing item had to be the swede which was wrapped in plastic (surely completely unnecessary) and the organic peppers which came in plastic bags, although they sell normal peppers (which I can only think of as ‘pesticide enhanced’ peppers), loose.
The strawberries and blueberries were for a recipe that I’d promised the kids I’d make, otherwise I’d have avoided them. I couldn’t find an alternative packaging for buying cow’s milk – it was plastic all the way and really annoying was the fact that the juices, although appearing to come in cardboard containers, all had plastic pourers glued to the top of them.
Here’s a picture of the things I bought that (I think!) are plastic free.
I avoided buying yoghurt because of the plastic tub (despite it being a big favourite in our house), organic carrots (again you can only get them in a bag, although usually carrots are loose), I took the sweet potatoes to the checkout without a polythene bag and I took my own shopping bags to transport the food home.
I came home feeling disappointed. Although I am not expecting to reach the gold standard of excluding single use plastics altogether, I didn’t realise I’d have such limited choice.
The following day my veg box arrived – you can see a sample of the things I get in it here. The fruit and veg (and now organic free range eggs too) arrive in a reusable plastic crate and mainly the produce is either loose or in brown bags. Only items that really benefit from plastic come in small poly bags, some of which are fully compostable. After my shopping trip I arranged to increase my order further so that I can hopefully completely avoid supermarket plastic on fruit and veg.
I have been thinking a lot about Plastic Free July this week (read more here) so when I went to visit a friend for a play date with the children on Day 4, instead of taking a packet of shop bought biscuits, I baked banana bread and wrapped it in foil. The children enjoyed helping me make it and the majority of the ingredients came in plastic-free packaging.
My Meaner Greener Me blog has the aims of ethical consumption and responsible waste disposal so on Day 5 I attempted a shopping trip on my local high street to avoid the supermarket and to support the local economy.
…really not good for avoiding single use plastics. Despite us travelling on foot, taking our own shopping bag, buying fair trade organic banana chips and purchasing milk supplied by a local dairy, it was definitely a Plastic Free July fail!
If you’re taking part in Plastic Free July or, like me, just trying to be a bit more responsible in your consuming, do get in touch! I’d also love to hear any suggestions you might have to help me with my challenges.