Plastic-free Me: If you don’t ask, you don’t get!


Almost everything seems to come wrapped in plastic these days and I realise that it’s going to be difficult not only to avoid single use plastics but, even more so, to let suppliers know this simply by changing my purchasing habits.

It has occurred to me that rather than letting shops and internet sites guess what I’m doing, I should be informing them directly whenever I can. Of course I’m in a tiny minority of people who are hoping to take part in Plastic Free July 2014 but perhaps some suppliers will listen to my request for plastic free products and stock more of them? Cutting out single use plastics for a month isn’t going to save the world but I like the idea that I might make the whole ordeal easier for myself and others by spreading the word…

I have decided to make a start by contacting a company that I hope will be sympathetic to this issue – Real Foods, which has two stores in Edinburgh and an online shop. I mention them in an earlier post as an alternative to the supermarket. Real Foods sells a range of items which (as well as food!) includes toiletries and cleaning products.

This page on their website offers me hope in the following statement:

Ask any of our team if you cannot find what you are looking for and they will help you find or order whatever you need. Real Foods has the ability to source and supply any product within the natural foods and alternative therapies market.

Perhaps they might be open to a few requests?

They go on to say:

Always conscious of our impact on the environment, we strive to recycle and consume energy in as many ways as possible.

Maybe they will be open to the concept of Plastic Free July?

Real Foods is on my mind as I had popped into one of their stores on Friday evening and was disappointed by how many products there were packaged in single use plastics. I’m not criticising, I think my hopes were too high. There is little awareness of single use plastics as a problem YET. At the moment I am very much on the lookout for outlets I can use in July (ideally from now) that I can confidently visit knowing I can do some plastic-free shopping.

However, I have reason to feel positive. There was a display of ‘naked’ soaps and loose fruit and veg. Indeed there were products such as cereal that could be purchased by weight but I’m not sure if the bags provided to carry them home in were paper or plastic. Maybe Real Foods would consider stocking a few more items that I can rely on in July?

This evening, I have emailed them the following:

Subject: Plastic Free Products

Dear Real Foods

I am going to take part in Plastic Free July 2014 and I wondered if you have heard of it?

It’s a campaign that encourages participants from all over the world to join in giving up single use plastics for the month of July. The website address is Examples of single use plastics include shampoo bottles, drinking straws, plastic shopping bags, cling film, toothpaste tubes, bin bags, cellophane wrappers, liquid soap dispensers, disposable cutlery, sweet wrappers, freezer bags, plastic food trays, yogurt pots, milk cartons, nappy sacks, plastic packaging….I could go on!

Having been in your Broughton Street branch on Friday I notice that you do sell some plastic free products – more perhaps than your average supermarket. Also having read your website over the weekend I notice that you are open to requests from potential customers and state that you support those who wish to lead a greener life.

All of this sounds great. Would you consider stocking more plastic free products? Although I aim to give up single use plastics in July, I am already trying to reduce how much I use them and of course find out where I will be able to source them during what could be a very tricky month for me next summer!

Examples of products I’ve found difficult to buy plastic-free include:
• Washing up liquid/dishwasher tablets
• Herbs & spices
• Milk
• Bottles that pour, such as oils (often the pourer is plastic)
• Make-up
• Suncream
• Dried fruit & nuts
• Pasta

I’d love to know your thoughts!

I am writing this email as part of my blog . Over the next 9 months I hope to be contacting many companies, some – like yourselves – to ask for help generally and others who provide specific products I use, to ask if they can provide that product in plastic free packaging.

Ideally I would like to publish your response but I understand if you would rather reply to me personally. Please state if you do not want your response included on the blog.

Thank you for reading.

Fingers crossed that I receive a reply and permission to publish it.

If you are interested in taking part in Plastic Free July or simply reducing the waste caused by single use plastics then maybe you too could consider communicating with shops? The more we ask for what we want, the greater the chance there will be a variety of plastic free goods on our shelves in July and the more the issue of plastic waste awareness is raised in our communities.

Feel free to use my email as a template for adaptation.

12 thoughts on “Plastic-free Me: If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

  1. Great idea to contact companies and ask them to go plastic free! I am really struggling to find affordable plastic free milk in my area and tried phoning a local dairy farm to ask them if they would sell milk that I could put in my own reusable container. They never got back to me, but maybe I should try getting a local business on board. The milkman is currently my only local option for buying milk in glass bottles (as far as I know) and they only sell them in 1 pint bottles, that they don’t recycle. They are also quite expensive. We go through a lot of milk in my household and what I really want is to be able to buy local milk at affordable prices in glass bottles that can be returned and reused. Is that too much to ask???

    • I know how you feel! We apparently have a company that does deliver in glass bottles which I’m about to investigate. We also get through loads of milk so I think it might cost but I feel so guilty when I see those big cartons all sitting in the recycling bucket. Hopefully I’ll be able to post about it soon.

      • I find it extremely hard to believe that making new plastic bottles, or recycling glass or plastic ones, is cheaper than getting glass bottles returned, cleaned and re-used.

        Isn’t that how things used to be done? When and why did this change? Is this what economic progress is? It’s the equivalent of smashing windows just so you can replace them to boost the economy / GDP if this is the case.

        Just did a brief bit more research:

        Good ole wikipedia. Looks like energy use may be around the same. But when we get more renewables producing our energy (transporting bottles back to be washed, heating water for washing etc…) then surely the clear winner would be re-using so plastics aren’t dumped.

  2. Of your list,

    • Washing up liquid/dishwasher tablets
    • Herbs & spices
    • Milk
    • Bottles that pour, such as oils (often the pourer is plastic)
    • Make-up
    • Suncream
    • Dried fruit & nuts
    • Pasta

    I found pasta in carton boxes in the normal supermarket…
    Herbs, spices, dried fruit and nuts I was able to find at the market and/or in a bulk store (in the Netherlands; see my photos and text-in-italics here).
    The other items I also haven’t seen without plastic here.

  3. Pingback: Meaner Greener Me: Self catering holiday | westywrites

  4. Yay! Good for you! I have been doing this too. I think the more emails companies receive, the better.

  5. I have to confess, this is something I need to work on. By which I mean, do. When I first did PFJ two years ago I wrote to a few companies here in Australia, and got zero response. Zero (Australian customer service is light years behind the UK so I’ve learned…sadly). That put me off and I haven’t really gone about it since. Then you go and blog about it and show us all (by which I mean me) up!

    It’s on the to-do list : )

  6. Pingback: Day 10: Plastic Free July 2010 | westywrites

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