SHOPPING PLASTIC-FREE(ISH) AT THE SUPERMARKET
I love the idea of plastic-free shopping.
It looks blissful from what I see on social media - beautiful young hipsters wafting through their local zero waste store with their mason jars and cotton bags at the ready.
There's not a child, or a queue, or a single piece of plastic in sight.
I want me a piece of that.
But sadly, I am not a beautiful young hipster. My default setting is 'rush' rather than 'waft'. And even if I did waft I don't have a local zero waste store to waft around.
So what are the rest of us to do if we want to reduce plastic when we're doing our weekly trawl round the supermarket, with or without whining children in tow?
Here's 9 ways to shop plastic-free(ish) at your local supermarket:
1. Buy loose fruit and veg
Go for the loose fruit and veg wherever you can and take your own re-usable bags.
Onya do a great set of really thin mesh bags, or if you're a whiz with the sewing machine you can knock some up from something like an old net curtain.
If all else fails, use the plastic bags they have at the supermarket, but re-use them again and again until they fall apart.
2. Take your tupperware
Take your tupperware to the deli counter for things like meat and cheese.
Morrisons have now made it policy to accept these, and I think Tesco are also introducing it, so I promise you it won't be as scary as you might think!
If you're into beautiful zero waste stuff you can get some gorgeous metal tiffin boxes, or if you're like the rest of us you can wrestle with your mess of a tupperware drawer to find the lid that fits the box.
3. Use the bakery
If your local supermarket has an in-store bakery, use it!
Take re-usable bags (old pillowcases work well) and use them for bread, rolls, pastries etc.
If you've got the time and you enjoy baking, how about making your own? Either by hand or using a bread machine - flour is almost inevitably in a paper bag, so that's a winner.
Last resort - re-use the plastic bags that your bread comes in for packed lunches and sandwiches etc.
4. Go for butter
Ditch the plastic tubs of margarine and go back to butter.
If you can find butter in foil packs, you should be able to peel the foil and the greaseproof paper apart and recycle both separately. Simply chuck your empty butter wrapper into the washing up bowl after doing it and leave it to soak until the two layers magically float apart.
5. Look for paper
Look for the things that you can find easily in paper - you might be surprised just how many there are!
Flour, sugar (caster sugar, granulated sugar, and icing sugar) and porridge oats can all be found relatively painlessly in paper bags.
Biscuits are always going to be a struggle - but if you can buy the ingredients (flour, sugar, butter) plastic-free then this recipe here is super quick and super reliable!
6. Look for cardboard
Sometimes there are alternatives in cardboard rather than plastic that you just don't notice as you're so 'in the zone' and just grabbing your usual brand.
Lots of washing powders are now available in cardboard boxes - how about trying one of them instead of your usual liquid?
Several of the major supermarkets also do dishwashing powder in a box, so it's worth looking.
Pasta is a BIG staple in our house - Barilla pasta is available in a cardboard box with just a small plastic window and you should be able to find it in some of the larger supermarkets.
Waitrose do a gluten-free pasta that is available in a box made from food waste - more of this please supermarkets!
Rice is another one that can sometimes be found in cardboard boxes - just be sure to do the squidge test (see below).
7. Do the 'squidge test'
Sometimes you can buy a product in paper or cardboard, full of excitement and the very best of intentions, only to get home and find there is a sneaky plastic bag inside.
To try and avoid this, do the 'squidge test' - simply hold said product up to your ear and give it a gentle squidge, listening out for the tell-tale crackle of plastic inside (ignore any strange looks you might get from fellow shoppers - superman didn't care about wearing his pants outside his trousers, we can't let looking a few strange looks stop us on our mission...)
8. Go large
If you can't find a plastic-free solution that suits you and the family, buy the largest size that you can.
We get the big share packs of crisps and then
scoff the lot portion them out into plastic bags that we re-use for lunch boxes. And do the same for yoghurts too - get the 500ml pots and scoop it into little tupperware pots for the kids to have at school.
Totally not a perfectly plastic-free solution, but plastic-free(ish) and it keeps the kids vaguely happy, so it's a win in my book.
9. The sweet stuff
If you have a sweet tooth like
me my kids you'll be pleased to know you can still get your sugar fix plastic-free.
Most of the supermarket own brand bars of chocolate come in paper and foil, and work out way cheaper per 100g than the plastic bags of chocolates. Brands like Divine are also a pretty good bet (and very yummy and ethical too).
When it comes to the pure sugar rush of sweets, think pick 'n' mix if you still have a good old fashioned sweet shop or newsagents near you. An alternative that I was perhaps a little over-excited to discover over the summer was 1kg tubs (oh yes!) of Haribo in Morrisons - I won't tell you how long 2 tubs lasted us...