So far I have discovered supermarkets aren’t plastic free life friendly…. If you think of all the things in your fridge and pantry that come in plastic then you will soon realise how much single use plastic you go through. Pasta, flour, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, yoghurt, milk, bread, snacks, crackers, muesli bars, biscuits, toothpaste, toilet paper etc…
I think the best way to approach this is to do the best you can. No one is perfect and it is so much better for you to try do a few things than have everyone to ignore it. Also I’m a big fan of supporting local so sometimes it’s better to go with a single use plastic made in New Zealand item than a box that as traveled from the other side of the world.
If you shop predominantly at the supermarket, here a few tips that can help.
Take your own bags and produce and bulk bin bags
Choose items that come in a cardboard box or paper bag rather than a single use plastic bag
Choose glass jars rather than plastic containers - you can reuse these over and over - for example in winter I buy mayo in a glass jar, I choose this over any plastic squeezy bottles. Same for all sauces and olive oil.
Look for cans that aren’t lined in plastic or choose tomatoes in glass - like passata
Support brands that have sensible packaging.
If the item you need comes in plastic, at least look for a reusable bag, one that seals and use it in your freezer for your vegetable stock scraps. Or perhaps use it for your sandwiches or storing popcorn.
If your supermarket has a built in butcher, take your own containers and ask for them to put the meat in them. Same for fish.
Avoid polystyrene meat trays. Choose meat that is on the clear recyclable trays - I know that are wrapped in cling film but a recyclable base is better than a polystyrene. Companies like Bostock chicken have switched to all home compostable packages- support these companies!
For cleaning products, choose brands that come in cardboard and that are better for the environment. Or head to supermarkets that provide a refill - like the New World in town, it has an Eco Store refill and you can refill your containers
Choose milk and diary products that come in cardboard you will reuse over again. (though I was just looking at the milk we have in a carton and I can’t see a recycle sign?)
Cheese…. this is a tricky one as most cheese is single use plastics. There are some artisan cheeses that are wrapped in paper or wax. If you head to the local farmers market then you can often get delicious cheese. Here in Christchurch we have the Cheese Monger- I’m sure you could take your own container or Emilios cheese is also at all the farmers markets.
Buy in bulk where possible. Not only does this save you money but you use less packaging.
For me, I head to the market first and buy produce, eggs, sometimes bread and whatever fruit is available. We make this a family outing and walk down and then head to the park if it’s nice.
Then I think about what I want to cook and go to the butcher and supermarket and fill the gaps. Sometimes I go to our local vegetable shop which is The Funky Pumpkin to top up on fruit and sometimes check out the Asian grocer while there, which turns out you can’t buy anything from in plastic free July!
Where to shop…
Heading to the local farmers market to get your produce, everything is loose and it’s nice and fresh. Plus then you can buy delicious treats. Take your coffee cup to.grab a coffee Take your own bags and jar or containers.
Head to the butcher with your own containers. Have a chat, ask what’s good, what is on special. Form a relationship and support a local owner operator.
Take your containers to the fish monger - ask what’s fresh in. Try new things. Strike up a conversation.
Local organic and wholefood shops - have you ever looked at the organic section in the supermarket and thought wow that’s expensive? Well it is. I hardly ever buy organic items from the supermarket. I usually buy in bulk from these stores and go once a month or two depending on what I’m cooking.
In Christchurch there are quite a few to support. Often cheaper than non organic. Lots of stores now have cornstarch bags or bags made of paper or plants. All of them let you bring your own containers, just weigh them and write the weight on the bottom. Have a google of wholefood shops near you.
Piko Wholefoods -these guys have been around for 40 years. Lots of great products you can find here. They also have a refill station for maple syrup, honey, oils, detergents, soap, eggs etc and most of their packaging is made out of plants.
Liberty Market - strange building that you have probably driven past a lot. Lots of bulk bins with a high turn over. Good price for seeds, nuts and coconut. Coconut oil in jars, bulk flour, cleaning products etc. It is pretty kid friendly too, mine love it! Though it is sometimes hard to leave!
Wholefoods Riccarton - On Riccarton road, not one I go to frequently as it’s on the other side of town from me but they have a great range of stuff. Vegetables, diary, meat, bulk goods. Not sure on their packaging.
Bin Inn stores - they are all over the country and are great for bulk buying. Take your own containers and bags