Plastic free shopping can be really difficult. The main players in the Irish supermarket game are not making all that much effort to reduce their environmental impact. It seems it us up to the consumer to make the necessary changes. I’ve come up with some simple tips, to help you reduce the unnecessary packaging you’re bringing home with you. Hope you read something useful.
Tips for plastic free shopping:
- Bring your own canvas/reusable bags – I try to keep some canvas bags in my car, and in my kitchen. When you finish unpacking your shopping, remember to put them straight back in the car so that they will be there when you need them next. We’ve all gotten to the supermarket and thought “shit, I never put the bags back in the boot”! They sell really good sturdy canvas bags in a lot of supermarkets but even Penneys sell some good smaller ones.
- Choose only the loose options – In the fruit and veg section, there may not be many options when it comes to what is packaged in plastic and what is loose. So, it is up to you to purposely buy what is loose and nothing in plastic. Maybe that will send the message.
- Find out the supermarket’s policy on plastic packaging – I emailed the Dunnes Stores head office and got the all clear to remove any unnecessary plastic waste at the tills once the item has been scanned. Check your local supermarket, and if they allow the same, be sure to remove any plastic and leave it for the store to deal with. It feels awkward doing this at first, but the more people that do it the better. Why should you be stuck with all this packaging you don’t want? In the nicest way possible, let them deal with it.
- Find your nearest zero-waste shop. These shops are a great one-stop-shop for all your environmentally-friendly needs! If you live in Galway, check out “The Filling Station” – Galway’s first Eco Store. For a list of Eco Stores in Dublin, check out this post by Green Boarding Pass.
- Choose items in cardboard and paper over plastic. When it comes to dairy, chose cardboard cartons of milk instead of plastic. Same with Eggs. This applies to anything really. If there is a version that comes in paper over plastic, choose that.
- Pick the plastic alternatives. For non food items, there are so many plastic alternatives now. You can get bamboo tooth brushes, stainless steel straws and even reusable “Time of the month” underwear. A big form of plastic waste can be cling film. Try food wraps instead. These are widely available in Eco stores but these kinds of reusable items are starting to be introduced in chains now too. Penneys sometimes stocks stainless steel straws and other reusable items.
- Shop around. Instead of going to the large supermarket chains, split up your shopping. Go to a green grocer for your fruit and veg, which will probably be locally sourced and you can fill your bags yourself. Similarly, go to your fishmonger and butcher, and bring your own containers to take the items home in. By shopping this way you can significantly reduce the waste you have and you are also supporting local businesses.
Alternatively, If you don’t want the hassle of going numerous different places, go to your nearest farmers market, you can get all your stuff in the one place, while using your own boxes and bags and supporting local farmers.
Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay
There are a lot of improvements that can be made when it comes to shopping plastic-free. The most important thing is to make the effort. At the end of the week, the thoughs of going to numerous places to get all the items you need can seem too demanding. It can be all-too tempting, the convenience of walking into a supermarket and throwing all you need in a trolley without thinking about waste and being done with it for the week. But maybe we need to rethink our attitude to food.
Appreciate the food you buy as well as all the work that goes into putting it into your cupboards. Once you’ve gotten used to it, this more conscious, plastic-free shopping can be time to enjoy. Not only that, but you might find a boost in your mood, from the knowledge that you are doing your bit to protect the planet. Better for your conscience, the planet, and your pocket. It is time people tried to embrace the plastic-free movement.
Take a look at this article by Sophie Hines, who saved £200 in one month shopping plastic free. Maybe that might help with the motivation.
See more of my other environmentally friendly posts below: