For many of us, grocery shopping is the first area where we try to cut back on single-use plastic and make sustainable choices in the products we buy. But, it can seem an impossible task. We know that supporting local shops / farmers markets and buying at bulk stores is best but not everyone has these near them or has the time to visit multiple places – most grocery shopping is still done at the supermarket. So, we are focusing our attention on how we can be smart and make Wise Choices on our weekly shop. By now, we are used to taking our reusable bags to the shops and but what other Wise Choices can you make when you go shopping?
Plastic-free fruit and veg
Make a stand at the fruit and veg section and leave products that are unnecessarily wrapped in plastic on the shelf. Look for loose products that you can either just put in the trolly (you’ll wash it/peel it at home anyway) or pop it in a reusable produce bag. If you’ve not got one on you, just hunt around for the paper bags by the mushrooms for an emergency solution.
Even before the recent announcement by some supermarkets, encouraging customers to bring their own containers (see below), there’s always been an option to ask if you can use your own container at the meat/fish/deli counters (and even bread). In our experience, most supermarkets have said yes when asked. There have been occasions where we’ve been refused, despite trying to engage with the management – we just let them know that we will take our custom elsewhere…
Make your own
Inevitably we all need some convenience food sometimes but with a little preparation, there are lots of things you can make at home instead of buying in plastic packaging e.g. hummus, coleslaw, guacamole, salsa, potato salad, cookies, soup, chilli, lasagne, curry etc… Join the slow food movement and discover the delights of home cooking (if you haven’t already!).
Every penny you spend is a vote for what you stand for. Whether you’re eating less or no meat/dairy to help reduce greenhouse gases, choosing sustainable fish, avoiding products with palm oil, refusing products with unnecessary packaging or choosing to buy organic/fair trade where you can – it all makes a difference. So have confidence in what you buy and tell people (shop workers, friends, family) why you make these choices and start a conversation.
Make the best choice you can
Inevitably many products at the supermarket will contain some kind of plastic but you can still make a Wise Choice
- Choose a glass jar or bottle instead of plastic bottle/pouch
- Select the biggest size you can – overall there will be less packaging
- Ensure the freshness or use by/best by date of your produce is compatible with when it will be consumed, to reduce wastage
- Give packets a gentle ‘squeeze’ to find out if there’s any hidden plastic inside – listen for the tell-tale sound of rustling plastic!
- Look out for the plastic-free ‘Trust Mark’ (see below)
- Choose products whose packaging is recyclable in your district
When it comes to climate change and plastic pollution the size of the challenge can appear to be overwhelming but making small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to the health of our oceans if enough of us do them. It can help us inspire others to make Wise Choices as well as help drive policy changes in both business and government.