The short answer is YES ABSOLUTELY. So #plasticfreejuly is upon us and there are still people in this country having “bag rage” over the removal of single use plastics from their beloved supermarkets. I am unsure in which world these people live in, but for most Australians this is good news – at least for the many people who were already bringing their own bags (how complicated is that ?). For those on the right side of history and willing to prevent single use plastic to enter our environment any further, here are quick tips to achieve a zero waste grocery shopping:
- Always keep reusable bags with you: I know, you always forget about it, you’re a master at collecting reusable bags. To prevent that to happen, always keep one or two slim reusable bags or plastic bags that you already own and can reuse in your purse, backpack, a box in your car etc. Always put them back there after use, simply be mindful about it and make it a priority. If you forget your reusable bags home, don’t do your groceries that day and come back another time when you have your bags.
- Shop at bulk food stores and even better, food cooperatives. In Sydney, my favorites are the long time standing Alfalfa house in Newtown and Manly Food Cooperative. They have everything you ever need in bulk and they actively promote sustainable practices. That includes oils, honey, shampoo, deodorant, dishwasher powder, EVERYTHING! On top of that, the produce and products are pretty much all certified organic or pesticide free, so shopping there is added health benefits, less environmental footprint and better karma for you. Both Alfalfa house and MFC offer free containers and boxes that you can take if you forgot yours or need more than you have.
- Keep food containers, small brown bags or plastic bags that you otherwise would have thrown out. Now your motto is “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle”. What you can’t refuse, reuse it over and over again until it is absolutely falling apart! Most of the time, items destined for single use can actually be used many times before their end of life.
- Don’t put loose fruits and vegetables in those flimsy plastic bags offered to you next to those at the supermarket. Just put them loose in your cart, who cares? It does not take much more time at the till and even if it does, that is your right not to get them. Is the convenience worth the consequences, i.e sea turtles and whales chocking on your needless banana bags?
- If you want something that is packaged, ask yourself: do you really need it? can you find it in bulk somewhere else? When you become committed to the cause, you will naturally skip the convenience and refuse things that are needlessly packaged even though you want them. You will feel deep inside that it’s not worth it, that killing the earth a little just for your own momentary pleasure is not right.
- If you do get something packaged, remove the packaging at the till, take your time doing it and nicely give the packaging back to the attendant and ask them to reuse it for something else or dispose of it. It is also their responsibility to dispose of their packaged goods responsibly. Harris Farm and small supermarkets take back their plastic trays and boxes willingly.
- Allow yourself some guilty pleasures that does not cost the earth as much as single use plastics… Like this organic vegan chocolate I got from my last grocery shopping! Cardboard and foil can be recycled. You can always do better next time and get chocolate in bulk :-)
- Your local farmers’ markets, The Source Bulk Food (no fresh produce), food cooperatives such as Alfalfa house and Manly Food Cooperative and even Harris Farm, Coles or Woolies are places where it is possible to do most of your shopping without getting single use plastics or any packaging at all.
- Grow your own herbs, nurture a veggie patch, get your hands dirty with good ol’soil! Even if you don’t have a garden some edibles are really easy to grow.
At the end of the day, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to refuse packaged food and single use plastics, the first and biggest step being getting used to it!
The featured image of this article shows my last grocery shopping, everything in the box comes from Manly Food Coop and the loose stuff in the bag from Harris Farm. Zero single use packaging is there except for the chocolate, and zero single plastics have been used at all. What does yours look like this #plasticfreejuly?