My plastic free journey: 5 steps to minimise plastic when food shopping

Zero waste / plastic free food shopping

Since I started my mission to go plastic free I have been having some really great conversations with people about plastic and the environment. It's amazing to realise that there are so many of us out there who are not happy with plastic and the effect that it is having on our health and the health of our planet. I have also discovered a wealth of resources and fantastic tips online (here is a blog I wrote about my top plastic free resources). Unfortunately it has also become clear how difficult we all find it to ditch the stuff! So I just wanted to give you a bit of an update on my last blog and to share with you my progress on plastic free and sometimes zero waste food shopping.

When I first started my plastic free mission I concentrated on some easy, quick wins. I started getting a veg box (cardboard with the occasional plastic bag for leaves), I started taking greaseproof paper to collect meat from my local butcher (and I am planning to do the same at the fishmongers). I also signed up for glass milk bottle delivery. I then moved on to my online food shopping habits and things became a little more tricky! However, we are still heading in the right direction and finding solutions.

We have cut down on the amount of juice and squash that we drink and I now buy a couple of glass bottles of juice a week from the milk man and I buy the occasional glass bottle of cordial. I recently wrote a blog about how easy it is to make yoghurt and this is still going well. A lovely friend of mine also gave me some kefir grains so I have been making my own milk kefir (I will blog about this very soon). Wine and beer come in glass bottles so we haven't had to sacrifice these (although cutting down for health and environmental reasons is no bad thing!).

So far so good but then we get on to the annoyingly prevalent plastic bag which seems to imprison the vast majority of dry goods in supermarkets. Even the innocent looking cardboard box of cereal is almost certainly hiding a plastic bag inside. How do we get around this?

I have searched and searched my local area and cannot find a bulk store anywhere. So taking my own containers to a shop for refilling is not an option for me and I am guessing the same applies for many of you. However, this is no reason to give up. I have a few tips for avoiding or minimising plastic packaging even when it seems impossible.

1) Look for cardboard without the internal plastic bag. On my third attempt at buying plastic free oats online I found a brand that are in cardboard only (although they are not organic so I am not 100% satisfied yet!). I have also found pasta in cardboard (with a tiny plastic window rather than a full plastic bag).
2)  If you can't find what you want without plastic (cheddar cheese is proving difficult for me) then try to think of alternatives so that you can avoid it or at least cut down. We now have eggs for lunch more often than we did and I have started buying soft cheese in foil and cardboard.
3) Consider buying in bulk rather than having lots of individual packages. I now do this for all dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
4) Think about making your own. I now routinely make my own bread rather than buying sliced loaves in plastic bags. It doesn't take long, it (usually) tastes delicious and it makes the house smell amazing!
5) Cut it out! Do you really need to be buying your kids individual bags of crisps and sweets? We all know they are not healthy so why not consider eliminating them? If fruit, cereal or toast are the only thing on offer at snack time the kids will cope (mine seem pretty cool about it actually!)

Not perfect at all but some major improvements with very little effort. I am so happy to say that we no longer have the guilt of throwing away single use plastic trays, plastic punnets or plastic bottles. 

If you have any tips or would like to know more please get in touch on Twitter or Facebook.