Plastic Free July is a fantastic place to begin your journey to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle whilst also helping to preserve our beautiful planet. I began looking into all aspects of eco living three and a half years ago and once I was aware of the damage plastics are continuing to create in our oceans, land and the food chain I began to change what I bought and very importantly how I buy food, clothing and household items.
But let’s get back to saying NO to single use Plastic Packaging to stop plastics contaminating our oceans and being dumped into landfill sites.
Buying Plastic Free in Supermarkets
There’s nothing wrong with going to a supermarket, although it’s very tough to avoid and tempting to slip into single use plastic habits! I avoid a few because of their ethics. As someone who worked in a supermarket chain for 13 years (7 of those years in management), I understand the pros and cons of the corporate retail world.
I shop mostly in Aldi, a little in Lidl (budget superstores) and sometimes in the Co-operative (mainly small shops here in the UK). I always take extra bags folded in a big bag and 3 large organic cotton bags for loose items like bakery loaves of bread that are not wrapped, single cakes and bread rolls which are not wrapped and loose produce.
So let’s start with which things are plastic free and come in recyclable packaging in supermarkets.
Tinned and jarred fruit in juice, soups, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas which are all high in protein and low in fat) and vegan ready meals!
All supermarkets sell these and after trial and error I believe you get the best quality and price in Aldi and Lidl. Glass jars of passata, pickled gherkins, onions etc are also great to wash and re use for refill items as they are air tight and have large lids which makes it really easy to fill them up!
I also buy ready meals in tins which may sound a thing of the past but you can actually get organic ones like taco chilli beans in sauce, veg stews and curries, baked beans. These are found in free from and tinned food aisles and are a great alternative to plastic packaged ready meals. They also last for at least a year so no food waste either! I wouldn’t buy these with meat or dairy in them because the meat would be industrially and mass produced. You could add organic or locally sourced meat to them as a meal if you wanted to.
Locally grown products made in your county and country.
Somerset is famous for its cheddar and cider, many small or family owned producers trade with supermarkets – here we have Brother’s Cider, Thatcher’s Cider to name a few. Some items may just say Somerset in the title of the product. Cheese can be purchased from deli sections and by taking in a container to put it in you can buy plastic free too! Buying from local businesses directly is better but if you see these in a big store buying them instead of others sends a great message to the store.
Organic, Fairtrade and B corporation products.
B Corp certified means businesses that are are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. Find the whole list of this amazing companies on there website https://www.bcorporation.uk whats not to love about these companies. There is a link to different countries here too so you can find b corps outside the United Kingdom!
Purchasing Organic and Fair Trade goods such as bananas, cocoa, coffee tea and beauty products with Organic or Fair Trade ingredients are the best way to support farmers and their communities in many Countries in Africa, Asia, Southern America and the surrounding Islands. I will share more about both in a separate blog but you can find out companies supporting Fair Trade here.
Organic products are also a great way to support environmentally friendly farming as no pesticides can be used and famers can then grow food for their community along side their crops. Here farmers producing organic meat, cheese, milk, grains, fruit and veg is a great option but hard to find unwrapped in supermarkets. To learn more about organic certification look here.
Loose unwrapped cheese, deli, meat, bakery goods, fruit, vegetables and nuts.
Before you go out buying lots of containers go through your kitchen cupboards, I bet you will find a few that just need a good scrub! Also think about keeping takeaway tubs and spread tubs that are easy to clean thoroughly too! Use the Deli counter, meat and fish counter to purchase unwrapped food!
Organic cotton bags are light and easy to take with you for unwrapped bakery bread and cakes. Also loose small fruit, vegetables and nuts this also shows the superstores you want to buy plastic free.
Tinned and bottled drinks.
Okay so big brands are okay to buy if packaged in cardboard packaging and plastic bottles are more likely to be recycled than most other plastics too.
However we have been buying Aldi’s own brand of sugar free Cola, Tropical crush zero sugar and Tonic water all in cardboard wrapped multipacks of cans. Did you know that cardboard and tins/cans are the easiest materials in process and emissions to recycle! Whilst A LOT of plastics are not recycled at all even if they say they are recyclable! I’ll be doing a blog about the different types over the next week, it’s crazy….it really is!?!
Milk and Milk Alternatives
So like meat, dairy in mass production is one of the worst things affecting our planet. It’s really a lot to take on board so again I will post another blog about how bad it is for us and our planet.
Buying Organic milk in the supermarkets or buy directly from your nearest farm is the best way to buy milk and cheese.
After reading a lot about CO2 emissions and as a family we drink a lot of milk we decided to try out the best most eco friendly alternative Oat Milk!
You can easily make you own and nut milks too but you would not get the calcium benefits you would of if you were drinking Cow’s milk. Because of this we buy of Oat Milk with added B vitamins and calcium in Aldi – it’s half the price of other brands, it tastes good after a good old shake, it doesn’t have to be kept cold until you open it which means it doesn’t have to be transported in fridges either! You can recycle the Tetra Paks (Forest Sustainably Certified packaging.)
So these are my basic tips on shopping in supermarkets after three and a half years of struggling to reach Plastic Freedom (which is also the name of a inspirational and Plastic free website here in the United Kingdom check it out to see whats available). I hope this helps and I’ll be posting more of my favourite Plastic Free products later this week.
Thanks for reading, Emily. x.