The grocery sector accounts for 70% of packaging waste in the UK. About 4.9 million tonnes of this is household related, and much of this ends up in landfill or, worse still, in our oceans. But with our supermarkets being plastic meccas, how can we ever achieve a zero waste food shop?
Well, you might be surprised, because just changing a few grocery shopping habits can all add up. Starting with the obvious - ditch the plastic shopping bags. Whether its a stylish basket for your weekly shop, or a fold-up bag that fits in your pocket for impulsive shopping, pick something practical that suits you.
Nature already provides the perfect compostable wrapping for our fruit and veg. Did supermarkets not get the memo? Why are they putting avocados on a plastic tray in a plastic bag, and laminating cucumbers? To avoid plastic in the supermarket, the best trick is to shop the perimeter and avoid the middle aisles. You might not achieve the perfect zero waste food shop, but at least you'll avoid the heavily packaged biscuits and snacks. Buy loose fruit, vegetables and bread loaves. Instead of using those flimsy plastic bags that stretch and break, bring your own produce bags. No doubt other shoppers will notice, and may even change their own habits.
If you want to go one better, shop locally at the farmers market, green grocer and baker. This will really boost your eco credentials by avoiding the carbon miles. Some markets or grocers sell milk in glass containers, which not only avoids plastic bottles, but tastes better too. You could also look for local glass-bottle milk deliveries. Try bringing your own containers for cheese.
Want to really nail the plastic-free shop? Look for a grocery shop with a bulk section to grab nuts, dried fruits, flours, seeds, muesli or tea. You simply scoop out the amount you need into your own containers or bags. These stores are rapidly gaining popularity with new ones popping up across major UK cities, and there are now many zero waste shops in London. Embrace the package free foods that are available. Eating whole foods is much healthier!
What are your top tips for a zero waste food shopping routine? Share in the comments below!