First Shop for Plastic-Free July

So this is my first shop in two weeks, my first shop after discovering I buy too many vegetables at once, and my first shop for Plastic-Free July, other than my foray to the butcher on the week-end.

I used ONYA brand mesh produce bags at the greengrocer's, paper bags (which I save and reuse), and cloth bags at the bulk bin whole foods shop, and my cloth shopping bag collection at the local, independent supermarket.

I have to say, the possibilities at the supermarket were limited. I bought cans of fruit and coconut milk, a jar of curry paste, and a knob of fresh ginger because I forgot to pick one up at the greengrocer's. That was a month's supermarket shop.

Things I have realised you can't buy if you are plastic-free: anything from the frozen food section. Anything from the personal care aisle. Any crackers. Tortillas. Actually, pretty much anything from the supermarket except fresh fruit and veg.

Tonight, The Girl (she is home for uni holidays!) made tortillas for our vegetarian bean burritos. They were brilliant! She says they are easy. Huh, there you go.

Here are my cool reusable bags. I love them to bits!

My friend Carla bought me the mesh produce bags for my birthday. They are so cool and they come in a drawstring pouch so you can keep them all together in your handbag or glove box or wherever. Do you know what I gave Carla for her birthday? A tub of compost worms from my compost bin for her new compost bin. I think that whole transaction is pretty much a reflection of our relationship as a whole..

The small cloth drawstring bags were sent to me a couple of years ago by the lovely Jess. She made them out of an old sheet from the op shop. They were originally open at the top, meant for produce, but Rosy kindly sewed channels around the top and I threaded cotton piping cord through to make them into drawstring bags for filling with flour, sugar, oats, beans etc from the bulk bins at my favourite Wholesome House. Thanks so much, Jess! I love these so much, but I need more for my monthly shop. I am wondering which child to bribe to whip some more up for me..

I bought milk in cartons. These are marginally more recyclable than plastic milk bottles (I believe that you can only recycle plastic once). At least cartons are made from a renewable resource. On Saturday I will get some organic milk in returnable glass bottles at the farmers' market. It is almost twice as expensive so we may have to drink less..

I only bought a few days' worth of fruit and veg. The fridge feels very calm and uncluttered. What I couldn't get from the greengrocer is loose greens. They only come in plastic bags, so I will wait and get some on Saturday at the market. There is a stall there with the freshest and most wonderful greens selection I have ever tasted. Meanwhile we will eat broccoli.

Here is my plastic fail from today:

This is baker's yeast. I have to make bread somehow, and I am all out. At Wholesome House they open a large bag of vacuum-packed yeast and repack it in little plastic tubs and keep it in their fridge. At least the tub is reusable and then recyclable. What I will have to do is take a glass jar in with a note for them to fill it when they open their next bag of yeast. Or I could become a sourdough baker. Ok, not going to do that right now. Maybe later.

Anyway, at least Alter Eco chocolate is packaged in cardboard and foil. No plastic! Thanks, Alter Eco people:)


Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

Oh, my - I am wilting (like a bag of tasty greens . . .) with the thought of managing without plastic. One does have to start somewhere, though, so I guess I must try harder. I do bake with sourdough starter . . .

Linda said…
Very impressive plastic-free shopping, Jo.
Tracy said…
As I am reading this I'm wondering how practical it is to buy no plastic. Or maybe my days are just too flat out, so I don't have the mental wherewithal to figure out how to get a hold of what I need. I admire your determination immensely. It will be interesting to see how you go.
Unknown said…
Thinking deeper about going plastic free is so much harder than is would initially seem. I never thought of the extra little bits of packaging in a cardboard box! or the toiletries and milk. So sad all this plastic around. I hope something changes somewhere but I will start with reducing as much as possible.
Jo said…
Pam, sourdough! Yum! See, the things we think are too hard other people are just doing!

Linda, this has taken a while in the planning, but I am getting there..

Tracy, plastic is one thing that drives me insane, so this exercise is rather a pleasure really. What makes me crazy is the fact that EVERYONE agrees that plastic packaging is a disgrace, and yet no-one is doing anything about it EXCEPT the consumers, who, as you say, are generally pretty busy trying to get on with life. Surely the CEOs could be setting their packaging engineers onto this problem. It is, after all, their job..

Anyway, if I can help with anything that makes heading towards plastic-free easier for you, let me know:)

Clarissa, as I said above, I think the only way things will change is if we do start by changing the way we shop. Our stupid society is driven by the almighty dollar, so the way to change things is not to buy! Or to buy the sustainable option. As you say, not always easy..
Jo, you have inspired me to purchase some mesh produce bags. I often don't put my produce in bags at the grocery if I just have one or two of an item--a couple of apples, one head of cabbage, but sometimes I succumb to the lure of the bag. Bringing in my own reusable bags is a neat trick, and I cant wait to try it. Thanks!

Jo said…
Frances, I have resisted buying those bags for years, always telling myself I don't need to buy new things etc etc.. but the upshot is I now have a cupboard full of plastic produce bags! Thanks to my friend Carla I now have no excuse..

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