Tuesday, 24 July 2018

12 ways to wean yourself off supermarket plastic

Supermarkets ore often synonymous with large amounts of plastic. Not only are many of the products on their shelves sold in single use plastic but much of this produce will also arrive at the supermarket on trays wrapped in plastic that are on pallets that are further wrapped in plastic.  Now in an ideal world all consumers would turn their back on these plastic producing supermarkets who would then be forced to change their ways if they were to survive.  But we do not live in an ideal world so what can we do right now to reduce how much plastic we buy?  How can we wean ourselves off supermarket plastic?

12 ways to wean yourself off supermarket plastic

1.  Use your own shopping bags and not just at the till. Invest in some reusable produce bags and use those in the fresh produce section.

2.  Do not shop online where you cannot see how much plastic you are buying.  If you do shop online does your supermarket offer a "no plastic shopping bags" option?

3.  If you do end up using or getting plastic bags, reuse them as many times as you can e.g. to freeze food, as bin liners etc - anything where you might otherwise have used a new plastic bag.

4.  Ask if the butcher/deli will put food in your own containers - many can tare the weight of your pot easily.  Morrisons are now promoting this but if your supermarket butcher says no then go higher and speak to the manager.

5.  Make your own meals rather than buying ready made - it is often easier to get ingredients without plastic than ready made meals, especially if your supermarket has a bulk buy section:

6.  Some supermarkets now have products in bulk buy free flow containers so use these and if the bags they supply have a plastic strip in them then take your own.

7.  Switch to brands that not wrapped in plastic - I now but crème fraîche in glass jars, pasta in cardboard boxes etc.

8.  If a multi pack is wrapped in plastic either search out a brand wrapped in cardboard or buy the product individually without the plastic wrapping.

9.  Look for alternatives that have less plastic - for example many tea bags contain plastic but loose tea does not so even if both come in a box over wrapped in plastic loose tea will have less overall plastic.  Switch from frozen veg etc to fresh.  Some biscuits have a lot less plastic packaging than others.  You might already be good at checking product prices or ingredients - now become a savvy anti-plastic shopper too!

10.  Switch to the milkman - even if you only do this for just one delivery a week you are reducing your plastic intake.

11.  If you can only get a product in plastic go for largest possible packet to reduce amount of plastic per kg or litre of product.

12.  Alternatively if you cannot find a plastic free alternative then try to buy that product less.  If you normally get it every week try every other week and go for something totally different in between.  I love cream cheese but can only get that in a plastic tub so I instead of buying one small tub every week I buy one bigger tub every few weeks and in between eat other cheese products that are plastic free.

But what about when there really are no alternatives?

Then this is time to put some pressure on supermarkets to find and offer alternatives:

Contact the supermarket and say why you are no longer buying products in plastic or buying less of them.  You can both email and write to them and ask them on social media.  Name and shame supermarkets on social media when they excessively use plastic. The more people who do this the greater the pressure we can exert to see the change we desire and that our planet needs.  But on the other hand we also need to applaud supermarkets when they make genuine positive steps to reduce plastic. 

Reducing how much plastic is on supermarket shelves must be led by both the supermarkets and the consumer.   Consumers need to keep up the pressure on supermarkets to bring about change and at the same time they need to buy these plastic free products.  Sometimes they may be more expensive and for some people this will genuinely be hard.  For many, though, it is not impossible and can be offset by other green steps such as reducing food waste, growing a few of your own vegetables, not buying so many other unnecessary consumer goods, lowering energy bills, reducing unnecessary car journeys etc etc.

Have you managed to reduce how much plastic you bring home form the supermarket.  Do you have any good tips you'd like to share?

How to reduce how much supermarket plastic you buy


  1. Fantastic tips - thanks very much for sharing them.

  2. Great post! I’m always saddened by the amount of plastic I see at the supermarket.

  3. I have my own fabric bags that i use and i keep vegetables loose - it's the meat packaging I don't seem to be able to get away from


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