Sunday, 22 July 2018

When supermarkets need a pat on the back

I have previously blogged about the negative impact supermarkets have on the environment - from excess packaging to selling out of season imported produce and a lot more besides, I am the first to admit I am not a lover of supermarkets.  But I am also a realist. I use supermarkets and I also know that they are not going to go away in the foreseeable future and so when this image popped up on Facebook I was really pleased.  As far as I am aware Morrisons are the first supermarket to actively encourage customers to bring their own containers when buying meat from the butcher counter.  Brilliant news.

Green supermarket initiative
Image from The Rubbish Diet Facebook Page

When I added a comment saying how great this was someone else commented saying that we should not be applauding Morrisons as they (and other supermarkets) are the cause of the problem.  Yes, they are a cause of many environmental problems which is exactly why they need to start to do something about it - and this is a great green step.  They may have their own business agenda behind the move but the fact is, once a scheme like this becomes mainstream it has a much greater chance of succeeding.  Look how that one episode of Blue Planet 2 brought the issue of plastic pollution into the public domain and it probably did more to raise awareness of the problem in one episode than thousands of hours of environmental campaigning from green groups could ever achieve.  Supermarkets have the same power to reach a huge audience.

Eva Katona from Captain Bobcat Blog also commenting on my own Facebook page with this comment:

I’m with you Rosie. Most people shops in supermarkets and most of them - unfortunately - don’t think about plastic wrapping or ethical sourcing and prices etc. Some people sadly have to be forced to make a change. If supermarkets join in to make a change which is in everyone’s favour on long term, everyone wins.
Also, the plastic free movement IS consumer led. It is actually a huge success story because it is working: Morrison’s is following the demand in this case. Which is fantastic I think!
Which leads me to ask, is the plastic free movement consumer led?  Looking at what people buy here in French supermarkets I could easily doubt that and it is rare to see a shopping cart without a mountain of plastic inside.  BUT, is this because they are unaware/don't care or is it because alternatives are not available?  The plastic I bring home is because I cannot buy an alternative but am I in the majority or the minority by trying to avoid plastic?

In an ideal world we would all shop locally buying local produce in plastic free packaging. But that world does not exist and in the meantime we need to get the main problem creators on board and offering viable green alternatives.

So should Morrisons be applauded for promoting a scheme to bring your own containers to the meat counter?  What do you think?


  1. I think this is a great initiative by Morrison’s. The consumer has been given a choice and it’s on them to make the right one. Surely even one step in the right direction is better than nothing? I wonder whether there are any stats around how many plastic bags are produced/used in England now in comparison to before the carrier bag charge was brought in. I’d be interested to see how much of a difference that has made.

    1. This article indicates that there has been a 30% drop in plastic bags found in the seabed near the UK and the number of single-use plastic bags given out by major retailers has dropped by 85% – down from 140 to 25 bags for the average person each year.

    2. That is so interesting. Goes to show what a difference the shops and supermarkets can make. Have added your blog to my bloglovin account. I’ve been making ecobricks with the kids and I’m appalled at how much disposable plastic we use! Definitely going to be checking out your tips and advice.

  2. Your point about the supermarkets reaching a wider audience is interesting. They certainly have a mass of people walking through their doors. All being greeted with the sign encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers. Some will. Some will dismiss it, but all have a chance to think about it. Hopefully slowly normalising the idea and changing attitudes. #GoingGreen

  3. Very interesting, Rosie. I've touched on this in my blog post about greenwashing. I like to think that the supermarkets and other businesses are just navigating their own journey towards producing less waste and working out what works best. I think any efforts should be applauded, as long as those efforts don't just stop there and they continue to make progress towards reducing their impact on the environment. #GoingGreen

  4. A few supermarkets in our area are starting to take steps to eliminate disposable plastic bags. It is always refreshing to find corporates that are willing to take steps to help the environment.

  5. I think it's easy for those of us who are aware of environmental impact and have been working to change it for 5 - 10 - 15 - 20 - 30 - 50 years to look down on the 'lesser' efforts of new converts or businesses. But in reality, we should be applauding any and all efforts to make a difference, however small, however 'on the bandwagon' they may be. Because hopefully, in the long run, that will lead to bigger change, more authentic change, and eventually an impact on what we all believe in anyway. So yes, it's a tiny effort, but well done Morrisons. Now let's see more, please.