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How to shop for groceries without using plastic

Grocery without Plastics

Originally appeared on SBS Food

State by state, Australia is beginning to implement legislation to ban single-use plastic bags, however, single-use plastic packaging is still ubiquitous on our supermarket shelves.

Supermarkets have been leading legislation by example, with Woolworths New Zealand pledging in the group’s 2018 sustainability report to transition to 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in its own-brand products by 2025 or earlier. But the job isn’t done yet.

Plastic-free July is a great time to test your ability to cut plastic use and make good habits for the year ahead and here are a few ways you can make an impact during your weekly grocery shop:

Fresh produce

Bring your own produce bags

There are a wealth of companies selling reusable produce bags online, some of them are even stocked in the utility aisle of supermarkets. There are ultra-lightweight versions if you’re worried about ripping yourself off, and organic cotton mesh for those with a view to reducing pesticides. For those with an affinity for crafting, you can also easily make your own.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to use single-use grocery bags as bin liners, there are also ways to get around that by diverting wet scraps to compost and ditching the liner altogether.

Buying loose items usually costs less if you check the per-kilo price, and gives you the freedom to choose how much you need

Choose greengrocers or produce markets

The smaller scale and limited stock of a local greengrocer or produce market means fruit and veg are usually fresher (bought from the local wholesale market each day) and requires less strategy to keep in good condition e.g. less packaging.

Fresh Fruits Shop
Fresh produce sold at markets usually foregoes excessive plastic used for freshness.

Because you’ll also just be shopping for fresh stuff, there’s less need to separate fruit and veggies from hard items you’d also buy in a supermarket, so putting them straight into a basket then into your shopping bag at the checkout doesn’t require a produce bag for protection.

This brings us to the next point…

Don’t use them

Just put your green goodies straight into that supermarket basket or trolley. Make sure delicate stuff stays on top and try to choose naturally protected items, like a head of cauliflower with lots of leaves on it.

Replace bagged salad and spinach leaves for whole heads of lettuce, or bunches of English spinach and look for fresh herbs without plastic wrapping (easily found at markets, fruit and veg shops and international grocers with fresh sections, or you could try growing some at home).

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