Did you catch me on Countryfile?! We featured on Countryfile to present The Beeswax Wrap Co.’s top tips for making small changes to reduce your single-use plastic when food shopping.
If you missed it, we offered three levels of advice, ranging from easy to ‘expert’ (which isn’t actually that hard!):
Level One: Simple Swaps at the Supermarket
Our easiest tips and tricks for a plastic-free supermarket shop. These tips might be teaching you to suck eggs but it is amazing how our lives become routine and we forget to challenge our everyday habits. There are some really simple swaps you can make when you are in the supermarket aisle, here are a few:
Swap Plastic Bottles for Glass Bottles
Specifically, tomato sauce bottles! And yes, it may be a pain to get the last bit of sauce out! But just go old-school and stand it upside down, or (as my mum used to do), put a few drops of vinegar in the bottle and give it a shake to get the last drops out. Since we swapped back to glass bottles we’ve actually found we don’t get through as much. Though I think this is mainly down to the out-of-control squeezing that happens with the plastic bottles (especially by small people!).
Choose Unpackaged Fruit and Veg
This can reduce your options but larger supermarkets are already making changes. We take our own cloth bags to put the fruit and veg in. Or, if it’s an ad-hoc supermarket run, we are those annoying people with loose fruit rolling all over the conveyor belt, oh well!
We wholeheartedly recommend trying your local greengrocers as an alternative too. If you have time at the weekend, pop to your local fruit and veg shop. It can be difficult to factor this into your weekend (especially if you have kids) but it can be quite enjoyable. It’s worth giving a go, and you get a nice feel good factor from supporting local businesses. Try it, you might like it!
Crack out your Tupperware
Or an old ice cream tub, or a bowl from the cupboard (covered in a beeswax wrap of course)… Something which you can take to the meat counter at your supermarket or local butchers.
Don’t be put off by the slightly strange looks you might get from popping four sausages into an ice cream tub! It may be a little weird at first, but most places are happy to oblige and it saves a tonne of plastic.
You can also do the same at a cheese counter, or at the deli. We usually use our beeswax wraps at the cheese counter, they’ll just pop it into the wrap and you can seal in all the flavour and freshness right away.
Level Two: Swap to Online Shopping!
By this we don’t mean your usual weekly supermarket shop, just online. We mean buying plastic-free groceries that you’d usually buy plastic-wrapped in supermarkets, online and plastic-free.
Whether it’s fresh milk, veg delivery boxes or store cupboard essentials, there are many ways you can buy groceries online and be plastic-free.
Here are just a few of our suggestions.
Do you remember when everyone had milk in glass bottles delivered to their doorstep every morning? We do!
We are very lucky and live near Stroud Micro Dairy, and each week we take our glass bottles to fill up with fresh milk. There are a few micro dairies across the UK, but for most it will be easier to get a milkman to deliver to your door.
A pint of milk from Milk and More, an online milk delivery service, is 81p. This is probably about 20p more expensive from a plastic equivalent at the supermarket, but if you can afford it then we really do recommend it.
Store Cupboard Essentials
It is really, really hard to get pasta, rice, cereals, nuts, coffee and pulses not packaged in plastic from the supermarket. This is where online shops like Plastic Free Pantry come in. We do a monthly shop and everything is delivered in paper bags which we then re-use if we go to our local refill store or the supermarket. The selection on offer is fab and it is really lovely to support a new business.
There are also lots of refill shops popping up across the UK. We’ve made a handy Zero Waste Shop Map to help you find your local refill store near to you.
These can come from so many places! Check out your local area to see if a farm or independent grocery store offer a service first. Supporting local businesses is important, and it means your food is travelling a lot less to reach you.
If you can’t find anything local, try Farmdrop or Riverfood, who deliver plastic-free veg boxes up and down the country.
Level Three: Make It Yourself!
At first glance this definitely seems the hardest, but we promise it’s not that difficult (especially if you like baking!). These are a few of our plastic-free food and snack suggestions which you can make at home.
Biscuits are delicious but they all come wrapped in plastic, doh! To get round this we just bake our own. It’s pretty quick and they genuinely taste better. We usually make biscuits from very old Good Housekeeping recipe books, or Dan Lepard’s book, Short and Sweet. It has loads of easy sweet and savoury recipes.
A trickier one. It’s possible to make your own crisps, but near impossible to make your own pickled onion Monster Munch or crunchy Quavers!
We do have to compromise sometimes. A good way to buy crisps but with less plastic packaging is to go for the larger bags rather than the multi-packs. If you then want to put crisps in your kids’ lunch boxes, make a pouch out of one of our beeswax wraps and pop some crisps in.
You can also try to roast chickpeas. Granted, they’ll never be crisps. But they are crunchy, salty, full and flavour and goodness…
How much will going plastic-free cost?
You may have read all this and thought, ‘That’s all well and good but my food bill is going to skyrocket.‘ Ah ha! No it won’t, we have spent less on food since we have cut out our single-use plastics.
This is because we no longer have to buy the amount the supermarket decides we need in our pre packaged veg, fruit, grains and meat. We only buy what we need. The amount of food we throw away is tiny compared to when we bought it all wrapped in plastic. Using our beeswax wraps has also helped hugely.
Fruit and veg is wrapped in plastic to help ‘keep it fresh’. But plastic isn’t breathable and makes this fresh food sweat. If you wrap fresh food in a beeswax or vegan wax wrap, it will be able to breath and stay fresh and crunchy for sooo much longer.
The main thing to remember about cutting down on your plastic is that it doesn’t have to be done in a day or a week. Take one swap at a time, be happy that you have made it then move onto the next. You will be amazed at how easy it is and how enjoyable it becomes! You can do it!