Plastic Free Food Shopping

March 27th, 2011 | Posted by Gina in FOOD SHOPPING | PLASTIC FREE TIPS
One of the many benefits of living plastic free is healthier food choices. In general, wholesome natural foods are more often available in plastic free packaging than highly processed foods and buying takeaway isn’t really an option (with the exception of pizza). Whether you do your grocery shopping at supermarkets, independent food retailers, farmers markets, healthfood or organic stores, these following tips are easily applied:

Keep approx 5-10 re-usable bags in the boot of the car (or enough to carry twice your normal shopping in case you have a splurge one week), and a small fold up bag in your handbag so you’re never caught out needing a plastic carry bag. The main discipline here is to waltz the bags straight back out to your car as soon as you’ve taken the last item out so that you are never in the situation of needing a plastic carry bag.

Produce can be loosely purchased without the need for individual plastic bags.
When selecting fruit and vegetables, place them directly in the basket or shopping trolley. There is no need to place them in individual plastic bags, and checkout staff don’t seem to mind as long as you assist them by placing all items together eg all apples in a cluster, all kiwifruit in the next cluster and so on. If you don’t like the idea of loosely placing produce in the trolley, purchasing reusable produce cloth bags is another option.
It’s best to wash fruit and vege before eating. If I have time I do it all at once when I return from shopping using a large bowl of water and a vege scrubbing brush – plastic free coconut fibre brushes as well as other household cleaning brushes can be ordered from the Redecker range
If you are based in Melbourne CERES Environmental Park have a Fair Food program where you can order local organic produce boxes which are delivered to “Food Hosts” scattered around the city & suburbs. The food boxes don’t contain any plastic (unless you order any special additional shop items), and may offer you convenience if you are very busy and live or work near a Food Host. For more info

Nuts, seeds, oats, grains, legumes, pulses, beans, dried fruits and ready made muesli are regularly available in bulk buy and can be placed in paper bags from healthfood/organic stores, co-ops, and some farmers markets, but this does get a bit trickier to purchase plastic free from a supermarket. I have to travel close to 25 to 30km each way to reach a bulk buy place and I buy enough to last me a month or more so I don’t have to travel so often.

Elgaars yogurts are currently available throughout Tasmania and Victoria and are being distributed nation wide shortly. They come in different flavours and sizes and are housed in a glass jar with metal lid. They refund you 40 cents each time you return a jar to participating stores. As some facebook followers have mentioned – it is apparently quite easy to make your own yogurt too. I’ll be giving this a go for sure over the coming weeks!

Choosing to eat natural butter over highly processed margarine is a great way to avoid plastic containers. Eggs are in cardboard containers and many co-ops & healthfood stores welcome you returning empty ones for re-use. There are so many tin foods – seafood/fish, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, pulses etc. Thankfully most family sized chocloate bars are packaged in cardboard or paper & foil (yay!).

Milk is readily available in cartons and if you can see the carton labelled as “PurePak” made by Visy then this can definitely be recycled. If it is a “Tetrapak”, then you need to check if your council does recycle this or not but most do. Some companies such as Elgaars is selling milk the good old fashioned way – in glass bottles. Jams, honey, mayonnaises, tartare sauces, salsas, pickled/preserved foods such as gherkins, olives etc all have some brands that offer them in glass jars with metal lids and easily found at major supermarkets. There are also options to buy sparkling water, juices, sodas, wine, beer etc in glass, cartons or aluminum cans.

I have shaken and rattled almost every cereal box in the isles of supermarkets to ‘listen’ for a plastic free cereal (they do make a different sound!). The only one I have found is Uncle Toby’s Oats, and Uncle Toby’s Multigrain Oats.
You can use these oats for porridge, or to male your own muesli by adding dried fruit and nuts.
Some bulk buy places sell different varieties of cereal, which is a good option if you fill your empty cereal containers or paper bags with it.

Mmmm. . . crunchy peanut butter! Both crunchy and smooth peanut butter is available in a glass jar and metal lid from the Macro Organic range at Woolworths, and it’s only around $4 – great value. 😉

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses

  • Karen Hopkins says:

    Wow heard you on channel 7 this morning I love this idea goes back to my mums day of preserving fruits and veg in glass jars for later use and certainly is a head challenge at the supermarket . Great work keep up the good work keep people informed of your descoverys . You will get to go on your trip 2012 is the year of of mircles “.It only takes but one person to lift a bird back into its nest “. (Dr James Martin Peebles ) You can change the world one person at a time .

    Thank you

    Love Peace and Harmony

  • Marian Sheahan says:

    Hi I saw your segment on Channel 7 this morning, I had not heard of your “project” before but it made me stop and think of how much I use plastic. I live in a small country town so it will present challenges but I am going to try and eliminate as much as possible. I look forward to reading all of the information I can and as Karen says…one person at a time can change the world. Focus on your dream and it will happen. Love and light 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Pingback: peanut brittle recipe

  • Leigh Gleeson says:

    Yay! A woman after my own heart, thanks for doing all te legwork and letting us know about your strategies. I am re-motivated to reduce before reusing and recycling.We live in such a positive time where people are getting on board and really changing their ways; good to be a part of something that creates change and helps our world.. Will stay in touch on fb..

  • Jodi says:

    I love what you are doing mate, and I have looked into the realities of living a plastic free life for a while now… the problem for me is- do I look simply at no plastic, or do I look at an even bigger picture, and choose ecologically sustainable (is there truly such a thing when you think about it?) products, and products that are made and owned in/by Australia, and also minimise the impact on the world as a whole.. for example, uncle tobys comes in a cardboard box, but are associated with nestle, which not only is not Australian, but also uses palm oil. Canned foods also have a small plastic liner in them, including all softdrink cans and baked beans etc, so we have removed those items from our household as well. It all becomes very daunting, and I admire how you have gone so far!! Thankyou for sharing your experiences. I know many people who are trying to do the same thing, and are finding it quite difficult, so thankyou, and good luck!!!

  • Jenny says:

    You may be dismayed to know that tins cans are often lined with plastic! BPA ( Bisphenol A ) is a epoxy-resin lining used inside tin cans to form a barrier between the metal and the food and prevent bacterial contamination. If the mission is plastic free, I guess you’ll want to know, if you don’t already… I think what you’re doing is great all the same and I am now more consciencious. Thanks.