It can sometimes feel like throwaway plastic is everywhere and cutting it out can seem daunting. Ultimately we need action from companies and governments to stem this tide of plastic waste, but here’s are a few tips on what you can personally do to cut plastic waste during your weekly food shop
Cut down on plastic carrier bags - bring your own!
Since supermarkets starting charging for bags in 2016 we’ve seen a massive 85% drop in the number of plastic bags being used in England - and we’re already seeing the results. The number of plastic bags picked up on British beaches last year was down by half.
All you have to do is remember to take your bags along to your weekly shop, and if you’re the forgetful type checkout foldaway carrier bags which easily fit into your normal day bag.
Stop buying bottled water
Tap water in the UK is just as good for you as the stuff you get charged for and it’s FREE! So unless there’s some kind of contamination crisis, cut out the plastic water bottles and keep a refillable bottle handy to use when you’re on the move. If you are hooked on fizzy water consider getting a soda maker and making it at home.
Switch back to getting your milk delivered in reusable glass bottles
Reduce, reuse, recycle… the old mantra reminds us that reusing bottles is far more green than recycling them (and obvs greener than using them once then chucking them!). Home milk deliveries – when you get glass bottles delivered to your doorstep then picked up and refilled - are still going in many parts of the country – check this site to see if your area is covered: http://www.findmeamilkman.net
Choose cardboard and paper over plastic containers, bottles and bags
Choose cardboard or paper rather than plastic when you can. So pick pasta in a box instead of pasta in a bag, or detergent in a box instead of bottle (do check the cardboard box is made from either recycled or forest stewardship council (FSC) accredited pulp). And those small bags you use for fruit and veg? Think whether you actually need one for what you’re buying, or can it go straight into the basket then shopping bag instead? Or even bring your own reusable produce bags.
Search out refill stations
If you have a local health food shop, or community shop, check if they offer refill stations for basics like rice and cereals. If so you can take along your own containers and buy only the amount you need, so no packaging waste AND less food waste! At the same stores you can often find refill stations for kitchen products like washing up liquid and clothes washing liquid. You can find stores that stock products for you to buy in bulk here: http://zerowastehome.com/app/
Leave excessive packaging at the store or send it back
Shrink wrapped bananas, veg on a polystyrene bed, covered in a plastic shell, wrapped in polythene… You can find many outrageously over-packaged goods in stores. If this bugs you then you can take a former Minister’s advice and send a message at the checkout by removing excessive packaging and leaving it for the store to deal with!