To be truly on a mission in reduce single-use plastic, we decided to visit our most visited and most commonly known supermarkets and see which shop is doing the least, to really cut down on plastic packaging.
If you’re thinking about reduce your plastic waste contribution, starting with your weekly shop is a good beginning!
The first step to reduce plastic from our shopping carts, was also the first step for us. We wanted to check how much plastic we buy each week and how much of an impact our shopping made on our oceans. We only shop for the two of us so our weekly shop isn’t huge, most of the plastics come from vegetables, fruits.
It quickly became clear that almost every item we bought, was wrapped in plastic – this included fruit, vegetables, chips, bin liners, cleaning products such as shower gel and oven cleaner.
It is incredibly hard to think of something we use on a daily basis that isn’t somehow connected to plastic.
The more you become conscious of plastic packaging, the more you will notice it in shops, on the streets and probably even local parks.
Like us, you might start to get annoyed with the thought. about 70 years ago, people didn’t have plastic packaging. They used, paper, glass, cardboard and everything was hunky dory.
Not anymore. Plastic is cheap and convenient, and therefore widely produced and used.
How does this scale with our local supermarkets? To give you a bit of an overview, here’s how our task went:
Our first trip was to Lidl… And what a failure of a trip that was.
Everything was wrapped in plastic, even a cucumber, cauliflower and a four-can pack of beans had its own plastic wrapper – why not use paper/cardboard box?!
Although we were so determined to leave the shop without plastic and only picked items that had less or no plastic packaging, we still found ourselves stood at the checkout full of guilt and items wrapped in plastic.
Some plastic was unavoidable – we felt guilty nevertheless, not knowing where all this plastic crap will end up – it’s not a nice feeling. The only plastic-free items included a freshly baked bread, some bananas, veggie sausages and veggie burgers in paper boxes.
We certainly took a valuable lesson from that trip… We refuse to support supermarkets if they’re not taking the steps to support our planet. Lidl is (or was) our most visited local supermarket, do why should we change where we shop?
Shouldn’t the shops be making changes that people demand? We won’t go down without a fight… We ventured to our next (not so super) supermarket.
Next up was Aldi, and it was the same story as Lidl – plastic everywhere. We walked out and went to Sainsbury’s. We were determined to find positive light in this dark situation!
October 2020 – Hey Aldi, it’s been a while, and you’ve changed! And boy it’s been a change for the good! Aldi are now selling a whole eco range and even mesh bags for loose fruit and veg. Although, the options for loose fruit and veg is still sparse and could be much better. We can hope.
For the good news though! They’re now selling recycled paper (toilet and kitchen roll) wrapped in paper! Not plastic! YESSSS YESSS.
Concentrated washing up liquid, eco toilet blocks and eco laundry detergent. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was walking around the aisles and seeing all these eco friendly products. The best part was the fact that they were reasonably priced!
Other eco friendly products can be pricey, and naturally, that can put you off.
We found both to be pretty much the same – little effort on the fruit and veg sections, and most loose fruit and veg would cost 50% – 60% more, than the already packaged apples for example.
Now… We couldn’t believe our eyes. “This is more like it!” we thought. You can actually buy fruit and veg that isn’t suffocating in plastic. Great! We thought.
Every fairytale has an obstacle – and indeed we have found a downfall to Sainsbury’s, because it turns out yes you can buy peppers without packaging, but the cost of 3 packaged peppers is the same as the unpackaged 1 or 2.
So if you’re on a budget, that option is out of the window for most.
It was hard to find mushrooms and berries loose too, so you are limited to what you can buy plastic free, but it is a step in right direction. It’s also hard to buy anything frozen without it being in plastic.
Chips for example made a regular occurrence in our shopping cart, so we thought about changing this habit. We now use potatoes (which are available to buy loose per kg) to make our chips from scratch. We’ve found it a lot more fun (as you can add funky spices to it!) and they’re tastier.
After a semi-successful trip to Sainsbury’s, we wondered if any other supermarkets could match or even surpass Sainsbury’s.
We started hearing things about Morrison’s and how they’re trailing a plastic free veg and fruit section, so we thought we’d check it out. We found it a little better, especially with the little paper bags located around the veg and fruit section encouraging you to pick and store your shopping.
A great selection of loose apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, onions, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, leeks, peppers and more! It’d would have been nice to pick our own mushrooms and cauliflower, but it’s still a step in the right direction, we just need to keep pushing and keep telling supermarkets what we want.
So to summarise…
It’s a big change, just like going vegan or changing your routine or job. Supermarkets may find it difficult to make the change too, but they have the right resources and money to make that change happen and educate their customers and future generations about its importance.
For now, we will be sticking to Morrisons, purely because of the paper fruit bags and the available loose options. The rest of products however are the same as any other shop, plastic bottles, unnecessary plastic wrapped cans and so on, and so on…
We’d say Aldi, Tesco & Asda take the joint last place for the worst supermakerts for plastic-free packaging + lack of options.
Don’t take our word for it, take it step by step, do your own research first – see what local options you have and what you see in your favourite supermarkets.. Make a note of what’s available in your local shops – what’s the best option for you?
Research local eco-friendly shops, support the local businesses and buy in big bulks where possible – this is particularly good for purchasing online and if you’re trying to save money.
It may be hard to go 100% plastic free, but a reduction is always better than ignorance.
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