4 Ways to Shop Plastic-Free

The trend is gaining pace in Europe; Germany has food stores now where you can shop without plastic – you have to take your own containers to put your purchases in rather than buy pre-packaged foods.

Australia has a handful of shops following the same footsteps, such as Terra Madre, where you can self-dispense what you want into your own packaging or paper bags….and of course we all hope to see plenty more of this happening in the future.

What can you do in the meantime to shop without using single use plastic packaging?

Take your own shopping bags or use a box

Take your own large shopping bags every single time you go out – there are plenty of really great, light-weight designs around. The best shopping bags we’ve come across are the Onya bags – mainly because of the handy carabiner clip which mean you can leave them permanently attached to your handbag (so they are always Onya).

If you have forgotten your own re-usable bags, simply ask for a box – shops usually have heaps of them, even if they are not on display.

Shop at places that allow you to purchase non pre-packaged foods

Consider not only the ability to purchase things that have not been pre-packaged, but also that have had as little packaging as possible on their journey from producer to you. Eg. If the tray of avocados has come in a box with a plastic lining to hold each avocado, that counts as packaging. Usually the least packaged option means buying from a local, small scale producer. Your local Farmers Marketsis a great way to shop without plastic. Food Swaps are springing up all over the place too; people have picked things straight from the garden and brought them down in a re-usable tub. For any of you living in North-East Melbourne, check out our Local Food Connect for comprehensive information on your local producers.

Bring your own gear to weigh and package your food in

There are several options for things you can take with you to put your purchases in.  An excellent starting point is fruit & veg weighing sacks (to replace the thin plastic bags offered at fruit and veg shops).

The Onya Weigh bags are a personal favourite – again, the Carabiner means my pouch of them is always attached to my purse. I use them for fruit and veg and also for any other small items – nuts, anything I weigh out in bulk, and also for carrying a handful of small purchases.

4MyEarth Bread and produce bags are fantastic to hold bakery goods and other things that need air-tight packaging; they are lined with a food grade air-proof lining and can be washed and reused for years.

Waxed food wraps can be used for the same purpose as the Bread and Produce bags – simply wrap your produce in them to keep them fresh and clean on the way home.

As a further step, tell your local shops you won’t buy things that are heavily packaged. Bananas on a polystyrene tray covered in cling-wrap – no way! Believe me, your shops will modify their packaging based on the feedback their customers give them.

Avoid purchasing from the shop by making your own and avoid packaging before you even get it!

Making your own is getting easier and easier with all the awesome products being brought back into fashion.

Make your own icy-poles for the kids with Munch Icy-pole Holders; you’ll always know exactly what is in them.

Make your own carbonated drinks with a Soda Stream; you re-use the bottles over and over with no plastic waste.

Make your own squeeze food pouches for little kids with Little Mashies. If you buy them from the shop, these are a packaging nightmare and can’t even be recycled, but your kids don’t need to miss out with a re-usable pouch.

There’s no limit to what you can make your own – Seed SproutsNut-milkSauerkrautJamDried fruits and vegetables…the list goes on.

And don’t forget – growing your own fruit & veg is the ultimate version of making-your-own, and requires no packaging of any sort – yay ! Need some help? Grab a gardening book by The Little Veggie Patch Co for inspiration! 🙂