Tackling Grocery Shopping Plastic Free: Getting prepared!
Does the idea of Grocery shopping plastic free seem unrealistic? Daunting?
Yes, there are challenges AND yes there are just some things you can’t avoid buying in plastic (yet). What matters is that we are all making changes, even small ones that are adding up to reduce our waste. So don’t be discouraged if your shopping trolley has plastic in it, there will be days- we are only human.
The key to overcoming these challenges is getting educated AND organised. Here we explain how you can be prepared and introduce you to a few shopping options you might not be aware of.
Firstly; You need BAGS and plenty of them. You need your reusable shopping bags/boomerang bags which by now everyone should have a pretty decent stash. Then you need produce bags, I picked up a box of 5 for $15 from our local farmgate but they’re readily available at health food stores and other eco conscious stores. Mesh ones are great for fruit, veg and bakery stuff (rolls and bread fit perfectly) while solid canvas ones are perfect for flours/grains and bits and pieces you pick up from your local bulk store. It's good to get a variety. I’m sure you can get them cheaper online too. They are super lightweight, so don’t worry about them adding unwanted weight to your fresh produce. Keep these in your favourite Boomerang Bag in your handbag (don’t know about yours, but my handbag always houses at least 2 of my favourite Boomerang bags for those unplanned shops).
No doubt, you have one of those drawers full of Tupperware and/ or pyrex containers – now is the time to get them ready to leave the house with you. It’s a good idea to keep a small box of them either by the door or in the car, clean and ready to hit the shops with you to collect your fresh goodies. I have separate clip seal containers for the butchers. Don’t be put off taking these to the butchers or Delis- trust me you won’t be the first to do it and you won’t be the last. Most retailers these days should be happy to fill your containers, and if they're not, maybe it's best to find one that is!
FARM GATES & FARMERS MARKETS
Next, find out where your local farm gates are and when farmers markets are on in your area. You will find amazingly fresh produce, so much fresher than you find in the supermarket and more often than not, the produce won’t be pre-packaged in plastic like at the supermarket. Plus, most will be local produce = less food miles! There are a tonne of local farm gates on The Mornington Peninsula, we are pretty blessed but also lots all around the country.
A couple of local ones are:
Benton Rise Farm; 150 Coolart Rd, Tuerong visit here
Torello Farm; 410 White Hill Road, Dromana visit here
Peninsula Fresh Organics; 6 Henderson Road, Baxter visit here
Hawkes Vegetable and Farmgate; 661 Boneo Road, Boneo visit here
Mossy Willow Farm; 547 Main Creek Road, Main Ridge Farmgate open Saturday am visit here
Mornington Market Day; Wednesdays, 9am – 12pm, Main St Mornington; lots of local producers and easy to go waste free.
For Victoria Wide Farmer's Markets head to the Victoria Farmers Market Association website here to search for farmers markets near you OR Australia Wide, the Australian Farmers Market Association has a great market directory here.
BULK WHOLE FOOD SHOPS
Look up where your closest bulk whole foods shop is. They're probably closer than you realise. You will find all your pantry staples there from rice and pasta, flours, nuts and grains to dried fruits and spices. Take your jars and produce bags, the staff will weigh them, add your goodies and they'll be weighed again. Too easy! If you're not sure where your local is, check out the links below;
Thrive Wholefoods; 1/154 Main St, Mornington
The Source Bulk Foods; Found all over the country, jump on their website here to find one near you.
Sustainable table, a fabulous organisation, has a great Bulk Food Directory here to find somewhere close to you along with ethical shopping guides, explanations of farming systems and a whole array of other interesting reads. There is another through Local Harvest here showing bulk buy and local produce stores Australia wide.
LOCAL CO-OPS & COLLECTIVES
Local Co-ops and collectives are another brilliant way to buy in bulk from local suppliers; some orders go in monthly, others quarterly - just need to check how your local co-op works. Co-ops are a great way to access excellent quality bulk foods; dry pantry items as well as fruit and veg. They have a tonne of benefits including; building relationships in communities, consumers accessing fresher, local produce at a cheaper price and producers benefit from cutting out the middle man and taking more of the hard earned profit. There is also less need for excess packaging and of course lower food miles. These co-ops are really making a huge difference to communities, going back to basics and bringing quality produce (ditching the processed crap) back into everyone’s homes.
Spoilt again here on the Peninsula; we have The Prom Coast Collective, providing incredible produce (pictured above) from the Gippsland region direct from the farmers (learn more here), The Mornington Peninsula and Bayside Bulk Food Co-op (learn more here).
ARMED & READY….
Before you go shopping make a list so you know exactly what you need. Then, think about how you can achieve that list plastic free. Is it possible? If not, can you make changes? Can you substitute it for something else? Can you make it from scratch? I actually find we eat so much better as we have greatly reduced pre-packaged and processed foods – eating more real whole foods.
So remember, every little change we can make to shopping plastic free is huge. Together we’ve got this!
We all have the power to BE THE CHANGE!
Sarah & Tammy