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Plastic Free July - Supermarket Produce

Going to a regular supermarket after a zero waste shop was a shock – so much more aware of all the unnecessary plastic packaging! I needed some fresh food so went to my local Morrisons, who I’ve heard had the best range of loose produce, armed with my own produce bags and containers. Not a bad plastic free haul!

I was concerned about heading to the fresh counters with my own containers. I was fully ready to argue that plastic packaging was unnecessary, there was no health issues using my own containers, that I wasn’t trying to scam them out of cheese… I was ready to fight and revel in the glory of saving the planet one plastic bag at a time. But actually, they didn’t even bat an eyelash. Completely normal, no questions asked. (All that pep talk for nothing!)

The fresh produce section was a little more challenging. Due to the fact I went in the evening, a lot of loose produce had already run out, leaving only a few poor unloved carrots behind. Eventually, the only thing I couldn’t find or substitute (that I needed) was loose lettuce and salad. After talking to a store manager, it turns out they don’t stock loose lettuce and salad, as it is more economic and environmentally friendly to keep it in packaging and make it last longer than ending up with heaps of wilted veg. It is a trick of balancing up whether you want the food to last longer in its packaging, thereby avoiding food waste, or avoiding plastic packaging and dealing with the environmental issues related to wasted food production and its global transport.

For example, when it's out of season, it is better for the environment to buy and fully consume a cucumber in plastic packaging than transporting an unpackaged cucumber (possibly damaging it) and then it going off quicker and going to waste. I guess the solution would be to only buy produce when it’s in season, grown locally and from a farmers market. Maybe that will be my next challenge?