If I classed myself as self sufficient; we would starve! Well pumpkin, two eggs and power while the suns shines might be luxury for Bear Grylls, but it does not cover everything for my family. So I am still required to negotiate those shopping aisles.
I prepare myself with my trusty greenie bags to carry everything, my newly sewed produce bags for the fruit and veg, bread bag for bread (of course), empty glass jars for nuts and muesli and a couple of containers for meat and cheese. Oh and the shopping list!
Sounds like an arsenal but it was one bag with everything inside. This is where the old biscuit and lolly tins come in handy as they are much lighter than the glass containers with the plastic lids; I have both.
Now my first big plastic free shop was after a few pop ins; You know to top up veg, buy milk and loaf of bread on the way home from work, that sort of thing. So I had been thinking about my plastic free options. But word to the wise; give yourself plenty of time for your first big show and put your thinking cap on.
I started with fresh produce; this was no problem, I had my produce bags and I filled them with what I needed. Ironically the organic options were wrapped in plastic and some even included a lovely plastic tray. If you are looking for organic you can find these at local markets and here in Cairns I have discovered plant foods http://www.plantfoodscairns.org/ where you can order online and pick up once a week. All grown locally, organic, freshly picked and delicious!
Coles have all the spinach bagged, but Woolworth still have the loose option, so you can put it into a paper mushroom bag or your produce bags and into an air tight container when you get home. These are still packed in a larger bag, so growing my own will be my best option, if I want spinach. (I am sure any plantings will be sabotaged by my son, just like the eggplant my 'vegetarian' daughter poisoned)
Meat can only be purchased from the butcher because supermarkets meats (excluding deli items) are pre packaged in plastic.
The supermarkets stock Barilla pasta which comes in a cardboard box. unfortunately some have superfluous plastic windows, I buy the fettuccine and collezione which are completely plastic free. San Remo have a wonderful brown rice gluten free that actually taste great that is in a box BUT the pasta is wrapped in plastic inside. You can also buy pasta and rice from the 'The Source Bulk Foods' Lake Street and 'Community Foods' Shield Street.
You would think anything in a glass jar or a tin should be fine (completely recyclable and no plastic) well sorry, not that easy. Most tins are lined with plastic! I kid you not, they put this stuff on everything, even the plastic stickers on the fruit. The tins are still recyclable but look for the BPA free ones for health reasons.
At this point you might be thinking 'plastic is recyclable too', so milk bottles, yogurt containers etc. won't become waste. Yes, you should recycle these if you do purchases them, but plastic is actually downcycled, meaning; more energy, oil and chemicals are added to created a completely different form of plastic. Where glass, steel, paper and aluminium can be turn back into the exact same product over and over again, with less resources, energy and CO2 then new products.
Back to the aisles. Grab some tomato paste, plenty of choice there. Mayo, another plastic wall, but there are a couple of choices here; I grabbed Tommy, tasted great. Stock comes in the cardboard cartoons, watch for plastic pourer. I got the 'Massel' cubes, Australian, wrappers break down in compose, good flavour.
Toilet paper!! Always forgotten. SAFE have a long roll recycled paper in paper packaging, BUT it is lined with plastic. There are single rolls wrapped in paper that are a virgin tree product. Holy crap and pure planet can be ordered online and delivered to your door. Holy crap is made from recycled paper and donate a portion of sales, pure planet is tree free and made from cane and bamboo excess.
AWARE laundry powder is in a recycled cardboard box with not even a plastic scoop inside, they were on sale and I grabbed four.
Chips, lollies and biscuits; sorry all in plastic. The Source have soya chips, nuts, treats (healthy and not) that you can fill up on. Make sure you sign up for a loyalty card and earn some money back. I try to buy my son's continued participation with proof that he can still have treats, at this point he thinks no plastic means; MORE Kale and taking weird salad's for lunch with a tiny fork. He wants "normal food".
So normal food; buns from bakery, ham and salami from the deli, hash browns from the deli or Birds Eye cardboard box in freezer, lined with plastic, Patties party pies and some baked treats from bakery or cookie man you can pop into you produce bags; I even got some hot cross buns fresh out of the oven at Coles put into my bread bag.
I brought the Bulla ice creams in a box, on a stick in paper wrapping BUT.... as I was pulling out the usual rubbish from my sons pocket (after it had been through the wash, this boys!) I noticed the paper ice cream wrap had broken drown and left behind a plastic lining hidden inside, arghhhh I had been putting those in the compost all week.
Milk. I really wish we had a glass bottle option for milk :( but alas there is cartons, 600ml and 1 litre in the cold section. There is options for almond, soya and dairy in long life too. Cream you have cartons, plastic lined but recyclable, butter wrapped in paper, compost, yogurt......... you can go to the special yogurt stores with your jars and make a mad dash home (done it!) but it is a bit expensive so I turned to youtube and learnt how to make my own. Really easy, but takes awhile. I will share that experience another time.
Now for cheese. Feta can go into a jar and just cover with water when you get home, to stop it drying out; this does not make it last for ever, maybe a week. Woolworths have large blocks of cheddar that they will cut a section off for you; you really have to say NO BAG straight up. Now slab is covered in plastic and they then wrap the remaining cheese you don't purchase in copious amounts of cling wrap. Which left me wondering if I had done any good at all with that purchase. I think not so, I am going to try and make my own.
At the end of my shop I don't really have that much in my trolly. I had the urge to go back and get more :( but I have filled my list and I head home. Of course the snacks don't last long; but they NEVER do! Everything else got us through the week without too much nostalgia; well my husband is hanging for a SAO and my son thinks I'm crazy :)
It seems we have to give up or work a little harder to make our own replacements, but this is strangely empowering. I think it is because I have to think outside the easy plastic box and the challenge, together with the occasional accomplishment, seems to set me free.
Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. Indeed, That's all who ever have. (Margaret Mead)