Sunday, March 27, 2011

Plastic Free Food Shopping

Some examples of my plastic free food shopping.

One of the many benefits of living plastic free is healthier food choices. In general, wholesome natural foods are more often available in plastic free packaging than highly processed foods and buying takeaway isn't really an option (with the exception of pizza). Whether you do your grocery shopping at supermarkets, independent food retailers, farmers markets, healthfood or organic stores, these following tips are easily applied:

Reusable Shopping Bags.

Keep approx 5-10 re-usable bags in the boot of the car (or enough to carry twice your normal shopping in case you have a splurge one week), and a small fold up bag in your handbag so you're never caught out needing a plastic carry bag.  The main discipline here is to waltz the bags straight back out to your car as soon as you've taken the last item out so that you are never in the situation of needing a plastic carry bag.

Produce can be loosely purchased without the need for individual plastic bags.
When selecting fruit and vegetables, place them directly in the basket or shopping trolley.  There is no need to place them in individual plastic bags, and checkout staff don't seem to mind as long as you assist them by placing all items together eg all apples in a cluster, all kiwifruit in the next cluster and so on. If you don't like the idea of loosely placing produce in the trolley, purchasing reusable produce cloth bags is another option.
It's best to wash fruit and vege before eating. If I have time I do it all at once when I return from shopping using a large bowl of water and a vege scrubbing brush - plastic free coconut fibre brushes as well as other household cleaning brushes can be ordered from the Redecker range
If you are based in Melbourne CERES Environmental Park have a Fair Food program where you can order local organic produce boxes which are delivered to "Food Hosts" scattered around the city & suburbs. The food boxes don't contain any plastic (unless you order any special additional shop items), and may offer you convenience if you are very busy and live or work near a Food Host. For more info

Nuts, seeds, oats, grains, legumes, pulses, beans, dried fruits.
Nuts, seeds, oats, grains, legumes, pulses, beans, dried fruits and ready made muesli are regularly available in bulk buy and can be placed in paper bags from healthfood/organic stores, co-ops, and some farmers markets, but this does get a bit trickier to purchase plastic free from a supermarket. I have to travel close to 25 to 30km each way to reach a bulk buy place and I buy enough to last me a month or more so I don't have to travel so often.

Elgaar Organic Yoghurt 500g.
Elgaars yogurts are currently available throughout Tasmania and Victoria and are being distributed nation wide shortly.  They come in different flavours and sizes and are housed in a glass jar with metal lid.  They refund you 40 cents each time you return a jar to participating stores. As some facebook followers have mentioned - it is apparently quite easy to make your own yogurt too.  I'll be giving this a go for sure over the coming weeks!

Eggs, butter, and chocolate for sweetly inclined tastebuds.
Choosing to eat natural butter over highly processed margarine is a great way to avoid plastic containers. Eggs are in cardboard containers and many co-ops & healthfood stores welcome you returning empty ones for re-use. There are so many tin foods - seafood/fish, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, pulses etc. Thankfully most family sized chocloate bars are packaged in cardboard or paper & foil (yay!).

Milk, perserves and drinks are commonly found in plastic free packaging.
Milk is readily available in cartons and if you can see the carton labelled as "PurePak" made by Visy then this can definitely be recycled.  If it is a "Tetrapak", then you need to check if your council does recycle this or not but most do. Some companies such as Elgaars is selling milk the good old fashioned way - in glass bottles.  Jams, honey, mayonnaises, tartare sauces, salsas, pickled/preserved foods such as gherkins, olives etc all have some brands that offer them in glass jars with metal lids and easily found at major supermarkets. There are also options to buy sparkling water, juices, sodas, wine, beer etc in glass, cartons or aluminum cans.

Uncle Tobys Multigrain Oats
Macro Organic Peanut Butter
I have shaken and rattled almost every cereal box in the isles of supermarkets to 'listen' for a plastic free cereal (they do make a different sound!). The only one I have found is Uncle Toby's Oats, and Uncle Toby's Multigrain Oats.
You can use these oats for porridge, or to male your own muesli by adding dried fruit and nuts.
Some bulk buy places sell different varieties of cereal, which is a good option if you fill your empty cereal containers or paper bags with it.

Mmmm. . . crunchy peanut butter! Both crunchy and smooth peanut butter is available in a glass jar and metal lid from the Macro Organic range at Woolworths, and it's only around $4 - great value ;-)


If you would like to know more about the challenge, or have plastic free suggestions for me, you can:
Email me at
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  1. We have only used Easiyo yoghurt here for years as we go through bucketloads of yoghurt and I hated all the little containers; a waste of money and materials.

    My question for you is - how do you get those bags back into your car??? I think mine may be allergic to the car actually ;)

    1. Keeping the reusable bags organised in your car is really helpful. We also stay on the lookout for less packaged fruit and veg - especially for some reason organic bananas which seem to be wrapped for some reason?
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  2. I also use the green bags at the supermarket which are made in China and I use mesh bags to buy our fruit and vegetables. I make and sell envirobags they are made from 100% cotton and roll up small to keep in your handbag they are great when you are caught short by not taking enough bags to the shop or a friend gives you some fresh lemons you will always be prepared here is the link to my site
    I sell them for $6 each + $1 each postage they are also made from 100% solar power as we have 30 solar panels on our pool roof which we put into the grid and now we don't pay an electricity account we receive cheques every 2 months instead which is wonderful. We also use all our own water from tanks and bore as we are not on mains water supply.I also make the mesh bags with plans to sell them if any one is interested in buying mesh bags they can post a comment I must get onto that one soon .
    Kind regards Sherrie from simpleliving :)
    I admire you for what you are doing you have my complete support way to go ! I will keep checking in to see what other products you discover.

  3. Hi A keeper, yes I know what you mean about the green bags a few years ago we used to keep leaving them at home and kept buying more. the secret is put them back in the car as soon as you have emptied them out from your shopping trip. We have 2 cars and we have a cooler bag and a bunch of green bags in each car.
    Sherrie from Simpleliving :)

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  6. I used to have reusable bags when going to shop. This is good to have a plastic free food as well.
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