Week 3 or so and we are still going strong. Local milk is now being delivered in bottles to the back door (joy!) and we have discovered the Whole Foods Market. This is a chain of supermarkets where you can buy food loose or in bulk using your own containers or the shop’s paper bags and refill bottles etc. I absolutely love that shop – it’s sort of like a posh indoor organic farmers market. There are 9 of them in the UK, mostly in London but it is a very well known chain in America. At the moment I am mainly concentrating on food, household items and cosmetics. We still have lots of things in our cupboards that we haven’t had to replace yet and I am busy researching alternatives (toothbrushes, moisturisers, razor blades… a seemingly endless list of items). What I have learned so far into this experiment is: A) there are LOTS of things we have to do without because there are no non-plastic alternatives to my knowledge; B) we have to make lots of things ourselves from scratch to avoid plastic packaging; C) avoiding plastic packaging naturally results in eating seasonal & healthy food, reduced food miles, eating less processed foods, and it dramatically reduces waste and encourages re-using or recycling. Our proudest moment was when it dawned on us that we hadn’t taken the kitchen bin out for 2 weeks because there was only a tiny amount in it. And we haven’t bothered putting our bi-weekly recycling box out for collection either because it is also strangely empty.
On the 1st of May 2016, we begun the journey of avoiding all food and household items that have plastic packaging of any kind. In at the deep end. Went to the farmers market, a natural food supermarket, health food shop, deli, farm shop and an ordinary supermarket to see what I could get. I went prepared with my cloth bags, of course, and a number of small paper bags just in case. Managed to buy just over half of the items on my shopping list. The fishmonger at the market and the woman at the deli shop obligingly used my paper bags to wrap my items in. A few things I bought had cardboard on the outside but then turned out to be lined in plastic or wrapped in plastic foil (coffee beans, biscuits, tea bags, oatcakes, corn crackers). Very interesting exercise.
It must be difficult for shops to sell stuff in small quantities and keep it fresh – hence all the plastic/foil packaging. Also found out that the only butcher in Stroud has closed its doors! Next stop: wholesalers for bulk shopping and online shops to see what they have to offer. In the meantime I signed on to a local milk delivery service which has turned out to be a real joy and we love our milk man and the stylish classic glass bottles. I highly recommend this as a first step for anyone. Also made a batch of mayo, humus and taramasalata. Laughable how easy this is provided you have a food processor and can be bothered.