Plastic-free shopping – how to avoid coming home with a bagful of unnecessary plastic.

When reducing plastic waste is a core goal while out shopping for household needs, there are so many other positive ripple effects. The food is typically more local and fresh – straight from my garden, from a local farmer, market or coop.
The food is also predominantly whole and unprocessed and bought in bulk. I notice that I don’t come home with the spontaneous purchases of snack foods which are all wrapped up in plastic (often happened when I went shopping while I was hungry). My thoughts go instead to the things I can make with the kids when we get home using healthy ingredients.
I am not only reducing waste, but saving money and reducing the amount of processed food we are consuming. The food is so much healthier – for us and the planet. The kids are also really into this project and embracing the shift.  They are super helpful in selecting products and accepting why some things just aren’t in the house anymore.
Today’s shopping at my local coop – plastic free – hooray!!  Bulk organic flour, organic tahini, freshly crushed organic peanut paste, local organic honey, organic buckwheat, organic rolled oats, organic chia, organic nicola potatoes, organic Australian dahl, and toilet paper.

My dinner tonight was salad with tahini, and I’m looking forward to buckwheat and chia porridge with honey for breakfast.

I love taking my own glass jars and buying in bulk – honey, tahini, olive oil, tamari, fresh peanut paste …

Another way I reduce plastic coming into my home is buying loose fruit or veg. I just pop them straight in my shopping basket as is – no need for plastic carry bags. I will wash and peel these spuds before I eat them anyway.

Buy loose vegetables to reduce plastic waste.
My kids love pasta. All pasta at the shops comes in plastic wrapping. The other day, we dusted off the pasta maker and refreshed our memories of how it worked. Young Hugh was chief paster maker and of course therefore loved it (which is great, because he is also chief food critic). On his request, I purchased that big bag of flour today for him to make more and more pasta – experimenting with adding various herbs and vegetables, perhaps even some bamboo charcoal. We plan to dry some too. I’ll post more about our home-made unwrapped pasta-making soon.
My old pasta maker is probably 20 years old and a little rusty on the outside, but it works just fine.
Hugh’s first pasta experiment – organic wholemeal spaghetti and fettuccine. It was absolutely delicious.

In trying to reduce plastic, I also notice that many of the personal items and cleaning products I buy are now in refillable bottles and unwrapped.

In the local food coop, there’s a whole range of household cleaners and personal items available in bulk – dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid, body lotions, conditioners, shampoos and body wash…  I simply take my containers in and refill.

This hand-made soap is made by Self Managed Soap, a South-East Queensland co-operative. They are a community based group who have social justice and environmental ethics. Their soap is made from pure vegetable oils with no added chemicals. Actually, the cold-pressed virgin coconut oil is extracted by the coconut farmers themselves which means the oil is fresher and of higher quality, and more profits stay in the local community.  The world coconut oil trade has been controlled by trans-national corporations, buying copra cheaply from tropical producers and sending it to Europe or Asia for processing.  

I love this soap – unpackaged, palm oil free and really affordable – and just $1.50 a bar. They have a great range of natural scents – my favourites are the peppermint and cinnamon scrub.
I’m sorry Mum, I know you would say “That’s a bit rude!” about the name of this loo paper, but I am a real fan. It is a long roll of very nice 3 ply, 100% recycled paper with no dyes, inks or scents. The wrapping is made of thin paper which can go down our compost toilet, or popped into the worm farm. An added appeal for me is that half of their profits go to Wateraid. I buy it at my local coop for $1.50 a roll which is comparable to other high quality papers. It’s even cheaper if I order it by the box online.
Paper wrapped 100% recycled loo paper that’s nice on your bottom.
I sometimes get caught out and don’t have enough cloth bags so I grab a box from the shops instead.  The boxes always find another few good uses – for mulching, for craft projects my children are doing, or for workshops I run. I dislike the poly reusable bags. they don’t last that long, then become rubbish too. I think it’s better to buy or make strong cotton bags instead that go back into the soil when they can no longer be repaired.


4 Responses

  1. Meg Hopeful
    Meg Hopeful at |

    We have been using that "cheeky" toilet paper for many months now. I order it in bulk online, it's delivered free (with not a shred of plastic in sight) and works out at $1 per roll with 50% of that going to Water Aid. I shred the paper that each roll is wrapped in for our worm farm and the toilet rolls get cut up and go into the compost.

    I have also recently found milk in glass bottles. It's only stocked at a little local bakery only a 10min drive from here. Greatly reducing the plastic milk bottles at our place!

    I think both are really great products and I like to be able to support businesses like these who clearly have an ethical and environmental conscience.

  2. oneme
    oneme at |

    Hi! really like this post! Just wondering…if you make sure your cloth you use for re-usable bags or clothing,etc. is real cotton? A lot of cloth now is made or mixed w/recycled plastic!!! Just a note! Sandy

  3. Therese Bizabishaka
    Therese Bizabishaka at |

    In our local area a new health food shop opened up similar to the one features. They are a no plastic bag shop and sell cleaning products/honey/local olive oil in reusable glass jars. You should give making your own soap a go. It's not that hard. You just have to wait a while for it to cure. A great way to utilise herbs from your garden and make great gifts. The best reusable shopping bag I've ever bought was from office works. It's made from some sort of heavy duty jute and is so strong I think it'll last forever. Unfortunately they no longer sell them. If one finds it necessary to use a bag when purchasing loose fruit and vegetables you can sew a reusable one out of some sort of mesh or sheer curtain material with a drawstring. It wouldn't add anything to the overall weight and could be washed and used over and over again.

  4. Mary Ann Cauthn
    Mary Ann Cauthn at |

    Wow- I wish I lived in an area with access to this kind of shopping!! Chain grocery stores full of plastic & few organic products are pretty much is available here. Some small farms where one can buy into a share are beginning here, so maybe there is hop!! Loved your photos. I live in state of Georgia in USA. Thanks for sharing. Mary Ann