featuring Country Farm Meats, Great Barton, Suffolk.
One of the key challenges to Zero Waste shopping has been avoiding plastic packaging. It's universal. However, the last 12 months has seen a personal effort focused on reducing landfill content, where plastic once comprised 30% of my household's waste and significant progress has been made.
The use of resealable containers and a return to a practice before the widespread application of disposable plastic packaging has proved to be the answer for reducing waste when purchasing loose produce of all kinds. The range includes meat, fish, cheese, fruit, vegetables, coffee beans, chocolates, home cosmetics and toiletries as well as take-away meals. There are exceptions for cooking and baking ingredients which are always plastic packaged.
The majority of the items are sold in local shops or specialised retailers with supermarkets having the widest potential for accepting container use, although there can be an awkwardness in dealing with staff there due to corporate practices and health and safety standards.
Superstores should realise that reusable packaging is good for the environment. If taken to a natural conclusion, there would be no packaging waste at all. A truly sustainable system of trading would be achieved, making Landfill and the more recent Incineration activity irrelevant or minimal.
Some leading superstores have proven to be co-operative in packaging fish/meat/dairy produce in reusable containers presented by the customer. Sainsbury's has proved best with Morrison's and Asda slightly more complicated.
While some products are easier to manage than others, the aim should be to increase the range of items, with food commodities top of the list. Unpackaged, a London shop-based business, provides access to the likes of desiccated coconut, dried fruit, rice and many other items. This could be the basis for countrywide trading. A link with other businesses, including superstores, would be one way to achieve that.
I would ask superstores to think "reusable" for their stores. They have non-customer type packages which are reusable, why not apply that throughout the business. After all they often sell food storage containers in the store, so why not encourage customers to buy them and reuse them for their shopping?
Lakeland also offers a wide range of portable food storage containers as well as the more ubiquitous Tupperware. Why not check them out at www.lakeland.co.uk, www.tupperware.co.uk or the international site www.tupperware.com. If you prefer to avoid plastic storage systems, airtight stainless steel containers are also available from Canadian company www.lifewithoutplastic.com.