Plastic Free July: Up Your Supermarket Game

Alrighty, so we are now 1 week into Plastic Free July and what a ride it has already been! Our entire Upcycle Studio team has welcomed this challenge with open arms! I personally decided to focus on my groceries this week in an attempt to shop a bit smarter. Here’s a recap of how I took my supermarket game up a notch and tried my best to avoid single use plastic. “Tried” is the operative word here…

Choose Your Supermarket Wisely

Does anyone out there also hate the thought of grocery shopping? Trolley Wars in the fruit and veg section have never been enjoyable for me. And there’s just something about overly fluorescent aisles that make me want to avoid supermarkets like the plague. That was until I discovered my new favourite place to grocery shop. Harris Farm Markets in Drummoyne has changed my entire supermarket experience. It’s my new go-to for most of my produce because they make it incredibly easy to go plastic-free. Plus it evokes a romantic, European-style vibe like the famous Eataly chain of supermarkets. Any place with a dedicated charcuterie and cheese section wins my heart instantly!

My whole point about choosing your supermarket wisely is to make your Plastic Free July shopping feel like less of a chore. When a grocer is set up to make it easier for you to make eco-friendly choices, it’s not such an overwhelming task anymore. Not only does Harris Farm sell a variety of items that are plastic-free, they also have stacks of cardboard boxes at the checkout in order to minimise the use of plastic bags. (You’d be surprised at how many local, independent supermarkets will let you take a box home with you, all you have to do is ask!)

Grab a box instead of a plastic bag! The box wall at the counters of Harris Farm, Drummoyne.

Opt For Loose Fruit And Vegetables

A lot of our fruit and vegetables come wrapped in plastic these days and it’s a huge cause for concern. So you can imagine how impressed I was to see so many loose produce items during my shop the other day, even some loose strawberries! A great way to carry items like this home is by taking some small cardboard containers with you to the shops. (Think of things like old cracker boxes or even your iPhone box – seems silly but it does the trick!)

Loose strawberries on the shelves

No More Plastic Produce Bags!

Instead of packing your larger fruit and veg items into plastic, consider grabbing some reusable produce bags instead. These are great while you’re shopping but also a fantastic way to store your food in the fridge. The holes in the mesh make the bags breathable which is great for keeping things fresh. Harris Farm even has these in store for customers to use. You simply grab a green bag, fill up your fruit and then take it to the counter. They’ll keep the bag but will pop your purchases in your own shopping bag or a box. Brilliant!

Reusable produce bags that you can borrow while you shop
Reusable produce bags that you can borrow while you shop

Glass Jar Goodness

Wherever possible, it’s great to buy grocery items in glass jars. Not only does this avoid single-use plastic, but you then have a great storage container when you’re done with all the yummy food! These come in really handy for storing things like rice and grains or for anybody who wants to have a go at pickling – a great Plastic Free July project! Next time you need some deli items like olives or sundried tomatoes, try and have a look on the shelves for a glass option instead.

Say no to plastic packaging for your deli food

The Modern Day Milkman

Remember back in the day, when the local milkman would come to your house with glass bottles of milk? With the amount of plastic-bottled milk on our shelves these days, it’s hard to even think that our milk used to only ever come in glass bottles! That’s why it’s fantastic to see that Harris Farm has started rolling out self-serve milk stations in some of their stores. It works like a gas bottle swap’n’go system, where you take your old empty bottle into the shop and then grab a new bottle of fresh local milk!

The new refillable milk station in some Harris Farm stores
The new refillable milk station in some Harris Farm stores

The Result

And voila! Here is the result of my first attempt at a plastic free shop. It’s been of a rocky start to Plastic Free July – I have to admit that I did buy some things that were wrapped in plastic (2 packs of meat, 2 packs of cold cuts and 2 blocks of cheese. My baguette also came in a brown paper bag that had a plastic window too.) Although I’m still a while away from achieving a 100% plastic-free shop, it felt really great to be more conscious of the items in my trolley while roaming through the aisles. I used a cardboard box, my bulk food bags and my 24/7 bags to carry all of my things home, not a single plastic bag in sight! Stay tuned for some more updates on how the Upcycle Studio team is going with the rest of Plastic Free July!

My first attempt at a plastic free shop, hoorah!
Always carrying a reusable shopping bag makes it easy to refuse plastic bags at the checkout!
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