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(the realities of) Plastic Free Shopping

For sometime now quite a few of our Tidy Towns members and a few others within the community have been attempting to do their weekly shop without buying any single use plastics.

Having done our research, spent some time on facebook groups, speaking to people in other communities, friends and family around the country and with huge determination to succeed we set out to do 2 weekly grocery shops and buy absolutely no plastic. There were to be no half measures. We had to do the same shop, and shop in the same local towns close to us.

After the first 2 weeks we met up to exchange stories and a few common threads emerged

Somethings were easier than we thought. When I went into the butchers with my container and asked him to put my meat in here instead of using plastics bags he immediately obliged, and mentioned it wasn't the first such request he had received.

It was possible to buy loose fruit and veg, although its generally more expensive and there is less choice. Apples, Bananas, Oranges, etc were all possible to buy. "Fancier" veg like Sugar snap peas, green beans etc were only available in plastic packaging.

Cleaning products were not as big a problem as we had imagined. Washing powder can be bought in cardboard containers. Softener was more difficult, the "Eco" version is still in plastic although technically recyclable but not locally and was much more expensive.

Instead of buying spray cleaners we pooled our ideas and reused the containers with had to make our own! There are lots of recipes online which are pretty easy to follow and not too expensive or difficult to make.

In general the consensus was that shopping without plastic is difficult and a little disheartening. So much of what we wanted to buy was covered in plastic. Tomatos, salad leaves, meat in supermarkets, almost ALL cheese, frozen foods, dog treats (my personal bugbear) and so much more were covered in horrible single used plastic.

The reality is that although in some towns and cities there are non plastic food alternatives springing up, places where you can refill cleaning products and buy loose packaged foodstuff, these are not within easy distance of our village and the petrol it would take to get us there and back would possibly negate the value of the trip

However we all agreed that it was a really worthwhile exercise and the more we shopped with intent the more determined we all are to continue to use as little plastic as possible. We regularly contact each other via text and most of the group have almost given up buying cleaning products and are making our own and reusing old spray containers. Across the group we tried to calculate what % less plastic we are buying and have calculated it across the group at at an approximate 35% reduction, which we think definitely counts as a positive result.!

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