Simple Supermarket Swaps – plastic free shopping that’s easy.

Before I had any real inkling about what it means to start a blog (and to be honest I’m still figuring it out) I wrote a page about how to make some simple changes to reduce plastic when food shopping. I have chosen to re-write this as a blog post now with far less content, in a bid to make it a little easier to digest. I may have been a bit type happy when I first started!

Hopefully you will find each of the swaps to be exactly as advertised….simple, from the supermarket and with just a few short notes against each. If your looking for a bit more juicy insight into why we should be swapping out these pesky plastics, simply click on the links in each title, which will direct you to where I have created much smaller and simplified posts with the information I have gathered. Be forewarned – there are some mighty shocking stats in there!

So without further ado….swap away!

Oh and don’t forget those reusable bags!

Fruit and Veg


The swap: Plastic wrapped for naked

  • Aside from any pre-prepared foods (a necessity for some) most whole fruit and veg has its very own packaging, as gifted by mother nature, so ditch the plastic whenever you can!
  • If you really need a bag – take brown paper bags or pinch the paper mushroom bags that most stores provide.
  • Plastic packagaing = bargain buy?
    • First ask yourself if you really need the 20 carrots that come in the value pack, or if you will ever use that sneaky little green pepper in the multi-pack – food waste is another big issue.
    • If it really is a bargain and you don’t want to pay more for loose (why should you?) you could always attempt to ditch any unneccessary plastic packagaing at the checkout. Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw recently urged customers to do just this, but you might have to be brave to try! This article spells out some of the problems you might face in the process, from reading it, it seems to depend on how much you can take the glaring eyes of those waiting behind you!

The Food Cupboard


The Swap: Plastic bags and bottles for tins, cardboard and jars

  • For anything you buy in a plastic bag or bottle, ask yourself, “is it possible to buy this in alternative packaging?” Think rice and pasta, beans and pulses, table sauces and spreads.
  • When buying tins, make sure to avoid multi-packs encased in plastic wrap. Many come in a cardboard case instead and you can bet that on most days the individual own brand value tins are cheaper than any multi-pack.

Fish and Meat


The swap: Plastic aisles for the deli-counter or frozen aisle

  • The plastic trays that most meats come in on the aisles might be recyclable, but it’s a lot of plastic for a single-use item and the film is never recyclable.
  • Ask if you can use your own Tupperware – the butcher can simply pop your meats in there – zero waste.
  • Lots of breaded meat and fish options can be found in the frozen aisle in cardboard boxes so opt for these instead!

If you must buy plastic packaged meats (sometimes they’re a bargain) really, really, really aim to avoid the black plastic trays – They only ever make it to landfill.



The Swap: Plastic wrapped for fresh

  • If possible, try the bakery section of the supermarket to see if you can find freshly baked bread that is free of plastic.
  • If you want a bag, try using paper or cotton bags.

Takeaway Meals


The swap: Switch Plastic Trays for Oven Baked

The best option here is to try to avoid them altogether – make your own if you have the time and simply pop them in the freezer! Of course this is the ideal scenario and not always realistic, so if you must buy a takeaway:

  • See if you can find a frozen cardboard option.
  • Op for oven baked takeaways. These are usually packaged in aluminium rather than plastic, with the exception of the film of course.
  • Avoid, avoid, avoid the black plastic trays – usually advertised as the upmarket options but the black trays will never make it to recycling as they can’t be picked out against the black conveyor belts.

The biscuit Barrel


The Swap: Scrap the wrapped!

Individually wrapped biscuit wrappers are a single-use plastic nightmare. They’re not recycled and often seen littering the environment.

  • Avoid individually wrapped biscuits if possible and avoid biscuits arranged in a plastic tray.
  • If you are buying individually wrapped biscuits (I’m thinking lunchbox favourites) try and find biscuits wrapped in foil and paper instead of plastic.
  • This one breaks the rules a little bit, but why no get creative and make your own. You can get all the ingredients you need a the supermarket and it’s fun, easy and way cheaper too! You may still come across some plastic for sugar, but it is far less than the amount in a pack of biscuits. This is great recipe that we use a lot in our house, enjoy!

Sweet Treats


The Swap: Opt for foil, cardboard or good ol’ pick ‘n’ mix!

  • This just a fantastic opportunity to go old school and raid the pick ‘n’ mix for all your faves whilst feeling extra good about the fact that you are also helping the environment. Need I say anymore? (actually, yes – stick to the paper bags and not the cups!).
  • There are plenty of pre-packaged chocolate and sweet treats that are packaged in cardboard, foil or paper, so choose to buy these instead.

Soft Drinks


The Swap: Plastic bottles for tap, tins and glass

  • If its water you are buying – switch it for tap water and a refillable bottle. We have fantastic tap water and it is so, so much cheaper too!
  • If its soft drinks – see if you can buy them in a can or a glass bottle instead. Cans can be a great way of reducing the amount of sugary drinks you have and you don’t run the risk of them going flat in the fridge.

hand and body wash


The Swap: Liquid soaps for bar soap

  • Solid bar soaps are available in cardboard packaging so you can remove all of those single use plastic bottles from the house.
  • Bar soaps are often cheaper than liquid soaps and they last way longer too!

Washing Powder

washing detergent

The Swap: Liquid detergents for laundry powder

  • This one is really simple – swap the liquid bottles for cardboard powders. That’s it!

Always ask yourself – is there a plastic free or plastic less alternative?

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