Sustainable supermarket swaps
I don’t know how you are managing your food shopping in lockdown, but we are sticking to one trip a week to cut down on contact with others, for everyone’s benefit. It got me thinking, if more of us are limiting our shopping to just this weekly trip, what are the sustainable choices we can make in our supermarkets which are easy to implement?
And it’s not just for lockdown, not everyone has the time to source each ‘green’ alternative from a different place. Just trying to do our best with what we have to hand can make a big difference.
7 supermarket swap ideas
1) Buy loose produce
I’m not sure this one will be for everyone at the moment, and I get that, but I am still buying as much as I can in loose form. I figure that most of needs peeling or cooking anyway. I don’t normally bother putting it in bags (although there are lots of great reusable produce bags out there), just chuck it loose into the trolley and it gets put through at the till.
Hopefully, the more people that switch away from pre-packed the more will be available. But if you’re not comfortable doing it now then just make a note to switch when we are through this.
2) Frozen fish and veg
Food waste is one of the biggest issues we face in terms of living more sustainably. Every year we throw away about a third of what we produce globally. That’s the equivalent of over a billion tonnes of carbon. So buying frozen where it makes sense can really help cut down.
In terms of texture, frozen veg may need a bit of trial and error, but frozen kale and spinach is great to add to sauces, soups and stews and peas are obviously a winner. Given how much it wilts when cooked, frozen spinach will save SO many plastic bags! And did you know that the frozen veg tends to be more nutrient dense as it is processed and frozen soon after being picked?
Same goes for berries which I often find get mouldy too quickly for me to finish them. The frozen stuff is great for desserts and home-made smoothies.
Fish can also be a winner as most of the ‘fresh’ fish has been frozen along the way anyway. That means it is probably less ‘fresh’ than the frozen stuff as it’s had to be de-frosted before hitting the shelves. Plus, the frozen options tend to be cheaper – it’s a win-win. If you haven’t checked out what’s available in the frozen aisle give it a whirl! I buy sustainably sourced yellowfin tuna and Icelandic cod loin frozen. As well as raw peeled prawns.
3) Ditch the spreadable
I buy blocks of butter. Although the wrapper can’t normally be recycled, it’s not plastic which is at least one tick. And I keep all of it out of the fridge all the time so no need for spreadable. Butter does not need to be stored in the fridge as long as it is salted due to its high fat content.
4) Clipper tea bags
Did you know that most tea bags contain plastic? That means they should NOT be composted and won’t entirely break down. After some research, I switched to Clipper tea bags which are plastic free and unbleached so they can go in your food waste. Most of their teas are organic and they are all fair trade. The only downside with the packaging is the foil inner bag but they are planning to replace this with fully biodegradable wrap as soon as possible.
The other option is loose tea but this is all about simple swaps!
5) Go back to powder
Ditch plastic-packed liquid for washing powder. It may seem old school put it works perfectly well. Ecover’s version is cruelty-free with plant-based ingredients that are biodegradable. And they don’t put a plastic scoop in each one! If you need a scoop you can order one directly.
6) Eco-cleaning products
In addition to switching to powder, if you want to buy your cleaning products all in one place at the supermarket then switch to the eco brands. They might be a bit more expensive but that’s because they are not doing nearly as much harm to the environment throughout the entire process.
For example, Ecover is not only focused on the harm what they put in their products does to our waterways, they have a clean sourcing commitment, are committed to getting to a zero-carbon zero-waste manufacturing process (and are already way ahead of conventional suppliers), are trying to reduce their water usage and design all their packaging with recyclability in mind.
I have also used Method products which are naturally derived and biodegradable. The packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic and they are cruelty free.
7) Bar soap
My final sustainable supermarket swap is switching to bar soap for body and hand washing to save on plastic. You’ll need to check what your supermarket has in store and whether the packaging is recyclable though. Waitrose and Tesco, for example, sell soap from The Little Soap Company. It is organic and free from detergents, SLS, alcohol, parabens, sorbates, silicones, sulphates and preservatives. It’s also Cruelty Free and comes in a recyclable cardboard box.
Those are just a few ways you can make some sustainable supermarket swaps. Making changes is a process and there are always going to be ups and downs. So don’t worry about changing everything right now. And if you’re out of washing up liquid and all that’s on the shelves is the regular stuff then just buy it, we can’t all be perfect all of the time!