Everywhere you look in UK supermarkets we are surrounded by plastic. I challenge you to try do a typical weekly shop and go plastic free. It’s incredibly difficult. Plastic wrapped fruit and vegetables (of course more expensive if bought “loose”), carbonated drinks exploding in price if bought in cans or a lack of refill stations.
Here are 10 alternatives to plastic packaging:
- Banning plastic egg containers and using only cardboard egg cartons. Why do we need to have eggs in plastic when they do the same thing in cardboard?
- Email receipts only on request. How many of us get a receipt for a couple items? Receipts are recyclable but can be BPA coated and has a similar effect on the body that oestrogen does. Read more about the effects of BPA here.
- Paper bags for fruit and carrier bags. So simple yet such an issue. Why did we ever ditch the good old paper bag? Morrison’s (UK supermarket) got rid of the plastic fruit bag last summer.
- Refill stations. How great would it be to take a mason jar into a supermarket to fill with dry food such as oats, pasta and rice? This could be adopted for cosmetic items such as shampoos and conditioner.
- Plastic free aisles. Give consumers help in finding plastic free goods easily. “Free from” and international aisles are standard in small and large supermarkets. Why can’t we have a plastic free aisle too?
- Unwrapped fruit and vegetables. Does a loose cucumber taste any different to a plastic wrapped one? Buy loose and put in a container at home once cut in to.
- No more plastic wrapped cans. Even when you do make the choice to pick aluminium cans over plastic bottles, how many times does this also come wrapped in plastic too? The beer manufactures manage to easily pack their cans in cardboard boxes and Monster Energy do too. Large supermarkets could easily apply pressure to brands to improve their multi-pack packaging. This can also extend to canned pet food.
- Bars of soap in cardboard packaging only. Don’t think I need to extend this one any further.
- Bring back glass bottled milk. The critic may say to this that the traditional foil milk bottle cap may not hold up on a large scale transportation, but the milk man still manages. There has to be a way or could we look at developing a 100% recyclable aluminium seal. As a consumer we can also make the choice to back to to a weekly delivery service and pull that profit from the supermarket. It means a fairer prices for farmers too.
- Offer more compostable items. Items such as cotton buds are a plague to the environment, it would be great if supermarkets offered more products like bamboo cotton buds we could all make small changes at no more effort.
From talking to people around me I’ve found the biggest issues to going plastic free are the effort, lack of knowledge and increased pricing. These three factors supermarkets could all aid with. I’ve seen signs around products with small paragraphs about why you should buy this product. Why can’t we have a pack of 200 bamboo cotton buds and a sign alongside it saying:
“If you buy 10 boxes of bamboo cotton buds this year instead of plastic you alone can 100% reduce the risk of 2,000 plastic cotton buds entering our oceans.
Your choices make all the difference.”
We see images on cigarette packets in the UK trying to put people off buying them, why is our environment not in our face for all to be forced to see?
What would be your suggestions be for plastic free alternatives to the big supermarket bosses if you had half an hour to offer new packaging ideas? What would be your One Change Now to supermarkets?