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Plastic Free - Food shopping and food storage

This July Pete and I are taking up the challenge once again to reduce and analyse our single use plastic consumption with Plastic Free July.  Throughout July I am going to share with you our progress, and lots of tips and ideas, so I hope you will join in too.

Three reasons to avoid single use plastic:
  1. All plastic is made from non-renewable fossil fuels: Plastic is made from oil, and increasingly, natural gas.  Its not so bad to use these resources for long-lasting useful applications, but when we are just pumping out plastic junk, its literally a waste.
  2. Plastic does not degrade: All plastic ever made is still in existence. Apart from newer truly biodegradable plastics, most plastics just break into tiny particles over time, but they never decompose like natural materials do.
  3. Plastic is toxic, because plastics (and many ingredients in plastic) are man-made, our bodies do not recognise them, and they can disrupt normal biological processes.

Resuable containers and drink bottles instead of single use plastic
If you analyse your plastic waste and find a lot of throwaway containers and bottles, plastic wrap and freezer bags, then you should consider some resuable options.  Pete and I have got into the habit of putting food in the reusable containers rather than covering with wrap or putting it in a bag.  We have lots of containers, so there is never an excuse.  We also got some nice glass containers for our lunches.  At work the other day someone was looking for plastic wrap to cover some leftovers and I suggested that they put a bowl over the plate, they were amazed at my creativity, but that's the kind of thing we do all the time at home.  You can also make resuable wraps from fabric and beeswax.

I usually fill a drink bottle of water to take in the car whenever we leave home, so we never have to buy a drink in a bottle.  At work I always use a real cup, even when disposable cups are available.  If you are a coffee drinker, consider taking your own cup instead of getting a takeaway cup that you just have to throw "away".

To get you started with Plastic Free July, Biome has kindly agreed to provide a Goodbyn Lunch box and a Lunchskin sandwich wrap and snack wrap as a giveaway, as well as a 15% discount on their lunchbox range.  To claim the discount, just enter FLLBC15 "Voucher Code Box" all through July 2014.  More about the giveaway below...

Buying in bulk and making your own to reduce packing waste
Most of our plastic waste last year was food packaging.  Buying in bulk is one way to reduce the amount of packaging.  Selecting carefully at the supermarket and trying to find options with no or less plastic is another strategy.  By far the best option is making your own as you need it.  We are lucky to avoid milk bottles, bread bags, vege packaging and various others, by making and growing our own.  Last year I even made muesli bars!  One thing that does not reduce plastic is butchering our own meat, as we wrap it all in bags before freezing, but if you buy meat you can take your own container to the butcher and ask to use that instead of bags.  A tip from NZ Ecochick - you can also buy cheese from a deli and take your own reusable container.

a trip to the farmers market with my reusable bag collection
- including Fregie Sacks
Bring your own reusable bags
We have got so good at taking our own shopping bags to the supermarket that I occasionally accept a plastic bag just so we have some at home for the occasional time that you need one!  Our secret is to put them by the door, a few in my bag and some in each car, that way, you can at least put the majority of shopping in reusable bags.  So get yourself lots of bags, put them in a sensible place and remember them!  Also, tip from Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm - if you forget them in the supermarket, but they are in your car, you can always load everything in your trolley and pack your groceries in the bags when you get back to your car, you won't forget again after that ordeal!  As well as the standard heavy duty big bags, I also have some light Fregie Sacks to use for fruit and veges.  Finally, if you're stuck for a bag, you can make one from square piece of fabric.

How do you reduce plastic when you're shopping or storing food?


  1. I take my own shopping bags but the best thing I have found is I have two light shopping bags which fold very small. I keep these in my handbag so they are always with me. I use them many times a week. I just make sure I fold them and put them back in my handbag after use. It would have saved hundreds of plastic shopping bags over the years.

  2. Any left over plastic bags from the supermarket or the really thin bags from the fruit and vegetable section can be used wrapped around food in the fridge, if you are not using cling wrap/ have run out of containers. Needless to say, we have very few of these bags anyway, but a few seem to find their way home somehow.
    Coles will recycle these bags anyway for you, there is a drop off point outside many of their supermarkets.
    I take my own non plastic water bottle for cold water and a thermal mug for hot drink in winter. We mostly use green/fabric bags for shopping, and leave them by the front door or on the passenger seat of the car. As mentioned earlier, a thin fold up bag is in my handbag all the time too.

  3. I have a shopping bag in my handbag, and shopping bags in the car. I take my own water bottle with me, and also my coffee cup for when I'm out and about. I use containers to store just about everything. I have a roll of clingwrap in the cupboard that I bought over 20 years ago, and I honestly can't remember the last time it was used.

  4. I keep the green reusable shopping bags in the boot of the car so I always have them with me, and always have our own drink bottles for water which we re-fill every day. One thing I am bad for is using the cling wrap for lunches. One of those biome lunch boxes would be great for reducing that. I will also stop using the plastic bags for fruit and veg at the shops. I can imagine carrots and apples falling about everywhere, but we'll see how we go.

  5. Hi Liz, i'm doing the challenge again too and we're off to a terrible start! I brought plastic home threedays running. A lead rope for the goats was even plastic wrapped! And i had an altercation with the deli lady when i wanted mybbacon in paper. Scuse mistakes. Not my tablet and i can't work it well.

  6. I take fabric bags that I made when we go shopping so when I need a plastic bag for rubbish I have to ask the neighbours

  7. It's definitely a tricky one... but we reduce it by using containers where we can at home instead of plastic bags to store food.
    We also use fabric shopping bags for grocery shopping. As well as using the Coles/ Woolworths plastic recycling incentive and recycling any plastic bags or packaging with them - which has reduced our waste significantly!

  8. I don't remember the last time I took a plastic bag from a supermarket. We either take our own bags or just carry our items separately. The people at the local supermarket now know not to even offer me a bag which is great as they are taking notice. I just wish they would ask other if they 'need' a bag rather than if they 'want' a bag.
    Shopping at the local farmers market is a great way to not need bags. Our fruit growers sell all of their fruit for the same price per kilo so I just fill one big reusable bag with all of their different seasonal fruit.
    Good luck with the challenge.

  9. Green bags for the groceries. Fruit and veg go loose into the small part of the trolley. I'll be making my produce bags from an unused laundry bag this week as I need something for loose spinach leaves.

    I used a wet bag to pick up my indian curry the other night as it always leaks.

    I always bring a small empty reusable drink bottle in my bag in case I forget my big reusable bottle of water.

  10. Great comments everyone! Looks like you're all really committed to plastic free habits.


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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at

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