Looking to cut down on waste when shopping for food and groceries? Check out the TalkPlastic directory of plastic-free alternatives.
If you want even more inspiration, take a look at our ‘Plastic-free Shopping’ Pinterest board here.
The plastic lids on disposable coffee cups are used for about 15 minutes then thrown away. How wasteful is that?
- Melbourne-based KeepCup produces a range of reusable coffee cups that are totally awesome. There is enough plastic in 20 disposable cups to make one KeepCup. Click here to find your local KeepCup stockist.
- Buy a stainless steel drinking straw – they are very easily found online. We recommend you check out Biome Eco Stores here in Australia.
LIQUIDS (oil, vinegar, tamari, tahini, honey, etc)
Some bulk buy stores sell liquid goods. Take along your own container and refill.
MILK, YOGHURT, CREAM
Remember when milk was delivered in glass bottles which were then collected, washed and reused?
- Elgaar is a dairy in Tasmania that sells milk, yoghurt and cream in glass jars. A deposit scheme means you get money refunded if you return the bottle. Click here to find your nearest stockist – only available in VIC, NSW or TAS, Australia. Unfortunately Elgaar is currently out of production, but is hoping to return. Keep checking their website for updates.
- Sunnydale also sells milk in glass bottles and will refund deposits if bottles are returned for reuse. Available in WA, Australia.
NUTS, BEANS, FLOUR, DRY GOODS
There are plenty of bulk goods stores that sell a huge range of nuts. Fill as much as you need into a paper bag, weigh it, and pay for the amount you have bought.
- Bulk goods stores include Aunt Maggie’s (VIC only), The Source (Australia-wide), and CERES (Brunswick, Melbourne). For more bulk food store directories, visit The Sustainable Table or this Facebook link by Quirky Cooking.
- Coles and Woolworths supermarkets are also starting to roll out bulk food bins in their stores. They often provide plastic bags for this. The solution is to use a paper bag from the mushroom section instead!
Vegetable, canola and many other cooking oils tend to be sold in plastic bottles.
Large supermarkets usually sell 4 litre tin canisters of oil. Buying in bulk will also save you money. Buy a nice oil dispenser or simply reuse a glass olive oil bottle, refilling as you need from the larger canister. When the canister is empty, turn it into an interesting plant pot. No waste!
Some bulk buy stores will sell cooking oil. Take along your own container and refill.
Homemade pasta tastes amazing – give it a go!
- Barilla pasta is sold in cardboard boxes – most have a small plastic window but there are a couple of styles that are plastic free. Available in Coles and most major food stores.
You can buy Basmati rice in bulk in fabric sacks at many major supermarkets. Often a better selection of fabric-packaged rice can be found in international/Asian supermarkets. Sometimes these come with a plastic lining – it’s not perfect, but it is less plastic waste overall than buying small amounts at a time in plastic bags.
- Bulk buy stores often sell a range of rice to take home in your own packaging.
- We spotted a lovely risotto rice in The Essential Ingredient.
The larger supermarkets usually sell salt in plastic bags. But dig a little deeper – such as at independent grocers or international supermarkets – and you’ll find some great brands.
- SoSalt sea salt has a range of salts sold in cardboard boxes.
- Mermaid brand table salt is Australian made and comes in a gorgeous box, too!
Reusable tupperware, brown paper, or waxed cloth can wrap your sandwiches. Anything but cling wrap or throwaway bags!
- Onya sells reusable sandwich wrap, made from recycled plastic bottles. If you’re buying online, ask them to package the goods in a paper envelope.
So many places around the world have banned the plastic bag – and for good reason. Plastic bags take around 400 years to biodegrade, plus they clog waterways and kill marine wildlife. If the average Danish citizen can use just FOUR plastic bags a year, why can’t we all cut out this environmental nasty too?
- Take a reusable shopping bag with you – preferably one made from a natural fabric like hemp or organic cotton.
- Struggle to remember a shopping bag every time? Bagito sells shopping bags on a keyring that are made from 100% recycled plastic diverted from landfill. All net proceeds from sales fund an environmental literacy campaign.
If you’re looking for something to carry loose fruit and veg in, try reusing the mesh bags that onions are sold in. Our favourite trick is to use the paper mushroom bags available at most supermarkets – it is totally OK to do it! Or take your own paper bags and reuse them.
Why buy water when you can get it from a tap? Often, bottled water is just filtered tap water anyway. There are also health concerns with chemicals leaching from plastic bottles into drinking water.
- Stop wasting precious resources and invest in a reusable bottle. There are many aluminium and stainless steel versions on the market. Two of our favourite brands are EarthLust and Cheeki, which is based in Australia and also makes coffee cups.
- Elgaar organic yoghurt, made on a farm in Tasmania, is sold in glass bottles. Click here for your local Elgaar stockist. Elgaar is currently out of production, but is hoping to return. Keep checking their website for updates.