One of the things that I am really passionate about is waste – specifically packaging. For many years I have worked hard to reduce what I bring into the house and while I am nowhere near the nirvana that is ‘Zero Waste’, I generally do a pretty good job.
Today we went shopping for various things. One thing I bought was some sliced salami. Whenever I buy deli meat from the supermarket or meat from the butcher I always take my own plastic container and ask them to put the meat directly into the container and to stick the price label onto the lid. Most of the staff are really good and simply weigh the container before adding the produce.
However, sometimes it can be challenging and you have to constantly watch what is happening or otherwise you can be easily blind-sided. We have had instances where my request was followed and then they wrapped the whole container in miles of cling wrap or put the meat in a plastic bag before putting it in the container – AARGH!! Today the young girl clearly had no idea how to establish the tare weight of the container so she spread a plastic bag on the scales, placed the salami on it and then tipped it into the container I had provided. I chose not to say anything as it only causes distress to all concerned.
Also, there was not enough sliced salami in the display so she got more from the coldroom and sliced it. The piece she retrieved was wrapped in clingfilm and this was removed, discarded and a new piece re-applied when she had finished slicing it. The display trays are covered with cling film also.
So, by taking my own container and refusing plastic bags and outer wrapping, can I regard this as zero waste?
Buying dry goods from bulk bins creates the same dilemma because although you buy them loose from the bulk bin they have been decanted from some sort of packaging. At least it is usually a large quantity such as 25kg of flour or sugar so there there is less packaging per kilo.
I still buy my cheese from both the supermarket or the local factory where I can get 2kg blocks but they are still wrapped in plastic.
When I buy fruit and vegetables I always make the choice to buy loose produce that I can put in my own tulle bags that I made even if it is more expensive than the pre-packaged option. A good alternative is a Farmers’ Market, though you do have to check as some stalls do package things into plastic bags. It is a matter of being committed and voting with your feet as to where and how you shop.
Yandina Markets photo
The only true zero waste shopping is what I can collect from my own garden – eggs, avocadoes, citrus fruit, spring onions and parsley was the haul for today.