The Full English Accompaniment – Zero-waste is still too eco-warrior

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Life has been pretty hectic over the last few weeks, preventing much blog reading or writing. At the same time we’ve been trying to make changes to our household usage to decrease the amount of plastic we buy, particularly in our general grocery shop. Our veg and meat already comes either unpackaged or wrapped in waxed paper. We’re switching from plastic packets to jars (for re-use) and tins. What do we do about plastic around our pasta, rice or shampoo?

Zero-waste and packaging-free appears to be 2019’s social trend. Small independent shops are being set-up all over the UK, although the trend towards affluent areas is fairly obvious (1, 2). These shops are targeting the on-trend early-adopters. There’s plenty of blogs with advice, and the mainstream media are cottoning on too (3, 4). There’s a concerted post-Blue Planet 2 movement that societal attitudes towards single-use items has to change. Single-use was the 2018 ‘Word of the Year’ according to Collins (5). The EU has ratified a ban on single-use plastics to come into force (provisionally) in two years time (6). Surfers against Sewage is running a Mass Unwrap event in March where people are encouraged to discard excess packaging at the tills (7).

In our efforts to go further we ventured into a few local packaging-free/ zero-waste type shops to try their wares. We weren’t there long. The organic fruit and veg, the storage jars dispensing dried goods and the shampoo bars were all there. The food was cheap, even if the cosmetics were a bit eye-watering. It was the added extras. The plastic tubs the food had been delivered in, which hadn’t been put away yet. The yak wool fleeces knitted by Mongolian orphans (think of the carbon offset for that mileage). The crocheted face cloths at £5 each. The artisan felting. The slight fug of unwashed vegan. It’s all very lovely but I don’t want to be guilt-tripped into buying an unnecessary item. I just want 500g of plain flour put in my jar. Aldi and Lidl hit my shopping requirements on the head. I can get in, pick up, purchase and get out at maximum speed without spending time trying to choose between brands. They’re convenient. I’ll probably go back to one of the zero-waste shops for dried foods, as I haven’t found a good alternative. Until plastic-free independents focus on the convenience, and not just the eco niche, they’ll never be more than a novelty.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.



7 thoughts on “The Full English Accompaniment – Zero-waste is still too eco-warrior

  1. Totally agree on the environmentalism stuff. It’s great the stores are pioneering this stuff but until the big guns get behind it, make the process efficient and convenient enough for everyday folks it’s not going to make much of an impact.

    Fortunately I think there is big sentiment against plastic and therefore demand for this from the average consumer so hopefully it won’t be long before the plastic tides start to change!

    Kudos for trying it out though, I am pretty sure there is nothing like that where I live so am stuck with Lidl, although we definitely could be more conscious about what items we are purchasing from there as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blue Planet 2 was a game changer for plastics, public opinion has shifted so dramatically. I think there will come a point when sufficient people are conscious of their plastic use that the big supermarkets have to sit up and take notice, or else they’ll suffer bad PR. Long may environmentalism remain fashionable!


  2. I mostly agree but I’ll go further. If some of us eco-warriors start to buy packaging free and find alternatives to plastic etc won’t have enough impact. But if we started thinking big, if we the FI community and all those early retirees, individually or by joining forces, started working on environmental projects, we could potentially have a higher impact.
    I’m trying to raise recycling rate in my Romanian hometown by raising awareness online, by talking to key people, by asking unconfortable questions. And the results are pretty impressive: the quantity of plastic that lands in the recycling truck went up 100% within a year.

    Liked by 1 person

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