Hope you’re all well today. I thought I’d do a
quick super long post to update you all on some of the swaps I’ve been making in an effort to shop a little more ethically. Not all are the perfect solution but I’m working on getting to a better place!
You all know about our milkman from Morton’s Dairies (if you don’t, click here) and that’s working out well. We get our milk delivered three times a week and it’s great. I remembered a friend saying that for some inexplicable reason, skimmed milk works really well in the coffee frother we both have so I’ve started using that and my cappuccinos are back on point.
The milkman also delivers orange juice in glass bottles. We rarely drink the stuff, but had visitors a few weeks back so I added some to our Saturday delivery. To be honest, the quality was pretty crap so I probably won’t buy it again. Need to seek out a better option for Christmas.
One of the biggest changes we have made is that we have started to buy the majority of our fruit and veg from our local green grocers.
In doing so we are not only supporting local business but have also managed to significantly reduce the amount of plastic packaging we bring home. Unfortunately our berries and baby spinach still come wrapped in plastic and I haven’t really found much of an alternative.
I have half a mind to start growing things like lettuce, spinach and berries, but my gardening skills and enthusiasm aren’t really up to much so I’ll have to psyche myself up for that and prepare well.
Next door to the greengrocers is our local butchers. I went in looking for free range chicken only to find that they have made the decision not to stock it but to sell British Farm Assured chicken instead. I’m still trying to fully understand what that means. What the butcher explained to me was that Free Range Chicken was more likely to have had antibiotics pumped into it but it was also more likely to have had a nice life. A quick google hasn’t helped much as I keep finding articles about the “Red Tractor” logo. If the butcher’s chicken is simple “red tractor” chicken I think I’ll be giving it a miss in future as it sounds like those poor animals have a pretty miserable life.
As an alternative, I’ve been doing some online grocery shopping with Ocado (perhaps a topic for another post as I feel like I need to look into the ethics of having your groceries delivered) and they stock a huge amount of Waitrose products. As far as the animals go, Waitrose seem to be the more compassionate of the supermarkets so I’m also still buying some of my meat from them, particularly if it’s on offer. Problem is, it’s wrapped in plastic whereas I can bring my own containers to the butchers (which I clearly didn’t in the pic above, which was taken on my first visit). I’m not giving up meat again any time soon so I really need to do my research and think all the options through. Today’s delivery consisted of some half price organic free range chicken & outdoor reared pork sausages. Hopefully the animals had a nice life before they ended up in my shopping bag.
There’s also a fish shop along the same side of the street as the two above. So far it seems ok, but expensive, and doesn’t have quite the selection I would have hoped for. In fairness though, as long as it stocks salmon we’re usually good to go.
We’ve made a decision for the moment to only buy Barilla pasta as it’t the only brand we can find that comes in cardboard packaging.
There is a small plastic film on the cardboard that has to be removed and put in the general waste but at least the rest of the packaging is recyclable. Again, it’s a bit more expensive than the “own brand” stuff we usually buy but it’s on offer at the moment so I’m stocking up! The ideal scenario here would be that I find a shop that sells pasta from great big vats so I can just go in, stock up and pop it straight into one of my own containers. I have discovered a few but they’re not super close to me. If I find myself with a big pantry stock up to do, I may try to have Plastic Free Pantry deliver me some supplies, but I feel I need to order more than a bit of fusilli to make it worth my while.
We’re about to try a new (to us) coffee that is made by Union Coffee. Again it’s a bit more expensive than our usual Lavazza so it would want to be amazing. They do seem to care about their farmers though so there’s another point in their favour. I initially thought it was packaged in paper but it’s not recyclable so I assume it’s lined with something to keep the beans fresh.
There is also a lovely roasterie/coffee shop called 92 Degrees near work that’s independently owned and sells its own beans (not sure in what kind of packaging). Could be another good option but again, pricey. Will give them a go also and see how we feel. I think it’s going to be tough to find coffee that is packaged ethically, although from memory, Illy coffee comes in tins and is delicious but super expensive.
We’ve got two different loo papers on the go at the moment. A Waitrose eco-friendly one that is made from 100% recycled paper, but is wrapped in plastic, and our Who Gives a Crap free sample, that is also made form recycled paper, but packed in paper too and donates half its profits to help build loos for those in need. See more here.
It all sounds super fantastic but it’s not cheap so I’m currently weighing up the options before I commit to them. Both brands also do kitchen paper so we’ve got the Waitrose ones in the kitchen currently but may consider the others, depending on price.
We’re also gradually switching some of our cleaning products over to the Ecover brand.
I think it’s a step in the right direction but ultimately I feel there must be a better answer to the washing up liquid/laundry detergent plastic container conundrum.
Finally, I’ve just received a delivery of some of Baby Spice’s Kit and Kin eco nappies. (again on offer as they too are more expensive than regulars – do you notice a pattern?).
They purport to be partially biodegradable better for the environment and better for baby than the regular disposables. I’ve also tried the new Pampers Pure Protection nappies that seem to have been made with stuff that is far more bum and environmentally friendly but not biodegradable.
I’m under no illusions that either are a better choice than reusables. When Luca was tiny I did give cloth nappies a go and I lasted 10 days. When you have a baby who roars crying every time you change his nappy (in fairness, he cried pretty much all the time anyway – thank god those days have passed!), you’re more interested in something you have to change less frequently rather than more. I felt like I was constantly changing soaking wet nappies. He always seemed to leak like crazy so I was also having to do a full costume change a few times a day (which really didn’t help the crying baby situation) and in the end I just gave up on them. They have since been donated and I never want to see them again. I do still have a supply of cloth baby wipes from Cheeky Wipes that I got out of the habit of using, mostly due to laziness, so they will be making a reappearance as soon as our current stock of environmentally unfriendly wipes have been mostly depleted.
So I think that’s mostly it for now. Sorry the post was so long! As you can see, we’ve made quite the few swaps but I do worry that the costs associated are about to spiral. When it’s a few pence here and there it’s not too noticeable but it all does add up and we’re certainly not growing money trees in our back garden (I can’t even grow spinach remember). I think I might start a spreadsheet of costs so I can keep track and I’ll share some of my findings.
See you all soon x
PS – I’m an idiot. I impulse bought some potato cakes because they were on offer (I buy a lot of things on offer!) and clearly they were going to arrive wrapped in plastic. I had just spent ages painstakingly going through my shopping looking for the “goodest” alternative and fell at the final “flash sale” hurdle. Well done Cathy.
PPS – Ocado why do you wrap your magazine in plastic? And are all the bags really necessary? I know you are super proud that you recycle them but would it not be better to eliminate them altogether?