Plastic-free family groceries

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Modern day parenting can sometimes look and feel like the creation of a huge plastic mountain from plastic bottles and plates, cling film wrapped sandwiches, baby wipes – to the plastic glitter sprinkled on top of it all – the list goes on.

The last 12 months has seen environmental concerns around plastic move into the mainstream. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 woke many to the alarming levels of pollution created by micro-plastics in the oceans and how this is affecting earth’s fragile eco-systems. As a result there is a real movement away from single-use plastic taking place; more and more families are looking for simple ways to reduce their reliance on plastic.

Supermarkets are lumbering into action with different plastic reduction promises; to remove unrecyclable black plastic (Waitrose by 2019), making all packaging recyclable (Asda by 2025), going plastic-free on own label food (Iceland by 2023) – all good news as jointly the supermarket industry produces a billion tonnes of plastic each year. Meanwhile, a grassroots alternative is building momentum across the country, locally owned and run independent bulk stores are opening offering families an alternative to the plastic covered aisles of the local Tesco.

From Totnes to Birmingham, bulk stores are opening to help people take simple steps towards a plastic-free lifestyle by selling packaging-free food and household items. Bulk shopping is essentially old school general store shopping; buy what you need by weight without unnecessary packaging, exactly how older generations shopped pre-supermarket.

The Refill Larder in Teddington, South-West London opened this month as a pop-up and online store, offering bulk shopping as well as lots of non-plastic household items like bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax wraps and solid shampoos. At the Refill Larder shoppers are encouraged to bring their own containers to shop or use the compostable paper bags available.

The store sells packaging-free organic cupboard ingredients including pastas, rices, grains, nuts, cereals, seeds and chocolates. They also have liquid refills covering bathroom and cleaning essentials from shampoo, hand soap, shower gel and conditioner to environmentally friendly washing up liquid, fabric conditioner, laundry detergent, rinse aid and toilet cleaner.  Customers stay to chat and pass on tips and recipes, very much like local stores of old.

Primary schools have switched on and are teaching pupils about the pollution created by waste and the limitations of plastic; ultimately it will be the next generation that bares the brunt of this generation’s love affair with single-use plastic. There is, however, hope with more than a ground swell of movement amongst switched on parents, looking to escape throwaway culture. ‘Reuse, refuse and recycle’ has become a mantra for anyone looking to make a difference. As well as the packaging free options available in bulk stores there are lots of swaps such as bamboo cutlery, stainless steel bottles, biodegradable wipes and even biodegradable eco-glitter but moving these alternatives into the mainstream requires conscious consumption. Support the alternative and be part of the solution.

The lowdown: The Refill Larder

Visit The Refill Larder online store for bamboo cutlery, biodegradable eco-glitter, kids bottles, lunchboxes, bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax wraps and solid shampoos – all plastic-free.

Family Traveller readers receive 10% discount for the whole of October 2018 using FAMTRAV1 at the online checkout.

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