Saturday, September 29, 2007

Avoiding Plastic at the Grocery Store: First Attempt

After fretting for several hours this morning, I went to the grocery store (pictured left), and made my first attempt at buying products with little or no plastic packaging.

I started my shopping adventure in the produce section. I would say that this is the least intimidating section of the grocery store, plastic-wise, so it was a nice way to ease myself into my oh-so-difficult task. While I was there, I picked up some green peppers, baking potatoes, ginger, squash of various sorts, and a few yellow onions, and of course, I didn't put any of these veggies into plastic produce bags.

I also bought some lettuce, though, and I would say that was the only tricky part in the veggies department. The lettuce was a bit wet so it was kinda weird not to put it into a plastic produce bag, but I just rolled with it and put it on top of one of the cloth grocery bags in my cart that I had brought with me from home. It worked out fine.

Note on produce: I was a bit peeved that the squash and green peppers I bought had big plastic stickers on them. Down with plastic stickers on produce!!

After buying my veggies, I went to the deli counter because I wanted some ham. Before I put my order in, I asked the woman if she could pack my ham into butcher paper and she said they only had butcher paper at the meat counter. Alas, I didn't get any ham. At the meat counter, I ordered some ground beef for the chili I'm making this week, and I asked the meat counter man pack it into butcher paper. He thought it was just weird that I didn't want a styrofoam tray or a plastic bag for the meat, but I just told him it would be fine that way. And it was.

My next mission was sweets. My boyfriend and I live together and he has quite the sweet tooth so he insisted that I buy cookies and ice cream. For cookies, I found Pepperidge Farm cookies packed in paper and foil. For ice cream, my b.f. needs the lactose free stuff so I had to buy Breyer's, which is packed in paper, but has a plastic safety seal. Bummer.

Toilet Paper
And now, the scariest part: toilet paper. I found three brands of toilet paper that were not wrapped in plastic, but as expected, they were all individually packaged. I ended buying both the Scott and Marcal brands to test them out. According to the label, Marcal is made from 100% recycled paper, presumably office paper (e.g. someone's TPS Reports). I haven't opened either brand yet, so I'm still deathly scared that they're both going to be horrible. Again, wiping with office paper? Ouch!

Other Stuff I Bought
During my shopping adventure, I also bought:
  • eggs in a paper carton
  • tuna fish in aluminum cans
  • milk in a glass bottle from Oberweiss Dairy (has plastic spout...darn)
  • El Milagro tortilla chips in a brown paper bag (has small plastic window...double-darn)
  • Natalie's salsa in a glass jar
  • Pepperidge Farm goldfish in a paper bag
  • diced tomatoes in aluminum cans
  • generic tampons in a cardboard box and individually wrapped in paper
  • Coke Zero in aluminum cans
There were also a few things I couldn't buy today:
  • q-tips (need to look elsewhere)
  • cereal (maybe I can find this at a bulk food store)
  • yogurt (it's ALL packed in plastic, but that's okay because I can make my own)
  • bread (only really expensive bread is packed in paper, but I can make my own bread, too)
  • deli ham (just need to try another store)

So that's a summary of my plastic-avoiding shopping experience today. The only plastic packaging I ended up with was the small window on the tortilla chips, the plastic safety seal on the lactose free ice cream, and the spout on the milk bottle, so I think it went really well. And I must add that the cashier didn't even notice that I didn't use plastic produce bags and didn't think I was weird for bringing my own bags. As I was walking back to my boyfriend's car with my cart, I really felt good about what I did today. I felt empowered. It was great.


Anonymous said...

Marcal comes wrapped in plastic. You, as the consumer, don't see it because the store takes it out of the plastic before putting it on the shelf. I wrote all about this, as well as the best alternative I have found for plastic-free toilet paper, here:

It's great that you are doing this. Feel free to e-mail me directly.

LifeLessPlastic said...

Hmpff. When I was at the grocery store last week and trying to be all plastic-free I was wondering whether the things I was buying came wrapped in plastic when they were shipped. Alas... But it's cool that I can order seventh generation cheaper online and that's it's totally platic free. Very good to know.

Oh, and I'm sure I can come up with lots of good questions for you, so I'll definitely email you with some of them soon. Thanks again!!

72nola said...

i know u posted this a zillion years ago, but it's great to read. more inspiring than i can tell you.

Megalofyia said...

Unfortunately many aluminum cans are lined with a thin layer of plastic on the inside.

Megalofyia said...

Unfortunately many aluminum cans have a thin layer of plastic on the inside. I've been having a very hard time going plastic free; especially as a single person in a rural area. Buy pork rinds with no plastic is pretty much impossible.