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.

Produce
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!!

Meat
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.

Sweets
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)

Conclusion
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.

5 comments:

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:

http://www.fakeplasticfish.com/labels/toilet%20paper.html

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.