Saturday, 25 October 2008


Today we went food shopping for next week, at the local independent shops.

We did reasonably well, but have already knowingly bought some things which have non-recyclable packaging! Oh dear. Here's our haul:

I should say that this is not everything we will eat over the week :) Plans for next week also include a couple of nights out (Norwich Beer Festival, hurrah) and a party with friends, so less cooking than usual. I hope that isn't seen as cheating! ;)

To report on the shopping...

Fresh fruit and veg all went into paper bags, or straight into our fabric shopping bags. Big tick. We also got some tinned tomatoes and beans etc., and some local apple juice that came in a glass bottle instead of a tetra. I should plug the shop - Ford & Yarham on Gloucester Street in Norwich - as they are friendly and have a fabulous range of things including very local produce when available. Most things are unpackaged, but two of our staples, cucumber and celery, come only in plastic so we gave them up this week. (Later on I found unwrapped cucumbers at the Co-op, and let out an "Aha!" that made me look like some weird cucumber freak.)

In the bakery (Breadwinner), our Belgian buns went into a paper bag, but the bread we were expecting to get in paper was bagged in plastic after we said "yes" to getting it sliced. Turns out that as the loaf would have poked out of the top of a paper bag when whole, it would have been very messy when sliced! We'll know next time - and we'll re-use the plastic bag! Ironically we only bought bread on Mark's suggestion that he takes his lunch to work next week instead of buying a sandwich from Tesco.

The meat (Banham's butchers) and fish we bought came in those thin white plastic bags that get sealed with tape. We won't be able to re-use these, but at least they are small and use far less resources than the supermarkets' typical combination of tray, wrap, and juice-absorbing-pad-thing. Annoyingly, though, while I was pondering over next Sunday's roast dinner, the butcher bagged up the ham I'd just asked for - even though it already came in vacuum packs. And I had to buy two as he had nothing except packs of 3 slices. So that wasn't exactly a packaging victory! Next time we'll see if the other butcher nearby (Spurgeon's) slices cooked meat on demand. I have seen other people comment about taking their own containers to get meat etc. put into, so maybe that is also worth a try (we don't have many containers though, so if it works it's perhaps a good excuse to get a Chinese takeaway? ;)

Dried fruit, bought by weight from larger containers, also went into thin poly bags, but they will be re-used to carry the cake bars I'm going to make with the fruit (as a replacement for bought cereal bars). At least the shop knotted those bags instead of taping them! From the same shop, our eggs came in a re-used box with the farm's own label over the top of the original logo. Eggscellent! (Sorry...)

Finally we had to get new toothbrushes, which of course came in blister packs. I remember that the Natural Collection catalogue had toothbrushes with replaceable heads, so that's on the list to try.

Things we avoided compared to our usual weekly shop are:
  • celery
  • yogurts
  • biscuits/cakes/cereal bars
  • crisps
  • prepared stir-fry vegetables and sauce
  • fresh herbs
Things we didn't need this week but that would have given us problems:
  • breakfast cereal
  • pasta/rice
  • flour/sugar and other baking ingredients
  • toilet rolls/kitchen roll
  • margarine
  • cheese
We also forgot to get any milk!

To smugly polish our slightly green and very small halo, for the first time we cycled to the local shops and set not a foot inside a big supermarket (just a small Co-op). It is slightly embarrassing to admit it's the first time we have ever done it, but better late than never! We spent less than we would have in the supermarket, supported local businesses, were home quicker, and got a bit of exercise too. We easily fitted our stuff into four panniers, and nothing was damaged when we got home. It helped that the sun was shining though!

So, we've made an early and not exactly perfect start on Waste Free Week. The real challenge begins on Monday though - that's when we start keeping count!


  1. Hi Katye - Just popping over to say good luck for the start of your challenge. Re the polythene bread bag, once you no longer need it, you could drop it off at one of the supermarket bag recycling points or bundle it up with others that come your way and send it to Polyprint Mailing Films in Norwich, who would recycle it for you.

    If you come up with anything else this week, that might need that extra effort to get rid of, you could always send them to Impact Recycling down in Kent:

    It's not cheating honest, just lateral thinking :-D

    Good luck, hope it all goes well.

  2. Hiya :) I'm so excited to see your blog and the progress you have made so far. your shopping expedition was excellent - I got caught out so many times when we first started our challenge; you're like a pro already.

    Enjoy your week and I'll be following your adventures!

    Mrs G (

  3. Thanks guys! I have been meaning to get organised for using Polyprint, so I will do so this week.

    I work at UEA alongside climate change researchers and so I am pondering the carbon footprint impacts of posting my recyclables to Kent and how that trades off with landfill... ;)

    However, I have heard others say that other plastics can go in the carrier bag recycling so I will see if I can find out for definite what's accepted at my local one.

  4. Awesome. I checked at Sainsbury last night and they only take carrier bags back. Not any other types! Bah humbug!

  5. Hi Katy,

    Well done you on taking part in this challenge! Just wanted to add my two-pennorth on flour & sugar bags - as long as they're paper ones they should be accepted as part of your paper recycling (they certainly are here in York), but if not, they will compost just fine - in fact, they'll be a healthy dose of "brown" for your mostly kitchen waste compost heap.