Why it’s about time we all invested in reusable containers.
Do you find it annoying when you open a bag of rice and the tear goes right down the side of it? There goes the rest of your afternoon: you’ll be spending it trying to reach the grains that have dropped out and rolled under the fridge. Well, there’s a simple solution which will ensure this doesn’t happen ever again: buy your rice without the tearable packaging. This way of shopping is becoming increasingly popular, not only because you’ll spill less of your uncooked foods on the floor, but also because it’s great for the environment: no more plastic packaging = zero waste. So, how can you go about shopping this way?
Step one: Find a shop. There are more and more of them opening up all over Europe, so there is (or soon will be) one near where you live. Most of these shops only sell organic and/or fair trade products, so search for “eco-shop”, “organic shop”, “package-free shop” or “zero waste shop” in your internet browser. Some farmers also sell their fresh produce this way, either directly on their farm or at the market, so you should look them up too.
Step two: Come prepared. Don’t turn up with your hands in your pockets just like I did the first time. I don’t know why I was expecting them to offer me a bag to put my pasta in. The whole point of it all is that they won’t. As you can imagine, I didn’t buy much that day. Instead, I got a lecture from the shop owner telling me what I had to do: bring my own plastic containers, glass jars and reusable bottles… anything hollow with a lid on it, basically. Well, I think that’s what she said. I’m on a year abroad, so conversations can sometimes be a bit tricky. As I discovered later, you can buy reusable jars the first time you go – you just won’t look quite as cool as the other customers who have come prepared.
Step three: Get your flatmates involved. The great thing about serving yourself is that you can take the exact amount you know you and your flatmates can eat. If you’re on a tight weekly-budget, that could be a great option. You’ll also have to get experimental with your cooking because no packaging also means no instructions – so you’ll have to work as a team to figure out how long it takes for your pasta to turn al dente.
All in all, it’s not as hard as it seems to go waste-free. You just have to get used to it and before you know it; you’ll become that person who always carries an empty glass jar around, ready for your weekly shop at the zero-waste store.
About the Author: Laëtitia Fox is in her third year of studying BA Language and Culture at University College London.