Food packaging is at the forefront of conversations and I wanted to write a little piece to talk about the changes we have made as a family over the passed year or so on how we buy and store our food.
January 2019, we decided to make some big changes to how we shop. We already bought local food and products from farmers markets and the high street, organic food where possible and grew a modest amount of produce in our own kitchen garden but there were many aspects of our weekly shop that was troubling me due to single use plastic, everything from wrappers, bags to plastic tubs. The waste did not sit easy with me.
Then we had the good fortune of a new shop opening at Nailsea, North Somerset, Simply Green Zero Waste provided the changes I was looking for.
Initially opening as a monthly market stall in November 2018 and later as a permanent shop in March 2019, Simply Green is a shop with a conscience, encouraging people to ditch their single use plastic and take their own containers in to the shop to refill.
Owner Bethan was inspired by a trip to Australia where this system is common place. Customers can bring in their own empty jars or grab a sterilised container from the jar library, fill up with as much or little as needed, then weigh and pay. Super easy!
It is an idea I remember from when I was a kid, I use to love scooping out rice, nuts and flour from deep drums but those shops disappeared over the years, sadly swallowed up by the one-stop shop supermarkets.
This method adds another dimension to recycling. Rather than throwing out your empty jars in your recycling bin and 'hoping' someone actually recycles it and does not just ship it off to dump it in another country, you are reusing a receptacle that has already been made and re using it. It is the ultimate eco shop, reusing your own waste products. Nothing is thrown away. This stops the need for another jar being produced, wasting energy and planet resources to replace a perfectly functional jar you have disguarded.
Bethan sells a large range of organic, gluten-free and vegan products from grains, pulses, nuts, fruit, seeds, herbs, spices, cereals, sweets and oils to loose tea and coffee beans. And she will even grind the coffee beans for you! Nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee, the ultimate temptation and saves on having to purchase another kitchen gadget you really do not need. Check out her full product range.
I feel one of the greatest things to come out of shopping this way is the social experience. Going shopping is no longer tedious, it is interactive and fun!
There is always a happy atmosphere in the shop. All of the Simply Green team are very welcoming and make you feel like you want to stay, chat about food and products you've tried, rather than get your shop over with as quickly as possible. It is just simply a very friendly social space.
The local community have really embraced Simply Green, the light and airy space it has become a place where you always meet someone you know and stop for a chat.
The shop has provided us with a source of eco cleaning products. I hated buying the huge single use plastic containers of washing tablets or caustic spray cleaners. Such a ridiculous waste and the contents of the cleaners are not only bad for the planet but also my lungs! I would always have terrible respiratory problems whilst using them in the confined space of our bathroom and I would feel ill for hours after so we have swapped to Simply Green's planted based products. Now the house smells of essential oils not bleach,
We use the super concentrated combined laundry wash and conditioner scented with orange essential oil; one bottle has lasted months! Far cheaper than over-packaged chemical-ridden traditional household brands.
Bethan is frequently increasing her product range so there is often a surprise each time you go in.
Another area where there is a lot of plastic waste at home is in the bathroom with toiletries Simply Green stocks a wide collection of locally made products from shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower and hand gels. All made with natural ingredients, no palm oil or nasty chemicals.
A friend gave me a present of a Wild Grove shampoo bar last year and I have bought them from Simply Green ever since. What an amazing, package saving, ecological product. Made from natural ingredients AND made locally in Bristol so a low carbon footprint too.
At £6 for a 65g bar I wondered if I could justify spending that much on shampoo BUT it lasts AGES. I have long hair but a bar lasts me a couple of months, smells divine and although I risk sounding like an advert it actually does leave my hair in great condition, feeling and smelling fantastic.
The majority of Bethan's products are organic and at an affordable price, making it accessible to everyone. Load up with organic plain, strong, self-rising, spelt or rice flour at £1.20-£1.40 / kg. Finely milled, I find these flours such a different texture to pre-packaged flour and they certainly make great cakes. It is reassuring to know you are baking with products that have not been sprayed with chemicals.
Click photos galleries to enlarge images.
Bambu grubware to wooden toothbrushes and coconut scourers. It's all here. Thoughtful plant based products, minimalising waste, maximising biodegradable, natural products, replacing plastic items we have taken for granted for years. Helping to save the planet!
Every change counts. However small.
Simply Green has revolutionised how I do my weekly shop. I purchase the products in my own jars or in paper bags which I then reuse until they perish.
Shopping in this way just requires a change in mind set. Putting thought into what you buy and how you buy it. Once you break the ice and give weigh and pay a try it is difficult to go back to the old method of just mindless throwing over-packaged products in your trolley. You think more carefully about where your products have been made, how far have they travelled, how they are stored, what are the ingredients, are they organic?
I cannot buy my entire weekly shop here but I buy everything that I can, filling in the gaps from local small holdings and farms for eggs, meat and preserves, local greengrocers and finally supermarkets for items I cannot source anywhere else. It would make a huge difference to carbon footprints if everyone tried to shop local.
Hot off the presses, the exciting news from Simply Green is that they are due to open a second shop at the end of February in Portishead, so increasing the opportunity for more people to reduce, reuse and recycle. Happy shopping everyone!
Find out more about Simply Green at: www.simplygreenzerowaste.co.uk
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