Where can you now actually shop for plastic-free products?
It varies from country to country and store to store how products are packed and how much plastic is used. I already talked about some alternatives you can use to minimize the amount of plastic in your lives. As well as eliminating some products completely. Furthermore, you can take some other steps like to shop more intentionally. The shops I am going to list are specific to Europe, meaning they may not exist in your home country, but you might be able to find something similar where you live.
Let’s start with traditional supermarkets.
When shopping for groceries the main things you can be intentional about are vegetables and fruits, dairy products, pastries and bread, meat and eggs.
Vegetables and fruits
Try to go more with the fruits and veggies which aren’t already packed in plastic. Yes, it may take a little longer to find them especially if you are not used to buying them loose. They may be a little more expensive as well. To avoid using one of the plastic bags provided, I used to stick the sticker from the scale directly on the banana peel. This trick works for many other fruit and veggies as well.
Today, many shops provide in addition to the plastic bags, some more environmentally friendly alternatives. In Austria, one chain of stores sells polyester bags for the customers to put their fruits and veggies in, which can be reused at different stores as well. They have a small section for the customer to put the sticker on as well. I and my friends have used ours now for a couple of months and we are really happy with them. Once we even used them in Croatia and the shop assistant was really delighted with the idea.
If you don’t have the opportunity to buy unpackaged fruits and vegetables at stores, another idea would be to buy them at a local farmers market. A positive aspect of the farmers market is that only seasonal products are sold.
With dairy products, it is a little more difficult since there are far more subcategories. I like to use butter, which is packed in paper, but I am not sure if this is the best solution. For cheese, I try buying it unwrapped either in the supermarket or at the local farmers market if I am able to put it in my own container. Try to buy yogurt in jars, some supermarkets have a system installed where you can return the empty jars and they will recycle them and the costumer gets a small amount of the price back in return. If they don’t sell it in glass where you live, buy it in bulk packs. That way you will have plastic, but the pack will hopefully last for a while. In Austria, most of the milk at the supermarkets is sold in a carton, but I know many places where you can only buy milk in plastic bottles. If you live in such an area there might be an opportunity for you to either buy the biggest container available or to buy milk in glass bottles.
Who doesn’t love to put some delicious cream cheese in a sandwich and enjoy it as a snack? The only problem I see is that in many cases the wrapping is made out of plastic. To avoid the material, you can either buy it in larger amounts and put some of it in the freezer or make it yourself which isn’t always possible.
There are also some smaller shops which sell the goods totally unpacked or plastic-free. I love to buy sanitary products or other things that last for a long while there. Shopping plastic-free requires a lot more planning since you need to bring your own containers, but you won’t be forced to buying products which you don’t need as much. The shops I really like are “Lieber ohne” and “Der Greißler-unverpackt.ehrlich” in Vienna. Maybe you can find something similar to them in the area you live in as well.
If you have the opportunity it is always great to shop at local farmer markets, the butcher or bakery. The products might be a little pricier, but the quality is definitely better. Small local shops and farmers bring a lot of history and tradition with them and you can buy the goods in their natural size and shape. The loyalty of some people towards local shops is also higher than in enormous supermarkets.
Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the shops or products and I am not getting paid for advertising them either. My aim is to show you alternatives to the traditional ways and goods we know.
In summary, you can say that you can choose between buying goods unpacked, without plastic wrapping, bulk packages and looking for alternatives.