The impending ban on regular plastic carry bags in Queensland has created a definite upswing in interest in alternatives.
There will be heavy duty plastic bags for sale, however, these are really no better as very few people seriously reuse them and the inherent problems still exist – the use of non-renewable resources to create the plastic and the waste which invariably ends up in waterways and the oceans.
Many of the so-called ‘reuseable bags’ are also derived from plastic and are far from ideal.
You can make your own fabric bags (preferably from second-hand or salvaged fabric) or buy from groups such as your local Boomerang Bag group. Otherwise, grab a cardboard box or two to stack your groceries.
Beyond these obvious choices, there has been much discussion, both online and in real life, about the impact of the changes.
But what will I use to line my bin?
The fabric bag won’t fit the metal packing rack?
There is no space to pack my groceries?
And so on………
All of these questions are valid. We need to think outside the box and perhaps change some other habits.
The first thing that springs to mind is reducing waste so that there is less or no need for bin liners.
Secondly, is about how you shop, what you buy and where you buy it. This is what I want to discuss today.
In an online forum, I recently mentioned that I bought very little at the supermarket and could generally place it directly in my cloth bag as it was scanned through the checkout. I place the handle over one arm and with the other hand I load the items into the bag. I think this comment raised some interest about how I actually achieve this.
The most important tip is make the supermarket your last resort.
Eat simply, cook from scratch, grow some of your own food, support local small businesses, buy in bulk, buy online, buy at Farmer’s/Growers markets and finally, go to the supermarket.
I do not shop at either of the two major supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths.
We live near a small town with a Woolworths and an IGA supermarket. I buy a few things at the IGA and also go to the local butcher and our Co-op which stocks a wide range of organic products from both Australia and overseas. Most of my supermarket shopping is done at Aldi which is about 10km away in a different direction. The fruit and vegetable vendor that I go to is not far from Aldi. I buy the majority of my dry goods at a family-owned shop with bulk bins. It is about 45km away so I plan my trips and stock up about twice a year.
By shopping at small, independent retailers you will find it much easier to use and pack your own bags as there is generally more counter space, less pressure and the seller will probably be much more supportive of your decision. I also take my own containers/bags to have them refilled in almost all instances but that is a discussion for another day.
To give you an idea of what I buy and where I buy it, I have created the following lists of everything I buy, including food and non-food items.
I have not included fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer as this is seasonal and depends on my planned meals for the week as well as what is growing in the garden.
Chicken breast fillets
Soda Stream gas canisters
Apple cider vinegar
Bread flour (white)
Brown rice flour
Cat food (tinned)
Cat food (dry)
Tuna in springwater
Skim milk powder
Direct from manufacturer (local)
I am sure you can see items missing from the lists, so please feel free to ask questions. It may be that we simply do not use it or that I make it myself. For example, I make tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, jam, peanut paste, onion flakes, pasta, pizza bases and GMan makes bread.