Back in the good ‘ol days, going for the weekly food shop was a social affair. With basket and shopping list in hand, the women of the household would take to the high street to visit the butcher, general store and bakery. In the general store, wooden shelves would line walls of the store filled with large glass jars of flour, grains, dried fruit, herbs, spices and more. Customers would line up to be served by the store owner, who would select each item, weigh it and pass it to the customer either loose or in their own container or a paper bag.
Then the need for ease and convenience grew. Modern materials like plastic became a common household item, the rise of large supermarkets took off and they found ways to keep fresh produce on their shelves and in their fridges for longer, with the use of plastic packaging. Plastic bags were made for customer ease and suddenly, this manmade, toxic material became a normal sight to see our food wrapped in.
Fast forward to the current day and mindless consumerism has never been so high, we favour convenience over fresh healthy food and think nothing of the plastic packaging we throw 'away' when we unpack our grocery shop. But where is 'away'?
You might be thinking, 'Oh, but I recycle' and this is great it helps but this isn't a solution. Plastic particularly, can only be recycled once and it is then down-graded and used to make a plastic item that isn’t recyclable. We need to change our habits, and that – I'm afraid – starts with you and I, at home.
Thankfully we are seeing a rise in the desire to go back to the more traditional way of shopping for our food, minus the unnecessary plastic packaging. Awareness has boomed about the problem of plastic pollution, and rightly so – finally, there is a growing movement of people wanting to tackle their plastic consumption and because of this, a wave of Zero Waste Shops are opening across the UK (and the world!) to offer us a plastic-free way to shop for our weekly food.
Taking our own containers to fill with loose produce gives us a sense of nostalgia, whilst at the same time the feeling that we are part of something new, something big. Since the very first zero waste shop opened in Totnes, a wave of conscious consuming is sweeping the UK as more shops like this pop up to offer this new (old) way to shop. People already aware of zero waste shopping rejoice and people who hadn't thought about reducing their waste are introduced to the idea of being part of the change.
So as I read about the news of another zero waste shop opening, I smile about the future of food shopping, and the rise of the zero waste shop.
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