Consumers Want Less Plastic Pollution – What Can Supermarkets Do?

A picture can say a thousand words….

That’s a lot of plastic pollution right there!

I picked this one up from Greenpeace’s Social Media and it says it all – but I’m still going to qualify it with my own (thousand-ish) words on the plastic pollution because of supermarkets.


What We Want and What Supermarkets Can Do

According to Greenpeace, in a recent poll, 90% of UK customers support the idea of having products free from plastic packaging.

If one supermarket committed to go Single Use Plastic Free it would be a game changer. The others would have to follow suit in order to complete. We’re sick of plastic pollution and supermarkets aren’t doing enough.

In my year without Supermarkets, I’ll be sharing where this journey is taking me. This article by Greenpeace offers six things supermarkets can do to reduce their plastic pollution, and I’ve added my own take.

Ikigai and purpose

How supermarkets can halve plastic packaging | Greenpeace UK

Here is what they suggest, plus my own suggestions. I’m no expert, but some of this stuff is obvious, so supermarkets have no excuse not to do it!

Other suggestions are things you can try instead of relying on a supermarket to get what you need.


There Are Plenty of Ways to Avoid Plastic Pollution



Although a lot of plastic packaging claims to be ‘recyclable’, calling something ‘recyclable’ is simply shifting the responsibility to the consumer.

The point is not to continue extracting diminishing fossil fuels from the environment, destroying habitats and creating deadly pollution, to make virgin plastic that probably wont get recycled anyway because there is simply too much of it.

Supermarkets need to stop shifting the blame and take responsibility.

Recycling is the last resort, when all other options are exhausted. Plastic does have value in the appropriate applications, but covering food in a packaging that takes thousands of years to decompose simply to keep it fresh or contained for a few weeks is absurdly disproportionate and irresponsible.

Because plastic takes so long to decompose, it is ideal for reuse. It’s only single use if you use it once.

Making something impossible to reuse is nothing but a cynical and greedy way to extract more money from consumers regardless of the consequences. Such blatant, self-serving, disregard for the consequences of such greed is simply an evil act.

Cosmetic companies in particular are guilty of this. Even vegan or cruelty free products often come in single use plastic. If it comes in single use plastic, calling it ‘cruelty free’ is a lie, when you consider the damage plastic does to wildlife and the environment.

What can You do?

Choose the product with packaging that can be reused for something else or refilled. Or make your own.



This is where zero waste shops come into their own and recent trials by Waitrose have proved successful. There is definitely scope for this type of model to be rolled out more widely in supermarkets.

The idea is that the retailer buys the product in bulk, usually dry, long life products such as beans, grains and rice, therefore reducing the need for single use plastic. The consumer brings their own packaging and buys just what they need.

What can You do?

Choose to refill your own container instead of paying for unnecessary packing. Not only are jars of colourful food aesthetically pleasing and inviting in your pantry, you can also stock up easily or just buy the amount you need for the recipe instead. Refilling reduces food and packaging waste.

Inside my pantry
Inside my pantry


Here is a database of Zero Waste shops in the UK. Type in your postcode and look for your nearest shop.



Right now, society treats packaging as something disposable – something that can be used once then tossed away. This mindset has led to the plastic pollution crisis, and moving back to refillable, reusable packaging is the best way to turn things around. (source: Greenpeace)


You can buy household cleaning products as concentrate and then add water, or use less of it. There are businesses who specialise in this, such as Splosh (one for me to try myself, I think). They use plastic packaging for the bottles and refills, but you send the packing back to them and they refill it.

What can you do?

Look for the concentrated version and add water, instead of paying for excess packing and added water.



Back to the image from Morrison’s. Instead of buying a bag of fruit or veg, just buy what you need, loose.

You can choose the size you want, too. Need a couple of big spuds for jackets and some small ones for a salad? Rather than take a punt on a bag and hope for the best, choose the sizes you want!

Mother nature provides most fruit and veg with it’s own packaging, for the rest, there are better alternatives to keep them fresh and contained.

What can you do?

Choose to buy the loose fruit and veg.

Or better still, support local business:

Shop for loose veg in your local greengrocer, supporting a local family business and keeping your local high street alive.

Get your produce from a veg box.

Use a community garden scheme. Do something good for your community, support vulnerable people and keep Council land out of the hands of greedy developers so it benefits the residents.



Do you need it? I there a better option?

For example, rather than paying over the odds and contributing to plastic waste by getting individually portioned things, buy the big block of cheese and just use a damn knife!

Do you really need 17 different types of cleaning product? White vinegar, vodka, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, water and essential oils will clean and sanitize pretty much anything, without sending toxic chemicals into the water supply or adding to the plastic waste mountain.

I’ll share my recipes on later blogs.

Could you switch to a soap bar instead of a liquid in a plastic bottle? Again, it’s easy and a bit of messy fun to make your own soaps, too.

I’m yet to perfect a recipe for a shampoo bar, but there are plenty of good ones on the market. They work well and last longer – I’d never go back to bottle shampoo after using bars. It takes your hair some time to get used to, remember to lather it in your hands and use the lather instead of rubbing the bar over your hair directly and you can’t go far wrong.  They do foam up better if you have softer water (bit of an issue in Bristol with our water coming from the limestone of the Mendips. Bristol is the place kettles come to die!)

What can you do?

Before buying your usual brand out of habit, are there better options? Do you even need it (saving yourself money, too)? Or can you make it yourself?


Make Your Own

Get better at making it yourself. There are so many thing you can do at home instead of buying from the shop.

Plus homemade food is better tasting and healthier, without all those yucky preservatives excess salt, sugar and MSG.

There are lots of things you can do yourself. Try a few:

  • Bake your own bread
  • Bake cakes, pastries and biscuits
  • Make your own cleaning products (it’s a lot simpler than you’d think)
  • Deodorant – here’s my recipe (it really works)
  • Soap – you don’t have to make it from scratch, there are melt and pour bases that make it really simple
  • Pasta – so simple. Just flour and water or flour and egg for a richer non-vegan version.

Get yourself a good recipe book or cruise around on Pinterest then have some fun in the kitchen.

I recently purchased this book and I love it. The freezer cookies are a particular favourite in the Morse house.


Grow your own

This could be a whole other website! There are plenty of tips and great books out there to help you get to grips with growing your own food. Even if you don’t have outdoor space you can still grow your own salad veg, microgreens or herbs on a windowsill.

If you love a book (which I do) here are some of my favouites. I’ve read and loved and acted on all of these books:

Monty Don Complete Garden book
(I’m still reading this one. I do love Monty Don)


Take Action – Sign and share this petition:  Plastic waste (

The evidence is mounting that less plastic is what consumers want. It really is about time the supermarkets started listening to their consumers. I’m doing my year without supermarkets experiment is because I don’t think they are doing enough right now and as a small business mentor I passionately believe we should be spending more of our money locally with local people and supporting our friends, neighbours and local community. Building wealth in our communities.

Your pound has power. Vote with it by being a savvy and ethical consumer.

Write to them.

Social Media shame them.

Return your plastic waste to them.

You don’t have to be as extreme as I have been during this year long experiment, but you can make a difference, if enough of us vote with our wallets!



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