The food issue
When I ditched plastic, I had to ditch a few other things as well: Convenience food, ready meals, nibbly stuff like chips, gummi bears, lollies and all kinds of cookies and chocolates. Thanks to that, my plastic-free life has neither turned out to be unhealthier nor more expensive than my life before, which makes it easier to stick to this sort of ”packaging diet”.
What’s on the menu?
As I can still buy all veg and fruit (markets and turkish shops are the best options here) and staples like pasta (Barilla sells them in cardboard and there is not even a little plastic “window”), rice and bread relatively easily, but I can hardly consume things like ready made sauces, deep frozen pizzas, instant noodles, chips or cookies anymore, my diet has actually improved and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything vital. So I basically just cut out highly processed food and cook more from scratch. It does involve a bit of planning, as I have to go on a relatively big trip to get certain ingredients like cream, legumes or unpackaged herbs. But this hasn’t annoyed me too much so far, as I always try to combine it with something I have to do on the way.
BYO in the supermarket
What works really well is just bringing my own plates or containers to deli counters. That way I can still buy cheese (the one in the supermarkte shelves always comes in plastic packets, sometimes with several layers of plastic to divide the individual slices), antipasti stuff and yummy dips like hummus. Sometimes they just give me the price tag and I carry it in my hands, sometimes they put it on my container and have a bit of a friendly, but confused laugh. It has happened several times that I got into a really interesting conversation with shop assistants and they always seemed curious. Quite often they could even help me find a certain plastic-free product in another place. It might sound stupid and a bit too simple, but I found out I just have to ask for alternatives, for things without foil and additional packaging. Unfortunately that was something I just didn’t ever do before, but now I know it’s always worth a try. That way the supermarkets, shop or deli owners also get customer feedback and might think about their packaging methods.
BYO when getting take-out
On Wednesday I went to one of my favourite Lebanese places with a friend and we just brought our own plates, as they normally use a lot of different plastic containers. My friend told the guy behind the counter about „the experiment“ and he didn’t even give us a weird look. I do recall the curious look from a young couple though that came in just when we wanted to carry the plates out and I started to feel a little giggly. So far I had quite a few good laughs about the ”I bring my own plates/containers” method. And the shop owners don’t mind it either – and why would they, they’re saving money!
Lesson learned: Bringing my own plates and containers solves a lot of problems. And avoiding plastic doesn’t mean no more good food. It often means less bad food!
By the way, I will put together a list of how to avoid unneccessary packaging soon! Will keep you updated!