Why is it important to reduce our food packaging waste?
According to the Unwrapped report, the average person throws away more than 30kg of plastic packaging per person per year. Lots of food packaging (like that used to package pasta or rice) is not readily recyclable which means it ends up in landfill or polluting oceans and this is simply not sustainable. Someone who feels incredibly passionate about food packaging waste is Bunmi Scott, the founder of It’s All About You, an online eco store who also have a physical store in Dronfield, Derbyshire. [AD – For full transparency I was gifted some items but was under no obligation to post and these are entirely my own opinions]
“Food packaging, like that used for everyday items such as pasta, rice, noodles, sweets and so on will never decompose. I recently saw a post of an empty sandwich packet from 20 years ago. It’s just heart-breaking; we need to do more for our kids.”Bunmi Scott of It’s All About You
Why use an online refill shop?
Using a refill shop or service eliminates the need for waste. If you don’t have a refilling service nearby, or the opening hours aren’t convenient, using an online service, like It’s All About You is an ingenious way to reduce plastic use. Over the last few months I’ve become increasingly keen to reduce my plastic waste, but still haven’t got into the regular habit of using a refill service. There are various options available across Derbyshire, many of which I covered in a previous blog post here. In Chesterfield, there is Steph’s Sustainable Stuff on the market but if you’re not already in town anyway, do the environmental benefits of reducing plastic waste justify making a journey? It’s a bit of a conundrum, but I can definitely see the convenience and environmental merits of using an online service. Particularly if your daily routines don’t readily coincide with a refill service.
“If the big supermarkets won’t act, then we need to.”Bunmi Scott, It’s All About You
I would love to see supermarkets taking a more proactive role in helping us all reduce the waste we create. As consumers, if we have the time or inclination to put pressure on them to provide more environmentally friendly products, lobbying can work. But voting with your feet, and purse, will definitely make the big chains pay attention quickly.
I’ve written at length before about my love of shopping small – you can read why here – so if we can shop small and at the same time be more environmentally conscientiously, surely that’s win-win?
My own journey to reducing plastic use
At this point I feel I should confess that I am absolutely no angel on the food packaging waste front. In fact, I’ve probably been one of the worst offenders. I’m a caffeine fiend and I don’t always use a reusable cup. We have a weekly takeaway, we buy various convenience foods… many of which packaged in plastic that is either not recyclable or isn’t easy or hygienic to recycle. Be honest, how often do you wash the plastic tray your chicken breasts come in so that it can be recycled? So I’m definitely not writing this from an evangelical or puritan stance. But what I have started to do is be more mindful about what we consume as a household and whether we could be a bit greener.
A starting point for me was realising that I didn’t need to buy rice in those convenient microwave pouches. For years I’ve been telling myself that I couldn’t cook rice. What nonsense. A good google and actually following some advice online and lo and behold it turns out I am actually perfectly capable of cooking a basic staple food, just like millions of other people around the world. If you’re in the ‘can’t cook rice’ camp, I recommend the BBC Good Food page. We haven’t bought a microwave pouch since. I’m still mastering portion sizes, but we will get there. So I was feeling quite chuffed with myself… until I realised that the bags the uncooked rice come in aren’t easily recyclable. And actually to be truly environmentally friendly, I should be getting my rice from a refill place.
Once you get going it can be easy to wrap yourself in circles. Perhaps to be properly green I need to be growing my own organic potatoes? Personally I can’t see that happening any time soon. So I’ve decided to try and fight my unhelpful urge to be all or nothing about it. Instead, I’m just going to try to be better. Every little helps, right?
Review of It’s All About You’s online service
[AD] Bunmi kindly gifted me a range of food from her eco store, It’s All About You. However, these thoughts are entirely my own and I am under no obligation to post.
It’s All About You stocks a wide range of foods such as seeds, grains, dried fruit, pasta, rice, noodles, loose leaf tea, snacking goodies and much more. Most of the items are sold per 100g so you can buy as little or as much as you want, filling up your pantry with nourishing everyday foods that are naturally healthy. Admittedly, some of the products work out a bit more expensive than at a supermarket, but clever meal planning and not being seduced by convenience foods would probably off set this.
My order arrived quickly via Royal Mail and I was given a tracking number. It was carefully packed. Each item was packed in a clearly labelled brown paper bag, and the whole parcel was entirely plastic free.
I picked a range of items, from organic pasta and basmati rice, to popping corn and sugar free granola. Bunmi even stocks vegan and gluten free sweets, and my all-time favourite, Tony’s Chocolonely.
I was really pleased with the service and the quality of all the products. Every single thing I’ve tried so far has been better quality or the equivalent to what I would usually buy from the supermarket. I’ve also discovered a few new things. In particular, I’m looking forward to trying Bunmi’s recipe for vegan black bean burgers using the organic black turtle beans.
You could also combine your grocery shopping with any of the other eco friendly products that It’s All About You stock. I’ve written before about my love for their reusable make up remover pads, but there’s everything from sustainable leggings and plastic free sunglasses to eco friendly toys and books, and of course a full range of environmentally friendly toiletries and cleaning products. If you visit her physical store in Dronfield you can refill your own containers, or shop online and have it delivered anywhere in the UK.
Overall I was really impressed with It’s All About Eco. Bunmi is really lovely and provides such a great service, both to the residents of Dronfield and nationwide via her online service. The website is easy to navigate and the shipping costs are reasonable (starting at £2.95). It’s an excellent way to reduce your use of single use plastics and I would definitely recommend their online service if you don’t have a convenient refilling service near you.
Top Tips for Reducing Your Food Packaging Waste
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables
- Use a refill service such as It’s All About You online shop. If you’d rather shop locally, read about five other great Derbyshire options here
- Have milk delivered in reusable glass bottles
- Use re-usable water bottles and hot drinks cups
- Take your own shopping bags
- If food packaging is unavoidable, look for recyclable packaging (and ideally that is made from recycled materials) and avoid plastic
- Get organised. Make a meal plan and shopping list and only buy what you need.
- Generally ‘convenience’ foods tend to be more heavily packaged. Make from scratch when you can.
- Avoid cling film. Use Pyrex lids to reheat food in the microwave or invest in reusable bees wax wraps.