Plastic Free July Week 2: Awkward Shopping Hero

The second week of July has seen again some victories and defeats in the quest to go plastic free…

The week started off not quite as desired as a parcel arrived on Monday from my parents. They recently went on an Austria trip and visited a dairy I remember they always buy cheese from. I remember it was so tasty that I requested some to be sent to me; it arrived Monday, packed in several layers of shrink wrap.

Oops. Am I a hypocrite now…? I don’t know anymore myself.

On Thursday, we went for our first “big” grocery shop this July. We went to the Farmers Market first to see if we could get any unpackaged produce. We did indeed find lots of loose veggies and fruit, but in a surprising twist the farmer insisted sticking his fruit in some plastic bags. He actually insisted even after I told him my bags would just be fine. I couldn’t even look as fast as he scooped it into the bag. What a beautifully unexpected defeat that was! We took the bags then, otherwise he would have probably put them straight into the trash…

Nonetheless, at the next stand I was determined to not let this happen again. When I was offered another bag (just to carry a carton of eggs), I stayed strong and refused. The guy who sold them gave a reply that we seem to hear every time we refuse plastic bags: “We don’t charge for them.” (There is a 5p plastic bag charge in Scotland).

YES, BUT I don’t care about paying for them. I don’t want them! When I told the guy that, he only smiled and then took the eggs out of the bag. I’m still puzzled as to what that smile meant…

We then made our way into the supermarket… Plastic free hell! Although I vowed to stay strong, it was really hard not to break with plastic-freeness (okay we did actually break it… more on that later). Did I mention thanks to the challenge we are basically forced to eat lacto-vegetarian? Not that that is a particularly bad thing. It’s the fact that we have no other choice in this matter that’s annoying. Even the deli counter has every cheese and ham wrapped in plastic! I mentioned it earlier, but there is no bulk shops around, and no dairies with glass bottles to find. That’s the reason we decided to exclude milk and butter from the challenge. Fair enough if I can’t have crisps due to Plastic-free July. But I don’t want to go entirely vegan just now. (And most importantly, I want to be able to eat my breakfast, and not having to spread oil on my sandwich).

Did I say I was hopeless when it comes to food? 😉 So, we left the store with only two items packed in plastic, which was some olive oil spread (= ‘butter’) and some sausage (sorry!).

Regardless of the frustration when you enter a supermarket, we made our way into another one and I sent my boyfriend ahead to go all the way into awkwardness for me and ask to get our meat packed into our own container. This time, we actually, thankfully, had a very nice guy who served us, and who didn’t mind doing it for us. What a relief!

Finally, on Saturday, we had our annual sports games in our home town, with a fun fair and plenty of entertainment and food. And all the waste there was! I’m not talking about the actual sports competitions, but the fun fair and everything related. My boyfriend was close to try himself at darts for a laugh, but decided it would probably be money down the drain if none of us actually wants to have the price you can win. Besides, we have a dart board at home, just need to hang it up, and it’s free.

What did I take away from this week?

At times, Plastic Free July is really, really frustrating. It’s not (only) because you cannot get certain plastic free produce (it is annoying, but I can deal with that). It’s the fact that around here, people make you feel so awkward when trying to refuse the plastic. Conversations with different people reveal time in time again that people think you’re making things complicated; that you’re a bit weird; that you cannot go plastic-free anyway, so why try? Even people who sympathise with your efforts tell you how awkward you are with your special plastic-free wishes. ‘Why can’t you just buy it the way it is and not be complicated about it?’

Maybe because it’s stupid to wrap something in a piece of plastic which took weeks to be produced and used up oil resources people fight over and is shipped across countries, just so you immediately throw it out on a mountain of trash which will still not be degraded by the time your great-grandchildren die; or worse, poison nature and kill hundreds of animals who don’t know better than to eat what’s colourful!? All for the sake of your apples not bruising? (irony mode on) Because bruised apples immediately become toxic (irony mode off). For your interest, world: they still bruise inside a plastic bag.

It’s like directly manufacturing pollution, with the ever so brief detour of us wrapping our shopping in it.

Yeah, you get my frustration. I had to get rid of that. Maybe next week will be better.

I don't know who made this, but it's so true it hurts.

I don’t know who made this, but it’s so true it hurts.


2 thoughts on “Plastic Free July Week 2: Awkward Shopping Hero

  1. thingio says:

    Haha, I know! Servers, especially at the supermarket, are in robot-mode when it comes to packing peoples’ things. It seems to irritate them rather than annoy them when you come along and break their routine. It’s good though that others like you give your digital support!


  2. Candice says:

    It can be really awkward when I tell cashiers that I do not want plastic bags, and to just put everything in my cloth bags. They still try to put the produce and meat in plastic bags anyway! It can be really frustrating, but I insist that I do not want ANY plastic. Sometimes being the weird one in a group in a good thing, especially when you are the one trying to help the planet 🙂 Great post


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