Whether it be the supermarket down the road, the local farmers market or the speciality store there is always someone that likes food shopping and someone that doesn’t. I never minded our weekly trip to the supermarket, but my husband found it a chore and always rushed us, so he could leave as quickly as possible.
We live in the heart of the city with no car, so grocery shopping was typically dictated by what was convenient and close. The large supermarket around the corner was the go to for our weekly shop. It had all your standard produce and products one comes to expect of a supermarket – it was easy, convenient, but definitely not package or plastic free!
Enjoying the sea breeze and the view | Rangitoto Island
Shopping for food without packaging or even plastic is hard – the need for convenience seems to lead to everything being in some form of packaging. Sometimes it makes sense, but often it is unnecessary and even just plain stupid – I’m sure you’ve all seen the picture of peeled bananas on a glad wrapped tray (why?! It literally comes in its own packaging!!). We found that it was possible to get most of your fruit and vegetable package free from our local supermarket, but there is the odd thing that still comes in plastic (such as cherry tomatoes) and we would still see people stuffing their fresh produce into the plastic bags. Meat was our main issue – while most meat trays now days are recyclable, the cling wrap over the top is not and ends up in landfill. We also found it virtually impossible to buy your bulk items in anything but plastic packaging.
Since starting our journey of sustainability, our main requirement for every food shop is to avoid plastics and as much packaging as possible. For us this meant saying goodbye to the supermarket around the corner and finding an alternative. Over the past six months, we have visited multiple supermarkets/grocers to find the ones that would best fit our needs. Our criteria? It needed to be easily reachable without a car, offer package free fresh produce, dairy and meat and fit into our lifestyle and not become a chore. It took a while, but we finally managed to find a solution that catered for (most) of our needs.
Store front of Good Grocer (there are a few items in plastic but we avoid those).
The Good Grocer in Kohimarama is your 7 days a week local farmers market - “Honest, simple, locally sourced goodness.” The fresh fruit and vegetables are from their own farm or sourced from a local grower they know well. They sell the ugly fruit and veggies to stop it going to waste, which I love as I always try pick the ugly ones to stop this from happening. Their meat is from farms that have sustainable farming practices, where the animals roam freely, and it’s all package free. The bread is traditionally made, always fresh and delicious and did you know they have gelato!
This is now our local! Every other weekend we gather our reusable bags, produce bags and containers, jump on the bus and head out to Kohi. Now, this might sound like it’s out of our way and a pain to get to, but we’ve found that the whole process is far more enjoyable than going to the supermarket. For starters, the bus winds its way along Auckland’s beautiful waterfront which in itself is very relaxing. There’s also a great little café next to the grocer which we will often go to for a coffee or even brunch, relaxing at the outdoor tables overlooking the beach with a view out to Rangitoto Island. I am always excited about our trip to the Good Grocer and not only because I can get everything we need without the unnecessary packaging.
Almost 100% package free food shop.
The fresh produce fills our reusable produce bags, we get the bread in a paper bag which I reuse or recycle (I really need a bread bag, maybe I’ll make one) and the butcher ever so kindly tares the weight of our reusable containers before adding the meat. Occasionally we will get cheese, which yes is still in plastic wrap - finding a place where I can get cheese plastic free is high on my to do list.
We also frequent our local farmer’s market (literally a 3 minute walk from home) each weekend – while it’s small and doesn’t have the range to cater for all our requirements, we find it really useful to top up on fresh fruit and veges which are package free and sourced locally.
So no, it might not be as convenient as going to the supermarket around the corner, but for the sake of the planet, I find shopping package free much more rewarding and enjoyable. Hubby also finds our new approach far less of a chore and more of an adventure - I’m pretty sure he even secretly enjoys it. Next time I might stop for a gelato!