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Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Food packaging can come from various reasons. So first identify what exactly is your issue, then find the solution you need: it might be to do a bit more cooking (it can remain simple!), to use your own containers when buying food, and to even buy in bulk. This can be a bit tedious, especially in the beginning, when we are not organised to do so. But if your neighbourhood includes bulk or zero waste shops and butchers/ fishmongers/restaurants that accept to use your containers, you can set up a routine that helps reduce your food packaging, and gets you to know more of your neighbourhood. If you do not have these local opportunities, then there is just so much you can do, but you could try to influence local shops in changing their own habits.


Start by identifying your food packaging issue


Where is the packaging coming from?

  • Ready-made food from supermarkets, take-away food? You might be buying lunch from shops and eat in your office/in the park, and get food delivered in the evening at home. That usually means LOTS of packaging.

  • Ingredients that come wrapped in plastic or paper – such as cookies, crisps, bread, cereals, or even fruits and vegs?

Solutions depend on the issue. Here are a few solutions you can try.


To avoid meal delivery, stock up your pantry


Make sure there are some easy, quick-fix meals to use when tired or in a hurry. Here are three examples of recipes that need no fresh ingredients.

Cupboard Pasta!

Pasta + tomatoes in cans + olive oil + capers or black olives and/or tinned tuna.

Cupboard Houmous!

Mix a jar/tin of chickpeas, some tahini; add some lemon, smoked paprika and olive oil. Taste as you go to adjust the quantities and get what you like.

Cupboard Risotto!

Arborio rice + dried mushrooms (ideally cep, rehydrate them and keep the water to cook the rice) + white wine + onions for a risotto + parmigiano + olive oil + stock.


Make food from scratch or eat in rather than take away


Cooking from scratch is the key, and agreed, not always feasible. Do your best! Use Internet and swap ingredients based on what is available in your pantry.

Finding recipes that match the content of your fridge/pantry:

  • Ecosia (the green Google) the name of the 2 to 3 ingredients you want to use, add “recipe” and get cooking ideas.

  • Riverford recipes

  • Riverford veg hacks – simple tricks on video to make the most out of vegs.

If you can’t cook, rather than home delivery, can you bring your own containers and take away food or why not eat in the restaurant?


Bring your own containers… even for take away food.


Get vegs and fruits boxes delivered to your door, but choose suppliers that reduce the packaging. Riverford is one of the oldest fully organic, box service around, and they gave a lot of thought to their packaging to reduce it as much as possible. They even offer recipe boxes, including low-plastic meals, in contrast to other recipe boxes which can have a lot of packaging.

Buy from butchers, fishmonger, and deli counters in supermarkets, and ask to use your own containers. They might say they can’t. But if many people ask, they might change. The sushi counter at Waitrose used to refuse clients' containers and now accept them.

Ask take-away restaurants to fill in your containers. Choja sushi on Lavender Hill accepts to use containers brought by customers. The more we ask, the more they’ll accept.


Buy in bulk


Buy in bulk and bring your own containers at zero waste shops, such as the Source on Battersea Rise, or get bulk items delivered to your door with returnable containers with shops such as the Good Club. Their offering is growing by the day, and it is likely that more shops will be offering refillable/reusable solutions soon.

  • The Source: bulk shop for dried food and household items – on Battersea Rise. Also does click and collect and deliveries.

  • The Good Club: bulk, refillable (and traditional) options, for dried food, drinks, household and beauty – deliveries only, with monthly subscription.

  • Milk and More: Dairy and nut milk, fruit juices – and shampoo, washing up liquid, and more, in returnable/reusable glass bottles.

Coffee: use loose coffee in bulk, swap for French presses, Italian coffee makers, aeropresses, with stainless steel filters. Refuse disposable coffee filters (which are compostable but tend to be wrapped in plastic) or coffee pods.

Tea: Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer. Pyramid-shaped tea bags have risen in popularity over the past few years, but these bags are often plastic and cannot be composted and are not biodegradable.

And always:

  • Carry re-usable shopping bags and just don’t use produce bags.

  • Filter your home water rather than buying disposable water bottles.


Recycle what's left


If you have to go with packaging, choose options with less and recyclable packaging. Remember you can check what get recycled here.

Coffee: companies like Keurig and Nespresso have introduced recyclable pods.

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