The cost of plastic-free grocery shopping

(it's not just about the money!)

Posted by Breaking Thirty on February 15, 2019

Decreasing the consumption of plastic is what I have decided to be my New Year’s resolution. After cutting down on the plastic in my bathroom cabinet, now it’s time to cut down the plastic into my the kitchen. Both fridge and pantry, just to make the challenge a little bit more… challenging.

Oh.my.God.

Lemons

Have you every strolled around a supermarket with a “plastic-free” mindset? I did it. Multiple times. And it’s terrifying. EVERYTHING is wrapped in plastic. Starting with fruit and vegetables. Broccoli, tomatoes, salad, cucumber, net-packaged oranges and lemons, packaged-free bananas with the sticky label made of… plastic. And the fruit and vegetables that are the most wrapped up are especially the organic ones, which is crazy if you think about it.

Luckily, they recently opened a new plastic-free grocery store that is right next to the supermarket I usually go to, on my way home. Perfect! This means that I can easily make it to get rid of plastic in my kitchen. I’m so so blessed that this shop is right on my way home from work. Well, that’s actually my way home on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays I go to the gym and the way home is another one. That’s not a problem, I can easily get organised to do the groceries either on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

I read that it takes about 21 days to get a new habit ingrained in your routine. That means I have three weeks to get used to the fact that either on Tuesday or on Wednesday I have to bring some empty jars with me to work to then be able to shop. Pfff… This is really going to be a piece of cake and three weeks is way too long for a focused and disciplined gal like me!

Calendar

WEEK 1. I’m the Queen of consistency and a pro inside. I’m sure I can nail this habit by the end of this first week!

Tuesday #1. Wake up, go through my morning routine, get ready for work, go to work. Damn it! I forgot the jars at home. And even my tissue-shopping bag. Now it’s too late to walk back home to get them. And no: buying a 8 Euro-worth jar and 15 Euro-worth bag at the shop is really not an option. There’s no way I can do the grocery shopping today. Ok no problem. Do not beat yourself up, Giulia. Be proactive instead. You can prepare the shopping bag with the four empty jars right next to your bag for work. So you won’t forget it tomorrow morning. Yes, let’s do that!

Wednesday #1. Wake up, go through my morning routine, get ready for work, go to work. Damn it! I left the shopping bag with inside the jars at home. Again! I didn’t see it when I picked my bag for work. Oh come on, how couldn’t I see it?! Ok. Ok, ok, ok. Noooo panic. No blaming anybody here. There’s next week. I can still do good.

Jars

WEEK 2. I admit it wasn’t that easy to get this habit nailed by the end of first week. Even a Queen of Consistency like me can have troubles introducing new habits in her life sometimes. Week 2 will be my week. I feel it.

Tuesday #2. Wake up, go through my morning routine, get ready for work, grab the shopping bag with the four empty jars from the handler of the door (so proud of myself that I figured this trick last night!), go to work. Walk to work with the four jars hitting each other inside the bag and making a lot of noise. People looking at me because of this noise and wondering what’s going on with me. Pretend I hear nothing and that it’s all in their head. Look straight in front of me and keep walking. Work. Work, work, work. Lunch. Work, work, work, work. Work. It’s 7:32pm and I feel so tired I can’t even talk. I guess it’s the right time to go to the plastic-free shop. Go to the plastic-free shop. Arrive at the plastic-free shop at 7:43pm. It’s closed. What? All other supermarkets close at 10:00pm. I didn’t expect the hipster plastic-free shop to be open until that late, but at least until 8pm… Walk home wondering how other people with a job, especially those with also a family (and maybe a dog), manage to get to the plastic-free shop on time…

Wednesday #2. Wake up, go through my morning routine, get ready for work, grab the shopping bag with the four empty jars hanging from the handler of the door, go to work. Walk to work with the four jars hitting each other inside the bag and making a lot of noise. People looking at me because of this noise and wondering what’s going on with me. Pretend I hear nothing and that’s all in their head. Look straight in front of me and keep walking. Work. Work… not so much work. Lunch. Wouuups I’m getting a little distracted here. It’s ok, it’s ok. I got so much work done yesterday that I can afford a less productive day today. Oh, it’s 4pm and my brain in back on track. Work, work, work, I’m doing just one last thing… and another one last thing because I’m in the flow… Gosh it’s 5:36pm and I have to run home because I have German class today and my German teacher is, well, German and, therefore, ahead of time! I can’t pass by the plastic-free shop. Run home, run home. Damn it! This is the second week I fail. Run home. Damn it! Run home, run home, run home. Those stupid jars and their stupid noise. And the faster I walk, the louder the noise. People look at me thinking I have a problem. I can’t dissimulate this time because I also believe I have a problem. Run home, run home. Arrive home at 5:56pm. German teacher rings the bell at 5:57pm. Learn German.

Pasta

WEEK 3. Giulia. We have to talk. The past two weeks have been a disaster. But you are the Queen of consistency who can integrate a new habit (or a new obsession) in a matter of days. In the past two weeks you didn’t achieve your goal but you still figured out how to not forget the jars at home. So that’s ok. You have an entire next week to nail the plastic-free grocery shopping. And that’s more than enough time.

Tuesday #3. Wake up, go through my morning routine, get ready, grab the shopping bag hanging from the handler of the door, go to work. Walk to work with the four jars hitting each other inside the bag and making a lot of noise. People looking at me because of all that noise and wondering what’s going on with me. Pretend I hear nothing and that’s all in their head. Look straight in front of me and keep walking. Work. Work, work, work. Work, work. (Uh, apparently Tuesday is my most productive day!) Lunch. Work. Friend texts: “Cafè Hess at 7pm tonight?” Of course I’m not going to Cafè Hess tonight, I have to go to the plastic-free shop and Cafè Hess is on the other side of the city! How come people don’t know I’m on a mission and ask you to go out on a random Tuesday night? I’m just gonna pass… But I really like Cafè Hess. And I haven’t seen my friend for the past two weeks. I really would like to see my friend while eating a nice beef-filet and sipping some red wine. Grab my phone and text him: “Of course, see you there!”. Walk to Cafè Hess. Enjoy the evening with my friend. Walk home, happy for my night out and for the fact that I proved to myself that I still have a life. The hitting jars don’t even burden me anymore…

Eggs

Wednesday #3. Ok Giulia. This is your last chance. Take a deep breath and… Wake up, morning routine, get ready, grab the shopping bag and-you-know-what’s-inside-and-where-it’s-hanging-from-don’t-need-to-specify-it, go to work. Walk, walk, walk. And NO, I don’t hear any noise! And NO, I’m not crazy! And YES, if you ever tried to save this planet you wouldn’t stare at me like that! Work, work, work. Lunch. Work. Leave the office at 5pm so I have enough time to do the shopping and be home at 6pm for the German class. Arrive at the plastic-free shop. Grab the first jar and pour in chia seeds. Weight it and write down the weight. Grab the second jar and pour in walnuts. Weight it and write down the weight. Grab the third jar and… Where are the almonds? Ah ok, they arrive next week. And can you tell me where I can find buckwheat? Oh, next week as well. But they have organic free-range eggs from happy chickens! I’ll take six of them. And they have fresh milk in a bottle made of glass. Great, I don’t drink milk but I’m so enthusiastic that I take one too. So chia seeds, walnuts, six eggs, milk… 17,62 Euro. Uh-oh,17.62 Euro and I can’t cook a meal out of it?!

Walk home. Wonder how “normal people with a job, a family and maybe a dog” can afford go shopping there, given the organisation of the jars, the stringent opening hours, the poor availability of the food and the non-sensible prices. Walk home, walk home. Probably they don’t. I don’t have a family, a dog, nor organisation and motivation issues… I only have a job (and a lot of obsessions!). That’s why it’s maybe fair that I take this on me, even if it almost makes me crazy. Walk home, walk…

Almonds

No no no no! Wait a minute. Just because I don’t have a family, or a dog, or motivation issues it doesn’t mean that my free time is worth less or that it has to be UNSUSTAINABLE! Walk to the supermarket, walk to the supermarket (you remember it’s on my way home?). Grab the almonds (wrapped up in a plastic bag) and the buckwheat (wrapped up in a paper bag… with a little window in plastic to see the inside) and pay. Few euros. Good! Walk home, walk home, walk home.

Quote Zizek

And what about you? Have you ever felt that you must be the one taking on something because of your time, money, status, or capabilities? Let me know in the comments below. If you want to read more about all the other stuff I feel in charge to do because I have what can be regarded as a “half-life”, then I encourage you to subscribe to the Breaking Thirty Newsletter for more awesome blog posts.

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