A starter's guide to bulk buying & cutting plastic | Melissa Hemsley
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My guide to Re-fill shops & cutting plastic


 Plastic Free Kitchen: My Starter’s Guide To Bulk Buying, Re-fill shops & Cutting Plastic

bulk buying melissa hemsley

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been trying to reduce the single-use plastic you bring into your kitchen but it can all feel so overwhelming – so much of our food comes in plastic! As time has passed, I’ve started to make small (not perfect) changes each day and I’m beginning to make a real dent in the amount of plastic I end up throwing in the bin.

I’ve written some starter tips on my journey to a plastic-free kitchen here so do have a look. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a start! 

One thing I find really useful is bulk buying. The benefits are huge.

If you like to eat, to save money, to reduce your plastic footprint, cut down on waste in general, support great people in your local community and generally feel like you’re making long-term positive life changes, then bulk buying is for you.

Here are some of my top pointers to get you bulk buying and reducing your plastic pollution, piece by piece. 

Start at home: raid your cupboards

Take a good look in your cupboards and think about what you tend to repeat buy. We’ve all got our favourite meals and trusted standbys on rotation so make a list of those ingredients that feature regularly. It can depend on the time of year too – right now I’m loving dahls and hearty satisfying salads, so I’m relying a lot more on beans and pulses. 

You could also spend an afternoon clearing out your cupboards (I’ve written some of my tops tips for that too) so you can get an idea of those ingredients you over-buy and never use. It’s also a great way to collate all those half-empty packets into clear jars – use this as a starting point to work out what you could use more or less of. 

Head to the shops: where do I bulk buy? 

Thankfully, there are more and more dedicated bulk-buy, plastic free & re-fillable supermarkets and zero waste shops popping up all over the UK and online that sell organic, fair trade and ethically sourced products. 

These are shops that allow you to bring your own containers or, if you forget, to use their recycled paper bags to weigh out what you want and just buy what you need.  The aim of the game is to reduce all unnecessary waste when we shop – especially single use plastic.

Shopping at farmer’s markets and signing up to veg box schemes online, like Riverford or Oddbox, are both great ways to shop for fresh produce without plastic.

Where are re-fill and zero waste shops near me?

To help you find your nearest, this amazing lady has done the mammoth task zerowastehome.com, so you can just put in your postcode and out pop your local bulk buy shops.  

5 staples that are great to buy in bulk

1. Dried chickpeas, lentils and grains. Stock up on red lentils (they cook in 18 minutes and are perfect for speedy suppers), as well as British-grown grain. 

2. Nuts and seeds – look out for freshly “churned” nut and seed butters.

3. Household cleaning and bathroom products. Refillable hand washes, shampoos, cleaning vinegars etc. Have you tried shampoo bars yet?!

4. Loose leaf teas. Some teabag brands have plastic in them. Look out for fairtrade tea and coffee too.

5. Extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

For more tips on reducing plastic pollution from your kitchen, plus 100 delicious, feel-good, flexitarian recipes for planet-friendly eating, order a copy of my new cookbook, EAT GREEN!


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