Today was both exciting and frustrating.
It was exciting because today I put two new resolutions into action: the first is to buy bread from the bakery to avoid the plastic bags supermarket brands come in, and the second is to bring my own containers to the butcher and get them to put the meat directly in, neatly avoiding polystyrene trays and the cling film wrapping. But both purchases had challenges.
Bread – going plastic free
We have been a Molenberg family for a long while, but since Molenberg don’t offer any alternative to plastic packaging, this had to change. I made my first Baker’s Delight wholemeal loaf purchase last weekend. They sliced it in their fancy slicer (‘sandwich slice please’) and were happy to wrap it in a paper bag, which I requested. In fact, I got the idea that a paper bags was the standard way of wrapping their bread. Result! It is very good bread to boot: a lovely firm crust and soft inside, the family were hooked. And at only $4 for a sizable loaf it is also good value. So when we used that last of the loaf at breakfast this morning, I put purchasing another loaf on my to do list for the day.
Today I requested the same wholemeal loaf and asked for it to be sliced, but kind of assumed it would come in paper and hence neglected to request a paper bag. And while I was busy eyeing up the twisty buns, the lady serving had efficiently sliced the loaf and popped it into a plastic bag. Gah! I belatedly explained that I was aiming to avoid plastic upon which she immediately offered to swap the plastic bag for a paper one. When questioned, she admitted she would not reuse the bag for another customer, but instead would throw it away. When she realised this was not going to make for a happy customer either, she resolved the problem by slicing me another loaf and wrapping it in a paper bag with the promise that she would be able to sell the plastic-wrapped one to another customer. She almost managed to put the loaf into a plastic carry bag too, but I stopped her in time. All done with a smile I must add. Well done Baker’s Delight.
Meat – going plastic-free
Buying meat has been one of my bugbears: how do you avoid all that plastic packing? And although New World has done a fantastic job in developing a completely recyclable meat tray, meat still comes with the inevitable cling wrap. What to do? I stumbled across the answer online: use freezable glass containers. Pyrex does a ‘Heat & Store’ range which is freezer safe glass with plastic lids, and are available at Briscoes. I went to Briscoes and ended up buying a couple of dishes made by the US company Anchor Hocking, who offer the same type product but with clear lids called TrueSeal Food Storage. And although the lids a plastic but I see this as saving many single-use plastics in its lifetime. I bought a couple of differing sizes to get me started.
So I turn up to the Aussie Butcher with my glass container and explain my plastic-avoidance preference to the lady serving. I ask for 10 sausages, and before I could stop her she has grabbed a plastic bag and headed out the back to get them. I suspect she found my subsequent remonstrations confusing and almost laughable, so I quickly accepted the offered bag, popped it in the container and promised myself I’d do better next time. At least I avoided the polystyrene tray.
The cause of frustration in both of these interactions was all me: I failed to adequately communicate my position and how I would like the product to be packaged. I have to confess that this is in part due to a level of self-consciousness: I’m aware I am bucking the trend, stepping away from what is considered to be normal, so I my requests did not come out as clearly as they should have.
I will get better at this. And the more I do it, the less self-conscious I will become.