Category Archives: Reduce

Keeping packaging free back at work

Holiday is over and I’ve been back at work for two weeks now, but junk free January continues…

I’ve managed to stay packaging free, but this has involved quite a lot of use of cafes for lunch, so far. Rather than buying some packaged food, I’ll either sit down in the cafe (hardly a hardship, it’s very relaxing), or take my lunch box along and ask if I could have the food in that. They take us out for lunch at work quite a lot too which is excellent!

People have been surprisingly ok with the lunch box, and my regular places now don’t raise an eyebrow. I’ll definitely keep on with this after January. It feels really good not to have a pile of plastic & card containers going into the bin, take away work lunches were one of the biggest causes of junk in my life.

One big change is the lack of lack of black tea at work. We have a regular tea round, maybe 4 or 5 a day, and though I love herbal tea, it’s not the same. I hadn’t realised how big a role milky tea plays in stopping me getting hungry. However, it’s good to cut down on caffine a bit, and rosebud tea, lemon verbena tea and green tea from Food for All are delicious.

Outside of work, I’ve been having muesli with rhubarb, baking apple, ginger & raisin puree instead of milk for breakfast, and baking a bunch of potatoes on the weekends as the basis for quick & easy evening meals when I traipse home late.

Yesterday was a big baking day – potatoes, rhubarb concoction, and a Jamie Oliver recipe for blackened aubergines (cook whole in the over for an hour, scoop out the middles and mix with cumin, garlic, lemon, oil etc, to make a topping). Also got hold of some fish from a fishmonger using my trusty lunchbox.

Highlight of the weekend was getting hold of loose cocoa nibs from Mother Earth in Newington Green – they are as addictive as chocolate and I highly recommend them!




Bathroom Products

I’ve been having a think about how we can find unpackaged products for things like shampoo and conditioner. I’m hoping to find similar things which are made locally, but as a back-up I’ve seen that Lush do some excellent looking solid products like shampoo bars. Here is their Jason and the Argan Oil 

They also do solid conditioners like this Jungle conditioner. We could also use natural alternatives like eggs, avocado, and banana, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Solid deodorants  are on their menu too, but I’m probably going to continue using the alum crystal deodorant which I already use. I just might have to think of a creative way of sourcing it.

Lush even sell solid toothpaste (but these come in a recycled and recycleble/compostable box) Like these Chou Chou I Love You’s

I think I’m going to make my own toothpaste though to make it truly package-free, if I can find somewhere which sells loose bicarbonate of soda.

Hats off to Lush however for doing a good range of package-free products.


Package-Free Supermarket in Germany.

Junkless food in Germany proves popular. Original Unverpackt founders Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski. Photograph: Unverpackt (in the Guardian)

I was pleased to read this Guardian article about a Supermarket in Germany, founded by Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski, which sells produce to customers without any packaging at all. People bring their own containers which are weighed at the start, and a label is stuck on them to indicate their weight, so it can be deducted from the final weight of the product at the checkout.

The article highlights that these schemes seem to be marketed to the richer echelons of society. In my opinion there is no need for this. Selling produce in this way should be cheaper. The reduced costs can be passed on to the final consumer. Just think how many middle-men are missed out. No need for expensive packaging, design teams, marketing people etc. The product sells itself by its quality.

Let’s get back to using our own senses to determine how good a product is.

How does it look?

How does it smell?

How does it taste?

Don’t let the vampiric advertising people take your power away.

Starting to Think About the Practicalities.

Foraging is a great way to cut down on packaging.
Foraging is a great way to cut down on packaging.

Okay, so this is still a new idea for us, but I’ve started to think of ways to make it work. I’m very fortunate to live in Devon where there is a lot of local produce available unpackaged, so although this is going to be tricky, I’m thinking it will at least be possible.

There is a shop in my local town of Kingsbridge called “Save a Packet” The shop has been there for 20 years and I believe its aim is to sell food cheaply by dispensing of the expensive packaging and advertising which wraps up most of our foods. You can also buy exactly the amount of produce you want, thereby reducing food waste. I imagine that I will source much of my food stuff, and other household products from here.

Various healthfood shops near me sell Ecover products which you can fill up your own containers with, so washing up liquid and clothes washing stuff can be eco friendly too.

Cheese etc can come from deli counters. Hopefully they’ll be open to me bringing my own containers to take them away in.

I don’t wear makeup and don’t even use face products except for occasional argan oil if my skin is feeling especially dry, or French green clay if it needs a bit of an overhaul. I’m thinking I’ll probably just have to forego these luxuries unless I can think of another way of sourcing them, or an alternative solution.

For deodorant I use natural alum crystal. I normally order this online, but I need to think of a way of getting some to me without packaging. I’ll hunt in Totnes, which is a hub of natural products.

It occurred to me last night that toothpaste is going to be tricky. I have tried these horrible sticks before. I have no doubt about their antiseptic properties because they taste so vile. I might have to revisit them, as I’m told you can get used to it and it would dispose of the need to think of a toothbrush/paste solution. Other than that, I might consider bicarbonate of soda, or research what else might be good.

Foraging! One of the best ways to save both money and packaging. I am very fortunate to live in the countryside where I can easily forage for stuff. January probably isn’t the best time for that, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something and I still have some fruit in the freezer from autumn.

Eggs can come from our 3 lovely chickens.

So, I think what I need to do is much more research. I’ll also need to warn various shops that I’m going to be in regularly stocking up from them, but that I’ll be bringing my own containers. I’m sure they’ll get used to me over the month!

My fellow challengee will be doing her challenge from London. I don’t know if that will be harder or easier. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m excited! Life is suddenly like a game.