Thursday, 6 March 2008

Popping over to Waitrose (with my reusable bags)

I know that I've been promoting Independent Shops lately and I still stand by my convictions to support our local traders as part of my Zero Waste challenge. However yesterday, despite it being market day I chose to pop over to Waitrose.

I was in a rush and having hurt my back recently I needed the support of the trolley to carry the weight of the shopping, so a quick visit to my favourite supermarket fitted the bill nicely. I still managed to do the shop successfully with limited packaging (hoorah)...and (no doubt much to your relief)... this is where this particular monotonous tale ends.

What is much more interesting is that I also popped over to Waitrose's Managing Director's blog, where Mark Price posts regularly about work, family and his healthy eating plan.

One of his latest posts is very interesting indeed, where just a couple of days ago he discussed the issue of banning/taxing plastic bags.

I deliberately kept quiet about this topic when it hit the headlines last week as it holds little relevance to me. Although I am glad to see the country wake up to the disposable plastic lifestyle that we all take for granted, I regard plastic bags as just the thin layer of landfill icing that sits on a huge stodgy cake of unrecycled packaging, disposable products and food waste.

So it was highly pertinent to read Mark Price's thoughts on the whole plastic bag thing and I agree with him that aside from plastic bags, the country needs to address "the much bigger issue of resource management".

In his post, Mr Price offers the following facts: "Domestic household waste represents 9% of all UK waste, compared to 32% construction and demolition and 29% mining and quarrying. Packaging in general represents 25% of household waste, with carrier bags themselves representing just 0.3% of household waste".

When you look at things this way, it is possible to dig deep into the layers of landfill that the country creates and see the benefit of giving one's life a gradual makeover, changing habits that go beyond the notorious plastic bags, just as I have done with the Zero Waste challenge. However, I draw the line at quarrying for my own stone and building my own house, you will be relieved to hear.

What was real music to my ears is Mark Price's statement towards the end of his post, where he confirms that Waitrose "will continue to recycle plastic carriers returned from our customers but keep our real focus on the big issues of packaging and food waste, sustainability and health and well being".

Now that is fantastic! I don't know much about the other supermarkets but I hope that the "giants" in particular Asda, Sainbury's and Tesco are doing the same. They've signed up to the Courtauld Commitment, with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging and rubbish that ends up in our bins, so progress is hopefully going in the right direction. According to RecycleNow, supermarkets and producers are making great in-roads. However the latest news is that as a result of reducing primary packaging that sits on the shelves, in certain cases there has been an increase in the packaging used to transport the goods.

Oh dilemmas, dilemmas! What a complicated world we live in! It just goes to show that managing packaging is not easy, whether you're a consumer at home or whether you run a huge national supermarket chain.

Anyway, I thought I would share the details that I happened to email Mark Price's office last weekend, politely inviting him to comment on packaging on his blog. A personal message goes our to Mr Price to thank him for doing that. Whether his comments are as a result of my cheeky email or simply just a happy coincidence, I am just pleased to hear that my regular supermarket is looking at the bigger picture and taking the right action, which makes me a happier customer indeed.

You can read Mark Price's post To Ban or Not to Ban at The Grocer's Blog:



Jason Dittle said...

hey! here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra $800 last month, checkit out... the site is here

Jason Dittle said...

hey! here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra $800 last month, checkit out... the site is here

James said...

My complements, I like you blog. It's a great idea doing the zero waste challenge. And you've taught me a lot about waste issues along the way.

I'm just a bit gutted that it all ends in a couple of weeks :( Will the blog continue in another form?


Hi James - great to read to read your comments and welcome to the blog. I'm so glad I've been able to share the experience.

I share your thoughts about it ending in a few weeks time, but somehow I don't think there will be an end to me talking rubbish. Watch this space, while I mull over a few ideas and how to carry the blog forward. I think it will be very exciting ;-D

Hi Jason - I've said this before. Please don't spam my site and please please don't spam it twice!

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