Supermarkets: Making a Green Life Simpler?

Down & Out in Bristol with Plastic is all about how we as individuals can find ways of using less plastics in day to day life. One of the ways we’ve advocated is to shop at the grocers, places with food bins, and places where refillable alternatives to the usual single use option are offered. But, of course, sometimes the convenience of supermarkets fits in with a busy lifestyles. As it stands, most people shop in the supermarkets. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-operative, Lidl, Aldi all provide us with access to groceries in the same place, at times of day other shops may not be available. As much as we are responsible for the choices we make, those who present us the choices have some responsibility for the consequences of those choices. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at what the supermarkets are doing to make sure the plastic they sell has a minimal impact on us and the environment and what we can do to encourage and support them.

                Aldi supermarket

Plastic has many positive uses in medicine and technology which, when produced and disposed of properly, outweigh the negatives that come with choosing this material. It seems to be packaging that’s the main problem for both the environment and our heath; chemicals leaching into food and rubbish clogging up the fish and landscapes. So it makes sense for plastic packaging (including plastic bags) to be at the centre of what we aim to reduce in terms of plastic.  The UK introduced packaging regulations in 2003 which guided retailers in their packaging methods, stating clearly that packaging methods.

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There seems to be a BPA-free revolution happening in UK supermarkets


Found these BPA-free plastic food and drink containers in Sainsbury’s today. They’re made by a company, based in New Zealand Auckland, called Sistema. The company’s innovative approach to food storage is all the more powerful as their products are made locally to Auckland. So that morbid feeling that ponders the possibility of inhumane production isn’t left lurking around as drink from your new Twist n Sip bottle.

Its seems as if they have a factory in Chertsey, UK too – although I haven’t yet been able to figure out what they do there.

President of Sistema USA, SImon Kirby, claims that consumers tend to replace all their existing plastic kitchenware with Sistema products which he terms ‘collectable’. Given the take up by the majority of  the UK’s leading supermarkets and continuing growth of the company, a lot of plastic is about to be – and already has been – disposed of. It would be great if Sistema could encourage it’s customers to recycle rather than send their unwanted items to landfill.

It’s great to see that people are waking up to the dangers of using BPA products for food storage hopefully Sistema and their supports will also be considering the impact these products – with or without BPA – continue to have on the environment.

Thirsty business at Big Green Week 2014


We thought it was going to be a launch of a refillable stainless steel bottle, something new Frank Water had come up with to encourage multiple use bottles rather than going for disposable items. But as it turns out that’s not the event we sat through.

Annabelle Hunt, volunteer turned FreeFill coordinator, informed us that a lack of stainless steel bottle factories in Britain meant the idea to develop a reusable bottle from this material is currently only an idea. The other option was to import bottles from China but as they arrived in bubble wrap and plastic packaging this seemed to defeat the purpose. So instead Frank Water advocates their BPA free, reusable water bottles, made in the UK. Combined with their Free Fill initiative at festivals, Frank Water has reduced costs and waste for festivals across Britain.

The organization aims to educate people about hygiene and water sanitation, whilst providing infrastructure and initiatives that address water related issues particular to the area they are set up in. So far over 200,000 people have benefited from their education programme and successful projects can be seen through partnerships as far away as Andhra Pradesh, India. Funding comes from a whole bunch of sources including H&M, The Adventurists, Santander as well as others.

But back to plastic- It was surprising to find that there aren’t any UK based producers of stainless steel bottles so I sent some e-mails round to the some UK based companies that sell stainless steel bottles on a eco-friendly basis to find whether theirs where made and what packaging they arrive in. I’ll post an update with their responses, hopefully by the end of the week.

Reducing the embarrassing amount of rubbish that is strewn across the fields at the end of a festival is definitely a job that needs to be done, and if it keeps people hydrated at the same time then all the better!

This very pleasant monster sat just outside the boat that the presentation was given on.