Plastic Free shopping in the Barossa Valley
I have been working on cutting down the packaging on all of our shopping for quite a long time now but decided to go full throttle about 12 months ago when I launched Eco Patch. Since then, I have continued to search out businesses and shops that will allow me to buy my groceries unpackaged- or in biodegradable or very easily recyclable packaging. This post will be specific about the businesses close to us in the Barossa Valley- although will be useful for others who are not nearby as I will give some tips about how you can start approaching places to help you get unpackaged goods.
Where to start
I think ones of the easiest and best places to start is with fruit and veg. It does take some preparation and habit forming to get this to work but is one of the easiest and quickest wins in the unpackaged shopping realm.
I have the fortune that I have good easy access to a local Farmers Market- the Barossa Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday in Angaston. I do a good 60-70% of my fresh produce shopping here and get almost all of our fresh fruit and veg here. I take my reusable bags with me and pick and fill the smaller items into the cloth bags and larger items go straight into my larger bags or basket. I have started asking the stall holders if I can put their pre-bagged or packaged items into my bags and they have all been overwhelmingly supportive of this. I just gave them their packaging back to use again.
I do also shop at our local Foodland supermarkets, ALDI and the greengrocers for some fruit and veg, as I do buy some out of season fruit and veg for my child with special dietary needs. I will only buy loose items- so no bags of carrots or potatoes or onions, only the loose ones. If I forget my cloth bags or run out I will grab a paper mushroom bag to chuck the lettuce mix or green beans in. I usually do have enough though. One of my bugbears is that it is often more expensive to buy the loose produce than the bagged stuff.
Next item on my list is bread- again super easy to get plastic free if you go to the right places. I get most of my bread from the Barossa Farmers Market and the Tanunda Bakery as I can use my own bag or it is easy to get bread in a paper bag. I can even get sliced loaves at Tanunda Bakery in my own bags. I have never had any concern or refusal from the people serving. You can get a small range of bread and bread products from Foodland in the display cases in Nuriootpa and Tanunda. This is my fall back. The one thing I have found really challenging is getting Gluten Free bread for my son not packed in plastic. It is hard for a few reasons- firstly there would be huge contamination issue with the product if it was unpackaged in a supermarket environment. I suspect with some really good forward planning I could get some packaged into my bags from a bakery that does make it on the days they do their bakes. I have not had any success with making the bread as yet as my son is a bit particular with his choice of GF bread- but I will keep working at it.
For dried and pantry type items I get a lot from bulk food shops. We are lucky to have a couple in the Barossa area now- with The Real Pantry in Angaston and The Wholesome Living Store in Freeling. I get just about all of our dried goods from these two shops now. I do also get a few things from the Foodland in Nuriootpa as they have a bulk section too. The main problems with getting bulk at Foodland is that you can not Tare your bags or containers- so you do pay for them. My suggestion is to go to one of the bulk shops as you can tare your containers and only pay for goods in the container.
We are supremely lucky to have such fantastic butchers in the Barossa- thank you German settlers! What’s more all of them will let you bring your own containers to get your meat in. Barossa Hill Butchers in Tanunda and Angaston, Linkes and Schultz in Nuriootpa all support this. Good on you guys!
Deli goods and cheeses I have got plastic-free at the Foodland in Nuriootpa and Tanunda, although for cheese my favourite is the Barossa Cheese Company. With pre-planning, I can get cheese cut and wrapped in my Beeswax wraps. The Barossa Hill butchers do a great range of small goods I have had cut and put in my containers too.
Dairy, excluding cheese, has been one of the only sticking points for being unable to find plastic-free milk and yoghurt. I have and do make yoghurt at home, but the kids have not liked the homemade stuff, and the little fella can only have soy yoghurt- which I can only get in small tubs. My plan is to continue to keep trialling making soy yoghurt with the dairy-free starter I have to see if I can come up with the goods, that the kids like. Milk I think is going to be something I continue to work on and in the meantime continue to support my local dairy farmers and buy the Barossa made milk.
Non- Food items
Shopping for non-food items has been interesting. I have undertaken a lot more DIY for cleaning products and some skin care stuff. We have swapped to biodegradable kitchen sponges and bulk dishwashing and laundry detergents- this We get from The Real Pantry or The Wholesome Living Store and prior to that Govita in Tanunda. We have been getting Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, tissues and paper towel for quite a while, ordered online. It is all plastic free, post-consumer recycled paper or sustainable bamboo paper, delivered to our door and best of all they are a social enterprise and fund sanitation in developing countries. Thankfully I have so many plastic-free items at my fingertips due to the shop. I get all of our toothbrushes, dental floss, sponges, scrub pads and dish brushes from my store. I have bought bulk shampoo and conditioner in the past but we have just changed over to shampoo bars for the family, and I still use bottled hair products which come in a combination of glass, metal tubes and large PET bottles. I would love to have non-plastic shampoo- but I have found that my curly hair has not yet agreed with any of the other things I have tried. I am going to contact Aesop, where I get my hair care stuff from and see if they would consider packing this in a glass bottle too. I did wonder if it was a safety thing that it is in plastic so as to not break in the shower.
I have stock of toothpaste tablets arriving soon for my shop and this will mean that we are plastic free with our dental care items- except for the little fella, as he is too small to safely use the toothpaste tablets at the moment. We will grin and bear the toothpaste tubes until he is bigger but make sure they go to the TerraCycle program for recycling (I am hoping we will have this waste stream collection available soon).
Whilst I have not covered off on absolutely everything we buy this is certainly the bulk and most relatable for others. I will continue to add more information on specific items as I change them over and have more wins on my plastic-free journey. I will also share some of my favourite recipes for DIY products in the next few blogs so you can have a go at making your own to cut out waste and reduce the toxic load in your household.
Please feel free to share any advice you have on plastic-free shopping in the comments below or reach out if there is anything that I can help you with.