One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more eco-conscious. I have started to change the products we use and shop more ethically, but it is hard when I’m working and looking after James to find time to research alternative options, and find stockists. The switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products was relatively easy, though quite expensive compared with Tesco own brand lemon cleaner which I used to splash liberally around the bathroom. I’ve also tried out a range of ethical and eco friendly beauty products which I will be reviewing soon, but today I wanted to share my latest switch. I do my grocery shopping online at Tesco.com for a number of reasons.
- It is convenient to use their online delivery service. Grocery shopping is up there with my least favourite chores. I don’t know why I hate it so much as I do love food! But the convenience of having all my shopping delivered by one supplier in one big bulk order without having to traipse up and down the aisles looking for things (which seem to be moved every few months or so just to infuriate their shoppers *), and the agony of choosing the “wrong” queue and being stuck behind either a) a very slow packer or b) a very chatty salesperson who takes a month of Sundays to scan everything through, wins me over.
- I was sucked in by their clubcard voucher scheme, and still seem to think it is a good idea to earn “points” that I can use to spend on other things. However I mostly use them to buy groceries again at Tesco, or occasionally stock up on cheap vests for James. I haven’t done much research but I’m fairly certain that the mass production of Tesco baby vests probably isn’t terribly ethical or environmentally friendly. And by spending my vouchers in store, I’m just feeding more money back into the Tesco chain.
- It is relatively cheap and I find I spend less money on groceries than when I actually went into the shop as the temptation to throw a few random things into the trolley isn’t there.
However, the amount of packaging that comes with my food shop is really starting to annoy me. I know, sad right? But really, do my vegetables really need to be shrink wrapped and placed on plastic trays or in plastic nets? Do my meat products really need to be bagged into individual plastic bags when they are already in their own plastic trays sealed with cellophane? Apparently so. And I do get the food hygiene argument, I really do, but I find it all a bit unnecessary.
Another thing that annoys me is that shopping online doesn’t always give me the opportunity to check the country of origin, or at least not easily. Given the chance I’d obviously much rather have British apples than apples flown in from Spain, for both carbon footprint/food mile reasons and to support fellow British farmers. You can easily check the labels in store, but when ordering online it less transparent which countries I am selecting food from.
Anyhoo, in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives, and to source more local (and organic produce), I started looking around for veg box schemes. I had heard about Grow Wild and was impressed by the range of produce that they sell. I have signed up for their medium veg and fruit box (which actually is probably going to be too much for us (me, hubby and small toddler), so I may downgrade to the medium veg box). For £17.95 a week I get a box of fruit and veg delivered direct to my door. Last week was the first week and it was very exciting to come home and see what delights my box would contain! This week I have celery, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, onions, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, oranges, apples and pears. It’s great to have such a range of fruit and vegetables, mostly grown locally but some sourced from growers in Europe. I know the farmer that runs the business and grows some of the produce, and he said that he loves importing stuff from fellow farmers in Europe that might look a bit wonky or “ugly” compared to the perfect fruit and veg you buy in the supermarkets but he said “it’s so fresh I could weep”. Indeed!
It’s all organic so there are no chemical nasties. And it comes in a cardboard box with very minimal plastic (just a small amount to bag the kale and broccoli this week, though I understand you can email them if you want to go totally packaging free). One of the downsides is that you don’t know what veg you are getting so it does make it difficult to plan meals, however, we often have meat, potatoes and a couple of types of veg for dinner, so on those days it works really well. Other nights when I make things like stews or pasta dishes, I’ve tried out some of the new types of veg by just flinging them in a tomato based sauce and hoping for the best. Last week we had tomatoes, squash, onions, carrots, a purple sweet potato, normal sweet potato and kale (amoung other things) which I threw into a veg curry and it tasted great! It is exciting to try new things, and I’m looking forward to cooking up more healthy dinners this week.
*I think actually this is probably a tactic to make us wander round the whole shop looking for our couscous/dried apricots/soya milk/*insert random grocery item here* and end up buying other things on the way while we look for it…