I’ve been doing what I can to reduce the plastic packaging in my food shopping, but I have to be honest. There are some areas where I’ve hit a plastic wall. Despite my best efforts to source zero-waste pantry staples, there are a few items that are just ultra-elusive. Pasta, for instance, is almost impossible to find without plastic packaging.
The same goes for coffee. While there is a plastic-free version available in some supermarkets, it hasn’t appeared anywhere near us yet. And then there are things like herbs and spices, which are not only always packaged in some form of plastic or another, but are also sold in such small quantities that the product-to-packaging ration seems unnecessarily high. Other particularly stubborn plastic sources are plant-based yoghurt, sugar, and the inner packaging of cereal – just why!?
While bulk bins are a great option, they’re not the most accessible of solutions. We’ve only got one store with a bulk refill option near us, and even they only have a tiny selection, predominantly of things I wouldn’t ever actually buy. So I turned to my favourite social media platform to find a solution, and came across Plastic Free Pantry.
The Plastic Free Pantry Concept
This small company offers a selection of zero-waste pantry staples, all packaged in either paper or compostable film. You can even send in your own packaging if you like, which they’ll fill up and return to you. They’re also really transparent about any plastic in their supply chain and regularly ask for customer input into this. I think that;s a really positive and engaging approach to an important but often frustrating topic. Who knew it was that difficult for a company to source pasta in bulk without plastic!?
When I first came across Plastic Free Pantry, I wasn’t sure about the affordability aspect, so I’ve done some quick price comparisons to help understand how much of price markup is attached to buying zero-waste pantry staples. A kilo of coffee is priced at £18.90, while a supermarket-offered single origin option is around £15.50 – £17.50. Plain rice comes in at £4.30 per kilo, as opposed to £1.60 in a supermarket, and cinnamon is £3.20 per 100g, as opposed to £2.13 for 100g of supermarket own-brand (although I doubt the quality would be comparable in this one!).
To bring prices down a little bit for things you buy often, you can subscribe for a small discount. So there’s a price difference indeed, although it’s higher for some products and almost negligible for others. There are lots of reasons for this – being a small business, focussing on single-origin and transparent supply chains, and focussing on compostable/recyclable packaging rather than cheap single-use plastic all come at a price. But ultimately, it all comes down to doing what’s reasonable and possible for you.
Adding Zero-Waste Pantry Staples to My Life
As always, I urge everyone to make the changes that are possible within their own context and means. For me, this means that buying ALL my pantry staples without plastic isn’t realistic. Instead, I’ve considered where we produce the most plastic waste, and tried to address that. We love our coffee, and because supermarket coffee comes in small bags, we go through quite a lot. So I’m choosing to buy 1kg packs of coffee from Plastic Free Pantry instead, as well as all my spice refills. The price difference is relatively small, and every time I need to make an order, I add a few other bits and pieces that we need. That means that I can at least reduce the amount of plastic packaging we get from pasta, rice, and other staples, even if I can’t eliminate it completely just yet.
I’ve had two deliveries so far, and can confirm that Plastic Free Pantry’s customer service is outstanding. They respond really fast, and are so friendly, and their products are of outstanding quality. Also, their coffee is delicious – and we all know that’s my top priority in life!
What are your favourite places to source zero-waste pantry staples?