Factors to bear in mind when doing your food shopping

19 February, 2021 | Jonathan Windeatt
Categories: Climate Change

There’s much more to the naked eye than our weekly food shop suggests. Each item you pick up from the supermarket has a category of packaging, has travelled several miles to be there and has consumed energy, water and potentially land on it’s journey. The following blog highlights some of the key components to consider if you want to weigh up the impact of your weekly food shop and other items in your household!

(i) Reducing plastic packaging, refill as much as possible! Refill shops are on the rise! and rightly so. These shops stock a wide variety of cereals, rice & grains, pasta, baking supplies, cleaning products, herbs & spices, coffee, fruits & seeds… the list goes on!. Shopping at these shops reduces our plastic consumption footprint, supports local suppliers, and can save you money in the long run. These shops are a win win and it is a real shame, this model hasn’t been adopted to supermarkets just yet. Check out a directory of over a 100 refill stores and find the nearest one to you:

Lesser Litter, Taunton.

(ii) Shopping locally as possible!

This can be tricky as we are only a limited amount of time to do our shopping each week!. If it is not possible to go to your local fruit and veg store or butchers, have a greater look at the packaging in supermarkets. For each item, ask yourself ‘can I buy one, which is produced in the UK?” if the answer is no, try to choose an item which has the smallest amount of air miles possible.

(iii) Getting to grips with recycling

Overview of all types of recycling

1.  Wastepaper and Cardboard (Household)

2. Plastic Recycling (Household)

3.  Metal Recycling (Search local recycling centre)

4.  WEEE Recycling (Search local recycling centre)

5. Glass Recycling (Household)

6. Clothing and Textile (Search local recycling centre)

7. Wood Recycling (Search local recycling centre)

8. Bricks and Inert Waste Recycling (Search local recycling centre)

Plastic Recycling

Below are the 7 main plastic categories that all items with plastic packaging should have labelled on in supermarkets. 1-2 tend to be recyclable by most local authorities but it is worth checking your local authority website. Some of categories 3-7, can be recycled at specialist points, e.g., supermarkets or recycling centres.


The following image identifies all the other symbols you can expect from packaging. An understanding of these can help inform you make smarter choices with both your shopping and recycling


By understanding some of the story and detail behind the items we pick up every day, helps to inform us about the input of resources gone into making them and how consumers can play their part in shopping and recycling consciously!