Plastic Free July: how Mia avoided grocery plastics

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For Plastic Free July, the Mia team targeted reducing single-use plastics found in the supermarket, forming new sustainable habits as part of our TAKE2 pledge.

Two months ago, members of the Mia team signed up for Plastic Free July, a global movement whereby individuals and businesses resolve to eschew single-use plastics to fight plastic pollution. From the start of July, each one of us targeted one or more areas in which to make inroads towards minimising our consumption of single-use plastics.

So, how did we do?

Most of us targeted food and grocery related items – perhaps not surprisingly, since grocery shopping has been one of the few pleasures permitted to Melbournians in recent weeks. It’s also a logical place to start, since the sheer volume and regularity of food and grocery shopping can lead to correspondingly high levels of single-use plastic.

Deirdre Diamante – Managing Director

“Signing up to plastic free July has made me more conscious of my buying behaviours.”

As a mum with school-aged children, Deirdre’s focus was using reusable containers instead of cling film wrap for the kids’ school lunches (for the brief period schools were open) and changing the school snack food to that without excessive plastic packaging. She also focused on buying products without plastic packaging wherever possible – including avoiding pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.

Yim Huynh – Chief Operations Officer

“I purchased the reusable mesh bags and they’ve worked great.”

Yim progressed from reusable shopping bags to also cutting out plastic bags used for loose fresh fruit and vegetables. She invested in reusable mesh produce bags, which now live in the car with the reusable shopping bags. Besides, she says, when she goes to the market, she often just puts it all straight into a large shopping bag.

Yim now takes reusable produce bags for fruit and veg.

Jade Leong – Director Bids and Policy

“I have to spruik Schulz milk. We’ve been on their journey from the start, and supported their funding campaign to help them move from single-use plastic milk.”

Jade is Mia’s sustainability warrior! She already practices many plastic-free habits, including purchasing most dried goods from a bulk food store in refillable containers (The Source Bulk Foods) and milk in returnable and refillable glass bottles (Schulz Organic Dairy). A new focus for Jade in July was doing something about all the plastic boxes from takeaway, in particular reusing them for restaurant leftovers (when they reopen for dining in). Or choosing vendors that supply takeaway food in compostable packaging!

Plastic Free July
Jade buys Schulz Milk in returnable and refillable glass bottles.

David Watt – Director Government Strategy

“We revamped our food storage system.”

David targeted single use plastic food storage bags. Instead of using ziplock or freezer bags to store food items in the fridge his household now uses a range of reusable bags made of calico or silica. Even better, he says fruit and vegetables stored in the calico seem to last longer.

David’s dog Esther likes her treats in reusable food storage pouches.

Carol Benton – Senior Consultant

“I selected foods packaged in materials other than plastic.”

Carol also adjusted her grocery buying habits to include items not packaged in plastic – such as condiments in glass jars and bottles, cheese and ham from the deli, and home-baking muesli bars for her son instead of buying them. She continued her already established habit of buying loose fresh fruit and vegetables straight into reusable trolley bags, choosing to avoid fresh foods in polystyrene trays or pre-packaged in plastic.

Carol chooses food in glass.

Ellen Gregory – Communications Specialist

“I focused on plastic-free choices and cut out supermarket bakery items.”

Ellen has been focused on reducing single use plastics for a while now, and has transitioned to plastic-free alternatives for many household products – such as solid shampoo, cling film replacements and reusable produce bags. For plastic free July she re-committed to purchasing bread from bakeries in paper bags, baked her lockdown snacks instead of purchasing plastic-encased goodies, and continued to choose supermarket items in glass, paper or compostable packaging wherever possible.

Ellen now gets bread from the bakery in paper bags.

On the whole, each member of the team has pledged to continue these new habits. It’s difficult to completely avoid single-use plastic, given its prevalence in society and particularly during Melbourne’s lockdown, but every little bit counts. We enjoyed the challenge of establishing some new habits we can sustain into the future to fight plastic pollution.

Mia undertook Plastic Free July as part of our TAKE2 Pledge. TAKE2 is Sustainability Victoria’s collective climate change program supporting individuals, government, business and other organisations to help our state achieve net zero emissions by 2050. See the TAKE2 website or our March news item for further information.

Jade’s tip for buying bulk foods is mark the weight on the container!

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