Friday, 3 February 2012

Skipping the supermarket challenge

It's official: I'm joining in Little eco footprints no supermarket challenge!

You might've realised by now that I am quite keen on reducing my impact on our planet: in this post I explain how we use up all packaging from Ikea furniture; here I mention my birthday request not to be given presents; here I profess my love for markets; and this is a long post about my environmental conscience and I clearly mention boycotting big supermarket chains.

And then, comes this post from Tricia at Little eco footprints. Clearly she wrote it for me! ;)
So this week I tried to see how I'd go without supermarket. And this is what I realised: it takes practice, but it can be done. Products can be sourced elsewhere, and many at a better price. I think D was a little petrified when I announced I'd go without supermarket, I think in his head he was foreseeing me spending big bucks at fancy little shops...

Tricia is such an inspiration. I receive email updates on her posts and every time I feel a bit more spurred to be environmentally friendlier. And it's exciting seeing that other bloggers are taking up the challenge, I'll be following all of their efforts and getting ideas on how to improve myself too.

So this week I bought fruit and veg from the market and from the local greengrocer (used to go there all the time but they changed ownership last year and the quality of the produce has noticeably deteriorated); bought cashews and fennel seeds from a middle eastern spice shop near the local shops (opened up last year, had never set foot in it, was pleasantly surprised the other day by the huge variety of spices and nuts and dried fruit!); bought bread from the bakery; eggs and small name-brand milk from the greengrocer; cream from the bakery.
There are a few things that I still have to figure out where to buy. Like coffee and sugar and staples and cleaning products (not that I buy many anyway, I'm a bicarb and microfibre cloths sort of gal!). I'll have to have a look at local independent supermarkets for those. I'll keep you updated as I learn a new way to do things.
even Sosi's Dolly came to market with us :)

Last week I actually had to buy new shoes for the kids. I thought I was going to have to go to the closest shopping centre. Instead, I asked my network: a friend of mine is an op-shop queen, she has a keen artistic eye and always manages to find great pieces that work together (both in clothes and in home decor). And her daughters always have "friendly" looking shoes. You know, comfortable, canvas, that the kids can run in, no obnoxious merchandisable characters drawn on them... So I asked her where she gets her kids shoes. Turns out she buys them from a local small shop! They are called Walnut Melbourne Shoes, they are comfortable, good looking and affordable. And my friend even washes theirs in the washing machine! Bonus!
So both kids got a pair. They both love theirs! I think I'll be getting myself a pair too :) And it was so nice going to a small shop: the owner is such a nice person, she was so helpful and lovely, we had nice chats and even ended up buying a couple of capes for dress-ups!

Sosi with her new shoes (ready to go to the ballet with the grandparents)
And the other thing I looked into, is buying eggs from well looked after chooks! I had earmarked a while ago Family Homestead free range eggs, I like the way their chickens are really free to live as a chicken should. So I sent an email to find out in which independent shop I could buy their eggs. I got a prompt response (there's a retailer 10 minutes away from us), and a phone call from the director Vesna: she was so nice and we had a bit of a chat (albeit interrupted frequently by my two kids...) and we might actually go visit their farm, even if it's a bit of a hike for us. I am always so excited at the idea of taking the kids where the food really comes from, farms, orchards, vege gardens, these places excite me! So I'll keep you posted on that one too :)

That's it for me now. I have a bit of research to do, on where to get all the things that we need. I have the time now to do my research and make the right choices, I can't make any excuse like I did when I was working full time out of the house and I felt guilty but did little about it, the "convenience" of having everything in one place is now outweighed by the need to do the right thing for me and the kids, to pay the farmers/growers their worth, to look into products that do less damage to our planet.


  1. What a great post! Glad to see you are attempting Tricia's challenge too! It is fun working out different ways to do it ...for us in the country, it is a little harder to source from small shops but we do have lots of farms around us too.

  2. I find this a very tough thing to do, but I have reduced my stupormarket buying a lot.

  3. I’m so glad you are joining us in the challenge Sara. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog.

    I’ve also been enjoying visiting shops I’d never set foot in before – like Indian and African grocery stores.

    Regarding coffee, do any of the local cafes sell bags of coffee? Or perhaps a local organic food store?

    Sugar is something I’ve been think about also. I’m about to make a batch of jam but don’t want to have to buy expensive imported organic sugar. I’m certain I’ll stumble across a source sooner or later.

    I found bulk bicarb at an Asian grocery store.

    The chicken farm visit sounds like fun. Great post. It sounds like you are having fun. x t.

  4. Hi Sara

    I came across your blog as part of the Supermarket challenge.

    I am currently conducting research into blogs that focus on sustainable
    living as part of my Masters at the University of New England, Australia.

    We are looking for people to participate in a short online survey
    (5-10minutes), link below

    If you could help that would be greatly appreciated.

    Larissa Shashkof
    Student Researcher, Master of Environmental Systems, Markets and Climate
    University of New England