In our family, we like to give ourselves challenges every now and again. We did the no-sugar-challenge a while ago (no piece of cake, literally), I’ve tried a vegan challenge (unsuccessfully) and now we’re preparing our next challenge, the no-supermarket-challenge.
The premise is simple: we don’t want to shop at a supermarket for a month.
The reason behind the challenge is that we’ve noticed that we spend too much money for unnecessary things at the supermarket. Although we always come with a list of things to get, we end up getting more than we need.
On top of these unnecessary items comes the waste we produce while doing so. A box of biscuits doesn’t hurt, right? Well, the content maybe not but the wrapping. I’ve started collecting our soft plastics and bringing them to a collection point. It’s scary to see how much soft plastic waste we produce! (soft plastics are usually not recycled in Australia and therefore end up in landfill or in waterways)
Another reason is that we want to support local businesses rather than international chains.
The challenges with the challenge
Not going to the supermarket implies more than just to stop shopping for biscuits. It also means to find alternative sources for things like toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning products, milk and other dairy products.
We don’t want to cheat and store up on these items in advance so we’re exploring alternatives.
Just to name a few:
Toilet paper can be ordered online in Australia through this fantastic organisation: who gives a crap.
Toothpaste will come from our local food coop. Or I whip up a batch.
Cleaning products: I try to use vinegar for most cleaning jobs. However, dishes and clothes need alternatives. I’m looking into how to make my own laundry detergent. Our dishwashing liquid will come, again, from our local food coop.
Milk – this is a biggie. I recently had a conversation with a friend and he mentioned that the milk price over the past 20 years has rather decreased than increased. The price we’re paying for milk at the supermarket is not the real price. Should it be our goal to pay the real price instead? Well, we wanted to save money, not spend more. My solution at the moment is that we’ll use less milk. We will pay the real price (or at least a more realistic price) at the food coop but drink less. I will also make more nut milk at home.
We are also big cheese eaters. Currently, I have no idea where our cheese will come from for the month of our challenge. There is a good ‘fancy’ cheese selection at our local fruit and veggie store, maybe that will have to do.
One question we’re working on right now is the question of what is exempt from the no-supermarket rule. Just a little background: we live five minutes walking distance from a supermarket and ten minutes drive from both the food coop and a fruit and veggie store. Although we get a veggie box delivered each week from a local farmer, our fruit still comes primarily from the supermarket. The reason is plainly our proximity to the supermarket. I can quickly walk there and pick up what we need when we need it.
My suggestion is to limit our fruit and veggie shopping at the supermarket to the absolute emergency (the same as getting bread and milk from the petrol station) but rather plan ahead. If we do shop at the supermarket for fruit and veggies, we won’t take anything wrapped in plastic and we won’t take any bags to carry them home.
Our goal and motivation are to prove to ourselves that we can live without going to the supermarket. We will need to learn to plan ahead and shop in bulk. The challenge should also help to cut down on impulse purchases and those quick trips down the road.
We also want to explore other options for shopping like local markets. With the convenience of a supermarket, we rarely have the need to do so. But with a challenge up our sleeves, hopefully, it will encourage us to broaden our horizons in a good way.
I will report back here how it’s going.
Also follow me on twitter, #nosupermarketchallenge