By Sheila Bayliss on behalf of SLH
Plastic-Free July is nearly upon us again, and it’s prompted our family to reflect on the choices we make when buying food.
Over the last few years, we have significantly reduced our consumption of single-use plastics, but a few convenience-based habits are beginning to creep back in (because well, we’re human!)
I’m conscious that while it’s great that we can now recycle soft plastics, it has meant that we have reverted to buying some of the plastics we had previously begun to do without – so that’s an area where we are renewing our commitment to alternatives.
I’ve also been realising that, as imperfect humans, we can only make the changes that feel do-able for our own particular circumstances, rather than worrying about doing any of this ‘right’.
There is no perfect way to live sustainably, to shop sustainably, or to eat sustainably. It’s too complex to try to simplify into a set of rules. And we all have different budgets and health needs.
We’ve found as a family that when it comes to food, rather than tangling ourselves up in tickboxes, it’s more helpful to focus on increasing general awareness of where our food comes from. We keep these sort of questions running in the background, to inform our everyday decisions:
Where is this food produced? (Is it grown or produced in the UK, or transported from elsewhere?)
How is it produced? (Are the animals treated well? Is it an ultra-processed food? Have pesticides or chemicals been used?)
What materials are used for packaging? (Recyclable, compostable or reusable materials? Sold loose so we can fill our own containers?)
To help build our own knowledge, we did a week-long exercise as a family where we kept a note of the food we bought, and then looked up information online about where it was from and how it was produced. Then we added labels to a wall map so we could see how much of our food tends to come from within the UK.
It was a fun way to learn more about sustainable eating, and it gave us a tangible sense of how the choices we make impact the earth and the other beings we share it with.
Trying to make the ‘perfect’ choice every time would be exhausting and overwhelming. So we’ve learned to focus on making the best choices that we can, for our own health and that of the planet.