Plastic Free Shopping at South Melbourne Market.
South Melbourne Market opened in 1867 and is still going strong. Recently careful modernisations have been made like SO:ME space which supports independent designers, fashion retailers etc.
I usually got to the markets once a week and much as there is plenty on offer in the food hall and in the many quirky stalls I'm usually just after some grocery basics.
Following I have documented how I obtain not just fruit an veg but also nuts, dried fruits, bread and even soap all plastic free.
Needless to say, plastic-free shopping requires a little forethought. Don't forget your reusable shopping bags and best to have a range of sizes and either mesh or repurposed old bread bags etc for smaller supplies like nuts etc. Yes - if I get caught out and have to buy bread in a plastic bag I keep the bag (just rinse and dry on the line!) as plastic is too good to be only single-use. Of course, I avoid getting bags where possible and recycle the hard-to-reuse bags like noodle bags and rice-cracker wrappers etc in the supermarket Redcycle bins.
Back to the good stuff. Fruit and veg is easy - just go for the produce that is nude. Sometimes this might mean getting a different kind of lettuce than usual or large tomatoes not the tiny things in plastic clams - but really, this is a first world problem! As a rule, I have no problem getting all I need nude - though rubber bands around kale and herbs are all but impossible to avoid. Recently a purchased a bunch of spinach in twine, which I put in the compost bin at home - so look out for such upgrades.
Part of my weeky route these days is Rita's Coffee & Nuts. This is where I stock up on, well, coffee and nuts, but also dried fruits and a range of dried beans/pulses/legumes and grains. There are many other goodies here too, though mostly the above is what is nude and the rest is packaged. The delightful thing here is that they happily fill your own storage jars from home. In all honestly it is easier to BYO bags as this saves them having to weigh the jar first and then work out the cost minus the jar... but either way is welcomed. In the following photos you can see the huge range of dried fruits, nuts and dried beans on offer. I also go to the Nutshoppe for nuts and dried fruit - you will get both really cheap here - cheaper than I have seen them anywhere in fact. These retailers are at either end of the deli aisle.
There are several vendors who sell nude bread, just BYO bag, including several delis and St George's Bakery on Coventry St - who will also slice loaves into your own bag - gold! I don't know if any of the deli's will fill your own jars with olives and other deli items - usually the market is super busy so I like to keep things simple. Dry goods are easy in a bag of any kind as the food can be weighed in the bag - jars or other containers are harder and the vendor has to be willing to do a double entry to minus the weight of the jar.
Hunt out The Soap Shop to stock up on bars of soap and to fill your own bottles (some empties are also in the store) with basic household cleaners and detergents. Here local products and stocked and the owner is diligent about who they come from and their ingredients. If wanting a posher experience try the Australian Natural Soap Company who are all about all natural, high-quality vegan and cruelty-free soaps. You will even find soap bars to replace shampoo and pet shampoo! I must admit I haven't tried soap from here yet but it sounds delightful and I will definitely get there soon to try the shampoo.
I don't buy cut flowers on the regular - but I do for special occasions and when I do I simply scan for plastic-free bunches - most of the markets florists, and there are a few, have plastic-free bunches and just to be sure to ask for 'just paper' for the wrapping.
And so there it is. There are plenty of options and since shopping this way the waste our family produces is massively reduced. We do of course use Redcycle for recycling any bags that do make it in the house (usually after we have thrashed them multiple times as bread bags, veggie bags etc) and I compost all food waste. Eating vegan makes this a breeze as there are no greasy animal remains to have to deal with.
I hope you have found some useful plastic-free shopping tips here and good luck as you try them out for yourself!
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