There’s a lot of talk about the negative impacts of plastic on the environment. The news tells us of water creatures with stomachs full of plastic and encouragement to try and reduce our single-use plastic. But how easy is it to avoid plastic when grocery shopping in Amsterdam?
Fruit and vegetables are fairly easy to buy without plastic. Most supermarkets including Jumbo, Aldi, Lidl, Albert Heijm and Dirk sell several types plastic free. Many branches sell small reusable pouches for you to bag items like beans or cherry tomatoes without taking any plastic. There are market stalls including in Ten Katenstraat or the Albert Cuyp Market where the fruit and vegetables are loose and you can bring your own bags. If you buy from a grocer direct it is also easier to avoid plastic by buying unwrapped items and bringing your own container. Groenteboer Marco in West has a good selection of organic produce asking with other places accross the city.
Fruit and vegetable boxes can be ordered online and then delivered in cardboard by Farmed Today but unfortunately with very restricted delivery times.
Recently Ecoplaza put a lit of marketing into promoting themselves as having plastic-free aisles. But if you buy fruit and veg here you are required to weigh it and print a sticker. Yes it’s not a plastic bag but is more wasteful compared to other shops whose staff weigh your items at the till without needing an extra sticker. Despite their claims the rest of Ecoplaza is full of plastic. Many items do come in biodegradable plastic but that’s only useful if you have access to the right type of composting. If not then it’s confusing whether your compostable plastic should go with normal plastic or in the non-recycled waste. An interesting article about plastic and Ecoplaza can be found below, including whether biodegradable plastic is any better than normal plastic.
It can be harder to find other items without plastic. Even when you buy dry goods like pasta in a cardboard packet there is often a plastic bag inside. A good indication of whether there is a bag or not is to check if there is a cerrated edge as part of the packaging. If so then probably no plastic bag inside. Lidl especially sells a lot of dried items without a plastic innard, and it is often the case with own brand items at Albert Heijn and Jumbo. Groenteboer Marco also stocks some dry items prepacked in paper.
If you want your items completely packaging-free then try the Little Plant Pantry on Bosboom Toussaintstraat behind the Overtoom in West. Here you bring your own container and first weigh it empty, then again when it is full. You take a note of the 2 weights so they know what to charge. They sell a range of herbs and spices, dried pulses including chick peas or lentils, oats and grains, coffees and teas. There are also organic food oils and my favourite find was plant- based milk in bottles rather than tetrapak. They have a range of locally produced vegan cakes, cheeses and pickles, plus a suggestion area for items they might be missing. Depending what you buy many of the prices are very reasonable especially if it gives you the peace of mind for having avoided at least the customer- facing one-off plastic wrapper.
There are of course other ways to avoid plastic in your shopping but those are for another time! Although your suggestions are very welcome.