Plastics: Talk to your Butcher

Plastics: Talk to your butcher - Episode 172 of The Slow Home Podcast

Last week we introduced a new four-part Monday series dealing with plastics. Specifically, how to use less of them in day to day life. We covered the Big 4 – straws, drink bottles, takeaway coffee cups and plastic shopping bags – and offered a whole heap of solutions to help you live a Plastic Free July (and August, and September and so on…) 

This week we’re encouraging you to get a little awkward.

When we first started to make a concerted effort to reduce our plastic use it became clear quite quickly that it wasn’t going to simply happen. Providers weren’t going to read our minds, they weren’t going to offer plastic-free alternatives without any prompting, and they certainly weren’t going to know we wanted alternatives a all unless we were brave enough to have a conversation with them. It was clear we’d need to put some effort in, deal with a little inconvenience, and (most startlingly for me) have some awkward conversations.

Today Ben talks about our butcher. He’s a lovely guy with a busy shop in our village, and when Ben first walked in to the store holding a handful of Pyrex containers and asked him to put the sausages, lamb and chicken thigh in them rather than wrapped in two different layers of plastic, the butcher was bemused. Probably even amused.

He was happy enough to try it though, and after two or three more visits Ben had developed a reputation for being the ‘bring your own containers’ guy. Which is funny. What’s more, the butcher was excited to tell Ben a few weeks ago that there were more and more people starting to bring their own containers in to the shop, and he was happy to be using less plastic.

What we’ve learnt from just that one interaction is that in order to see change, we need to be willing to first make change. And sometimes that means being the weird one, having the awkward conversation, bringing your own bag to the bakery, explaining that you’re doing an experiment – whatever needs doing to gently start the movement.

We’ve since spoken to our local deli, our bakehouse, the Thai takeaway and coffee shops, the grocery store, the farmers market and sushi shop. Rarely has it been an issue to bring our own containers, and even more surprisingly, everyone I’ve spoken to has been behind the idea of less plastic.

Of course, there are always going to be exceptions (and I’m thinking of a takeaway salad shop I’ve stopped going to because of their stance on BYO containers) and our advice in this instance: find another provider for a while. As consumers, we do have a say in what is OK or not OK, and providers will pay attention eventually.

This week we’d love to encourage you to have one conversation with one of your regular providers – be it your butcher, veggie stall, fishmonger or cafe – and ask them whether you can use your own containers at their shop. If you feel nervous or awkward about it, tell them you’re doing an experiment (in my experience people are much more open to that idea than anything else I’ve tried) and see if that helps.

Let us know how you go!


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