“Oh, you must be THAT family!”

Filed in Blog by on March 2, 2010 8 Comments
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Mrs Green clutches her cheese and coleslaw (in reusable containers of course!)

Mrs Green clutches her cheese and coleslaw (in reusable containers of course!)

That was the excited comment that rung through our ears when we visited ‘Over Farm‘ the other week.

We had to take a couple of trips to Gloucester, which takes us right past Over Farm’s door, so we decided to pop in and see what they could offer us. Little Miss Green had a ham craving, but our local butcher only had sliced turkey and beef on the menu. We thought we’d try our luck at Over.

I must admit, I’m still really shy about asking people to use our reusable containers. It’s fine in the stores that know my crazy ways, but for new stores I’m always a bit fearful of their response. I don’t like confrontation you see. It brings my inner child cowering up inside me, wanting to hide behind my skirt. Hiding behind your own skirt is no easy thing, I can tell you.

As soon as I held my container up and asked for two slices of their finest ham, the lady gave us a beaming smile and said rather loudly “Oh, you must be that family!” and she went on to tell us how she had seen us on the TV and read about us in the papers. All the while she was merrily putting our ham into our own container.

She even put the barcode onto a paper bag which I could then leave at the checkout – a truly ‘sans plastic’ affair.

So the following week we went back and bought cheese and coleslaw. Again, smiling service and not so much as a “You what??!!” when we asked for no clingfilm, no plastic wrap, no plastic bag and by the way could you pop it into our container please.


How easy was that?

The upside for Over Farm is that they now have a new customer. See, service with a smile brings rich rewards.

So proud are they of their home grown produce, that Rob Keene; owner of Over Farm, has created the ‘big G‘ site which is a group of farm shops around Gloucestershire. You’ll be able to find out what is in season, and where to buy it fresh in the county. On the website he says “whilst, it seems, we are being repeatedly informed about the benefits, both to the environment and to the local economy, of eating more local and seasonal produce, it often seems that we are not being told enough about how, where and when to find it. Gloucestershire Farm Shops has been created to help answer these questions and to demonstrate just how much delicious produce is available right on your doorstep.”

So there you go. If you can’t get to Over Farm, perhaps you can get someone else in the area – and ask them if they’ll use your own reusable containers while you’re in there will you? 😉

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. Alea says:

    Bringing in your own containers is a wonderful idea. How lovely to have someone cheerfully fulfill your request! If more people follow your example, it will not only reduce trash, but also save the stores a little money.

  2. Jane says:

    I wonder whether they had already discussed what they’d do if you chose to visit!? Many salespeople would not be able to cope with a change to the way they’ve been taught to do their job, I suspect, as they are under pressure and would need to call a supervisor. So to get people talking about it is a great step forward. Now to find the right kind of shop…

  3. How Fabulous – That looks like a briliant place. However, I know what you mean about having confidence with familiar places. There’s one butcher that I use, where I always take containers, but others I remain very shy. 🙂 x

  4. Jane says:

    Management needs to brief those on the counter as I think it will be a growing trend. I’ve only declined polystyrene boxes the butcher tried to ‘help’ me with so far.

  5. Sarah says:

    Darn, I’m too far away….
    Must admit I’ve been scared to ask for our own containers to be used although I do go for naked fruit and veg wherever possible. It’s the meat and cheese that gets me.

  6. John Costigane says:

    Great to see another business allowing container use locally for the family. As consumers, we have every right to ask for our purchases to be packaged as we require. If businesses refuse or make difficult their use, simply boycott them in future.

    Locally, I can buy meat/fish/bakery/dry commodities/home cosmetics for containers, with unpackaged used for as many items as possible. Compared to ~2 years ago, there have been many positive developments and we can expect more like today’s find for Mrs Green. My local contacts are very helpful and container use is now part of the shopping routine. The waste reduction is ace and anyone can achieve the same.

    The Cravendale square-based Tetra Paks are excellent for milk purchases with prices in Asda falling. One of the best features in the pack is the recyclable plastic seal which may well become a replacement here for the aluminium/plastic seal which only has a waste outcome. This had been a recurring sore point in my waste reduction but now is thankfully a thing of the past.

  7. Naomi S says:

    How wonderful that you are really getting the word out there that this is a thing to do and they GET it! Well done!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Alea: Yes! I think if stores (particularly the small, independent stores) cotton on to the idea they can save money on packaging by allowing container reuse); this could catch on.

    @Jane: I did wonder that too as it seemed very strange to have a fuss-free approach to it all 🙂

    @Almost Mrs Average: Weird isn’t it about never getting blasé about the container thing? Especially you Mrs A, with all the talks and canvassing you do!

    @Sarah: You could do what I did with our butcher and phone up first – anonymously 😉
    You could always blame me – tell them you’ve been reading about this weird family in Gloucestershire LOL!

    @John Costigane: Hi John, yes we get interesting responses; some saying its a health and safety issue; while others are perfectly happy to help us. Great to see more products coming on board in your area too.

    @Naomi S: Thanks Naomi! The crazy thing is, we’re just reminding people of how it USED to be! Nothing new here; Mr G remembers going to Sainsbury’s with his Mum and everything was wrapped in greaseproof paper – cheese, meat, fish …. No plastic in sight 🙂

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