A saving for me – at a cost to the environment

Filed in Blog by on May 30, 2011 13 Comments
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Have you spotted a bargain that costs the environment recently?

Have you spotted a bargain that costs the environment recently?

Little Miss Green is partial to eating fish. Any type of fish passes her seal of approval so I make sure the cupboards and fridge are well stocked with an assortment of piscean goodness.

One of her particular favourite meals is tuna and pasta bake; it also happens to be a fantastic recipe to use up any bits and pieces from the vegetable rack.

I usually fry an onion and garlic then add a few tomatoes and some cooked veggies such as chopped carrot and broccoli. I stir in the tuna, swirl in some cream or soft cheese and voilà – by the time the pasta is cooked we have a nutritious meal in minutes which helps reduce food waste and doesn’t come in one of those annoying black plastic ‘convenience food’ packages.

I don’t know about you but recently I’ve noticed an increase in the cost of living. The budget here at Chez Green seems to be being stretched further and further. When we put fuel in our car we used to get 100 miles from it, now the same amount gives us 75.

It’s the same with food; I used to draw £50 out from my bank for food and it used to last for a long time. Now it seems to disappear in a flash. I’ve always been a savvy shopper, but I’m having to bargain hunt more and more and herein lies an issue for my zero waste lifestyle.

Take these four cans of tuna I spotted the other week. They were half price! I thought of Little Miss Green and popped them in the trolley.

It was only when I went to to use the fist tin I realised what I had done.

I’d bought some landfill waste.

The four tins were wrapped in unmarked plastic, but to buy each tin individually would have been a totally zero waste product.

I’ve seen baked beans on offer wrapped in the same plastic – you can get 6 tins for the price of 4.

I’ve always maintained that a zero waste lifestyle and frugality can go hand in hand, but it would seem that this isn’t always the case.

What about you – what bargains do you buy which ‘force’ you to buy rubbish packaging?

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 (13)

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  1. Sue says:

    Yes, those plastic wrapped ‘not to be sold separately’ multipacks get me every time. I’ve had to adjust my food budget upwards a lot in recent months and find them a useful money saver. Why can’t they be sold without the packaging? Surely retail technology is such that the discount can be subtracted at the till?

  2. Attila says:

    I used to buy free range eggs, medium size at the supermarket for £2.75 a dozen, but then noticed 15 odd sized eggs for £2.50. The trouble was, while the dozen eggs came in a cardboard box, the 15 came in a plastic box. It really made me mad but we eat a lot of eggs and, because of food intolerances, we have to buy certain things that are expensive, so we had to save on eggs. Then I discovered Bob the eggman who sells a dozen small free-range eggs for £1.40 and delivers! They come in cardboard egg boxes that I give back for re-filling. Success!

  3. CarSue says:

    We eat a lot of whole grain cous cous, so I recently thought to buy the largest package available. It was a tremendous deal, and though I paid twice what I would for the regular cardboard box of cous cous, I got 4x as much! Plus, it was the only organic variety at our market, and it came in a recyclable #2 plastic container!

    The down side: when I got home and opened the container, I realized the lid was a #5 plastic, which simply cannot be recycled in our area. So while I got a great value, I went from the zero waste cardboard boxes to having to throw out a sizable plastic lid (about the size of a compact disc). Win some, lose some I guess! 🙁

    Interesting post, Mrs. G., and good “food for thought.”

  4. Sue C says:

    @Attila: Yep I’m with you on Bob the Eggman. We visit “the chicken lady” and get half a dozen medium free-range for 1.30 so you’re doing well on price. Or a tray (which I think is two and a bit dozen) for £3 when there’s a glut of eggs. The chickens are so free-range you have to take avoiding action to not run them over….

  5. Attila says:

    @Sue C: Ah well, Bob is about 85 and does it more to get out of the house than to make a living!

  6. some if not all of those plastic wrap thingys can go with the carrier bags as i have seen the correct number on some of them..

    sometimes though those multipacks aren’t as good value as first thought, you have to do the maths.

  7. Jane says:

    I too fell for this. Irritating isn’t it? I have some Sainsbury’s tins which have a reduction printed across the very top of the paper label – four for the price of three or something. I prefer that option. I guess we should take that plastic off at the till or send it back to the manufacturer – or both at different times! Let’s show we care and have an opinion.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Sue: You would think that they could be sold separately as a ‘buy one get one free’ item wouldn’t you? Perhaps its rubbishy stock they bundle up into offers 😉

    @Attila: Yay for Bob the Eggman CarSue: Oh noooo, that’s such bad luck. Perhaps a letter to the manufacturer is in order 😉

    @Sue C: Love the idea of dodging the chickens when you go to buy their eggs and great you have found such a convenient and well-priced source 🙂

    @maisie dalziel: Alas this one is not numbered – it’s that really tough, loud crinkly plastic and I agree we have to do the maths; I take a calculator with me to the shops sometimes as the ‘offers’ aren’t always what they seem 😉

    @Jane: Good idea; I think I might strip it off next time – although it’s pretty difficult to remove unless it has the perforations…

  9. Condo Blues says:

    I always struggle with the low waste/low price debate. Most of the time I do well but last weekend my husband came home with a package of hotdogs in a nonrecyable package because he was craving hot dogs and wanted to break in our new grill. *sigh*

    They tasted good though.

  10. Kitty says:

    I am someone with good green intentions who has trouble putting them into action who enjoys reading your blog. I thought of this post when I went into the kitchen to put my groceries away and found the multipack of beans with the wrapping on it.

    It made me think more in general……is the green lifestyle a middle class lifestyle of choice, is shopping in a zero waste way the trendy middle class thing to do? Is the zero waste lifestyle accessible for those on lower incomes who have no choice but to buy as cheaply as possible?

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Condo Blues: 😀 well they tasted good and weren’t wasted – that’s a good thing; every now and then it’s good to indulge 😉

    @Kitty: Hi Kitty; Personally I feel the zero waste thing DOES combine really well with being frugal; it’s just there are times when it seems impossible. Generally I’ve found we SAVE money by shopping in this way…

  12. @CarSue: Perhaps you should have re-used the plastic container. I keep all my butter containers, and anything with a sealable lid. It makes all my containers free, so evidently, much cheaper than tupperware!

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