Ethical Grocery Shopping

multicoloured carrots

So as part of plastic free July I’ve been auditing our grocery shop and aiming to buy as much unpackaged, organic, locally-grown food as possible. It’s a real challenge to buy organic locally-grown items and sometimes you have to choose between locally-grown or organic from abroad*. Sometimes the switch has been very easy and just by checking the packaging on various brands I’ve been able to switch for products in compostable packaging for no extra cost.

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Here is our latest grocery shopping list. I’ve listed the items by brand name (if there is one), price, if they’re organic / sustainable, the packaging type, the store we buy them from. I’m located in South Dublin so these are the places closest to me. Some of the package-free stores aren’t that close but i only visit them every 4-6 weeks and stock up.

  • Mince beef meat, €11.99 per kg (organic, own-packaging) – Coolanowle Organic Butchers at Naomh Olaf Farmers Market, D18
  • Round steak, €15.00 per kg (organic, own-packaging) – Coolanowle Organic Butchers at Naomh Olaf Farmers Market, D18
  • Stewing Beef, €12.99 per kg (organic, own-packaging) – Coolanowle Organic Butchers at Naomh Olaf Farmers Market, D18
  • Free Range Pork Chops, (free range, own-packaging) – FX Buckleys, Nutgrove SC, Dublin 14
  • Fresh fish (own packaging) – Fish counter, Supervalu
  • Chicken (own packaging) – Meat counter, Supervalu
  • Pork Sausages (own packaging) – Meat counter, Supervalu
  • Linda McCarthney Chorizo and Red Peper Sausages, €2.40 for 6 (compostable packaging) – Supervalu
  • Linda McCarthney Vegetarian Leek & Cheese Plaits, €2.50 for 2 (compostable packaging) – Supervalu
  • Quorn Meat-free Vegan burgers, €2 for 4 (recyclable packaging) – Tesco
  • Fresh Fruit & Vegetables (organic, own-packaging) – EcoLogic, Windy Arbour, Dublin 14 or from Carraignamuc Cottage at Brighton Sq Farmers Market, D6
  • Bunalun Frozen Fruit, €3.50 for 300g (organic, compostable packaging) – Tesco and some Supervalus
  • Organic Wholewheat Spaghetti, €3.30 for 1kg (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Organic Wholewheat Fussili Pasta, €3.30 for 1kg (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Organic Wholewheat Couscous, €4.50 for 1kg (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Sliced bread, €2.79 for large sour dough style country loaf, (own packaging) – Lidl
  • Bread rolls / Burger Buns, 35cent each, (own packaging) – Lidl or Tesco
  • White Basmati Rice, €4.00 for 1kg (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Jumbo Oats, €2.00 for 1kg (organic, own packaging) –  The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Eggs, €3 for 6 (organic, locally raised, own packaging) –  The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Bunalun tinned tomatoes, 99cent for 400g, (organic, recyclable packaging from Italy for Irish company) – Supervalu
  • Suma Tomato Puree, €1.67*** for 200g, (organic, recyclable packaging from Italy) – Dublin Food Coop D8
  • Milk, 99cent for 1L, (organic, recyclable packaging, Northern Ireland) – Supervalu, Aldi, Lidl, EcoLogic
  • Cream, €2.45 for 250ml, (organic, recyclable packaging, Irish) – EcoLogic, Windy Arbour, Dublin 14
  • Organic Strong bread flour, €2.00 for 2kg (organic, own packaging from England) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Pasta flour, €1.85*** for 1kg (organic,  compostable packaging from England) – Dublin Food Coop, D8
  • Wine €8.50 for 750ml (organic, recyclable packaging) – Supervalu,
  • Salami, €1.90 for 100g (own packaging) – deli counter of Supervalu or Polonez Store
  • Gouda cheese, 69 cent for 100g  (own packaging) – deli counter of Polonez Store
  • Tuna, 1.19 cent for 200g (sustainably sourced, recyclable packaging) – Aldi
  • Cider vinegar (organic, refills in own container) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Soy Sauce 80 cent for 100ml (organic, refills in own container) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Your Nature ketchup, €2.00 for 500g (organic, recyclable packaging from the Netherlands) – The Green Door Pantry, Nass Road, D12 or Dublin Food Coop, D8
  • Peanut butter, €3.75 per 275g (palm-oil free, own container) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Popcorn – €2.80 for 1kg (own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Table salt, 29 cent for 500g (compostable packaging) – Lidl
  • Spices – Varies (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Raisins – €4.70 per kg (own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Nuts – Varies (organic, own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Stock – Natur Compagnie Stock Cubes (palm-oil free) – EcoLogic, Windy Arbour, Dublin 14
  • Lyons loose Tea, €3.49 for 250g (rainforest alliance, mostly compostable packaging) – Supervalu
  • Coffee, €8.95 for 500g (organic, fairtrade) – EcoLogic, Windy Arbour, Dublin 14
  • Chocolate Buttons, €.98 per 100g – (own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Sweets / Candy – (own packaging) – The Good Neighbour, IKEA, McGuires Mount Merrion, Bustop Nutgrove SC, Centra Windy Arbour)

To make the whole process more manageable I just looked to swap a few products every time I shopped, that way it wasn’t overwhelming.  I also buy a few of each item every time I shop and store them in my pantry, that way i only need to visit most stores every few weeks – except for my fruit and veg store.

I’ve started trying to make more items from scratch at home. We’ve always been good at making dinners from scratch but now we’ve added the following to the mix;

In the household department we use the following

  • Laundry –
    • Sonett Laundry Powder – €6.5 for 1kg (biodegradeable, refill) – The Good Neighbour, D14
    • Sonett Laundry liquid, €10.95 for 2L (biodegradeable, refill) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Lillys Eco Washing up – €2.90*** for 1L refill (biodegradable, refill) – The Good Neighbour, D14
  • Washing up – Wooden washing-up brush with agave bristles, €2.20 for brush and €1.20 for replaceable head (non packaging, timer and bristles are compostable & metal section is recyclable) – Klee Paper, Cabra East, D7
  • Winnis Dishwashing Tablets – €4.30 for 25 tablets (Water soluble wrappers, compostable packaging, Made in Italy) – Dunnes Stores
  • Cleaning – Vinegar (5% acidity), 5L for €3.50 (recyclable packaging**, Made in England) – Asian Market, D2
  • Cleaning – Bicarbonate of Soda, 3kg for €4.95 (compostable packaging, packed in Ireland) – Asian Market, D2

We’ve also started to make some of our own toiletries as well and so far we’ve found great recipes for;

I haven’t included any bog-standard item in the list because I figure it’s not of much use for you to know where I buy run-of-the-mill items.  As I find affordable, sustainable replacements for my bog-standard items I’ll update this list.

To make it easier for you to find sustainable stores in your own area I’ve created a Map of Eco Businesses, which includes package-free stores.

All the best


*I appreciate that some people will argue that local is always better than organic from abroad and some don’t like plastic coated tins or containers even if they are recyclable. I’m happy to leave people to make their own choice in this regard. I think if we’re all trying our best we should support one another, even if that choice isn’t one that we’d make ourselves.

***The Food Co-op give 5% discount off prices quoted here to members of the co-op

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

3 thoughts on “Ethical Grocery Shopping

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