Now my hippy credentials are piss poor. Trust me. The last time I achieved a nirvana like state it was in a Chrysler with a tank full of diesel on the new bypass between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

But a few years back I heard that we, the good people of Britain, give Tesco £1 for every £7 we spend in shops.

I think that’s too much. So I made a promise to reduce my dependency on the big T. It took a while to stop the habit, I’ve got to tell you. I know it is madness to dedicate my shopping-self to one shop all for the promise of the price of a Christmas turkey in ‘points’ at the end of the year, but it was hard to break the spell.

This week I noticed that I didn’t go at all – I had got my meat from the butchers, veg from the farm shop and milk, chocolate and crisps from Nobbies Hobbies, my local shop (no, I didn’t make that up). But the thing I am most proud of is my bottle of fairy,

This bottle has been refilled with my trusty funnel and bulk bottles of ecover successfully for a YEAR, and by me, a non-hippy.

I think bulk buying is the unsung weapon of the ethical shopper. It reduces packaging and petrol and its cheaper, so why don’t we do more of it? YOU WILL ALWAYS NEED LOO ROLL, YOU WILL EAT RICE NEXT WEEK, TINNED FOOD NEVER GOES OFF. I don’t know why we think we need to buy only what we need for the week. Of course if space is tight or you don’t have a freezer its not going to work for you, but please, next time you are trying to decide where to go for the small packet of pasta, or the medium size one, go for the extra large one. You will eat it, I promise.

There is an element of denial about supermarket shopping that leads to waste and wasted journey’s – I used to buy much more veg than we ever ate, and much less wine than we actually drank. This meant we threw out a lot and I was often seen in Tesco’s at 7pm clasping a bottle of vino in my paw. There is a theory behind all of this of course, I think it is called something like symbolic consumerism, but whatever it is, it makes much more sense to keep an eye on what you actually consume and then figure out the best way to buy it.

There are things I will probably always buy at Tesco’s – breakfast cereal, nappies, wipes, loo roll, ice cream, salt – but at least I am now doing it because it is the best all round choice for me. When I do buy I buy as much as I can store. I am buying and freezing meat from the butcher, and veg from the farm shop (although frozen still from Tesco), gifts from the independents in town or online, and laundry and cleaning stuff from the ethical superstore (although this isn’t the cheapest option and one that would change if I lost my work). I’m still mainly buying milk from Tesco’s or the local shop and think that getting on the milk round might be better… but just need to do it now.

There is a part of me realizing, reluctantly, that some of the things I do go back to Tesco’s for, because they are cheapest there, are the things that I don’t really need at all (biscuits, fizzy drinks, squash, frozen pizza and crisps)

Anyway. It may seem banal to be posting about this, especially as my efforts are not earth shattering, but I do believe that shopping is a political act whether we are conscious of it or not. Where you spend your money makes a real difference, so just think about it. I think we can fall into the trap of thinking that it is all or nothing, or that it is somehow radical to avoid the superstore superpowers, but really it just makes more sense. Spending £50 a month at your local butchers is going to make a very different kind of impact on your community than spending £30 on cheap meat at Tescos. Reusing one fairy liquid bottle and bulk buying the liquid will make a difference to the amount in landfill, as will buying 24 loo rolls rather than 4.

It’s simple really.

(and we now order wine by the crate)

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