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How conscious are you?

Kirsty Cameron

How conscious are you?

 

I’m not referring to Monday morning, pre-caffeine kick. I mean as a consumer. Do you actively avoid brands who perhaps court controversy? Shun unnecessarily packaged coconuts? Pick an energy supplier who distributes Green energy?

If you think about it, every single purchasing decision we make effects the environment. But do you choose convenience and cost over conscience. Inspired by an article I read on Campaign, I thought I'd delve into an area of being a conscious consumer - food and drink...

I’ve shared a lot of articles recently about retailers and brands shunning plastic. I’ve read the buzz about food waste – one third of food produced for Human Consumption is wasted annually. An article I read in The Telegraph will shock and appal. But that doesn’t stop us going after the mega-deals. With the ‘Big Shop’ dwindling, why do we still see so much waste?!

I’m currently living in Naples, Italy’s third biggest city. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, but have already noticed a few things in my favourite supermarket (yes I have one) and beyond.

  • A fresh produce chart is proudly displayed telling shoppers what’s in season. Granted Italy has a more conducive climate to growing a plethora of goodies, but this really informs the way I shop.
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  • The fruit and veg section is colourful, bright and looks like a well-stocked, traditional greengrocers. Compostable bags are on hand for you to pick your produce, then weigh and go, meaning you only take what you need.
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  • There are very few pre-packaged items available in the fruit and veg section and they are charged at a premium (bravo!).
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  • Although a shopper can pick up a loaf of bread if they wish, there is also an extensive range of freshly baked options (both savoury and sweet) of varying sizes.
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  • It’s not a huge supermarket, but has a cheese, sushi bar, delicatessen, meat and fish counter. Meaning that you can pick and choose how much you require. Again, all provided in a paper or compostable packaging, versus cling film and polystyrene.
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  • There’s a real emphasis on calling out products that are local to the region. 
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  • The shop offers a home delivery service. I.e. you still do the shop and choose your produce (i.e. you don’t over buy), but you don’t have to lug it home.
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  • Above all… it’s pretty cheap.
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  • Takeaway coffees are a thing. However, they are served in a ceramic cup and delivered on foot to offices and shops for those who can’t leave their post. The cups are then returned or collected at the end of the day. It’s quite a sight!
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  • There are very few shops selling ‘pre-packed’ sandwiches. Cafes are about as cost effective as a Boots meal deal, so those that do grab a sandwich or food to go, grab one that’s likely been freshly made that morning and is handed over in paper, not plastic.  

I don’t believe that life as a consumer here is idyllic (far from it), but small changes can filter into how you lead the rest of your life. We've noticed a pretty big difference in the amount of rubbish we collect - in ten days we've only thrown away one small bag of 'non-recyclables'.

Do you think it’s time the UK adopted some more mainland European traits versus influences from the USA?

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