Smarter shopping

Smarter shopping is all about lessening your impact on the planet by thinking before you buy.  Manufacturers and retailers are working towards more sustainable practices (see our packaging section) but you can help by making changes as you shop to cut your clutter, select items with recyclable packaging or refills to cut down your waste.

Smart Shopping

  • Can save you moneyReusable bags
  • Can reduce waste
  • Helps prevent natural resources being used unnecessarily

When you go shopping – ask yourself:

  • Make a list to avoid impulse purchases
  • Can I recycle the packaging?
  • Can I purchase this project as a refill version
  • Can this item or its packaging be reused as something else?
  • Avoid disposables if reusable versions are available.
  • Will the retailer take away and recycle your old product?
  • Could I hire or borrow it instead?
  • Can the product use rechargeable batteries?
  • How durable is the product; will it need replacing or updating shortly?
  • Is this product available second-hand?
  • Is this product value for money?
  • Do I really need this?

and please remember to take your reusable bags with you.

Is there too much packaging?

Some packaging is necessary to ensure that products reach us in a good condition and to help improve the shelf life of food.  So a small amount of packaging can prevent a lot more going to waste.  However, careful choices can often lead to a reduction in packaging waste.  Check out our packaging pages for more information.


Choosing refill productsRefilling packaging that you already have is a good way to reduce waste. Some products are available in refill pouches such as fabric conditioner and instant coffee. You can find Ecover refill stations in many stores across Somerset, simply take your bottle along and fill it up from a tank in store.  If you are lucky enough to have a milkman in your area you can get milk in glass bottles that get washed and refilled.

Buy Concentrated Products

Concentrated products use less packaging and produce less transport emissions because they weigh less and take up less space.  Drinks that you dilute are better than buying them ready to drink.  The introduction of double concentrated squash will save approximately 1500 tonnes of plastic a year.   Many cleaning products come in a concentrated version, just make sure you do actually use less of them!

Product size

If your lifestyle allows, avoid individually wrapped products.   A lot of food can be bought wrapped in individual portions; this usually requires at least one extra layer of packaging.  Some examples to avoid are multipack cereals, raisins in little boxes, cake bars, teabags and mini cheeses.  However, if you have storage, it can work out cheaper and produce less waste if you buy in bulk, for instance multi-pack rolls of toilet paper, large boxes of washing powder or dried pet food.

Buy Gift Vouchers or a Day Out

To make them look special many gift items such as perfume and nice chocolates often have extra packaging.  If you are unsure about what to get someone why not choose gift vouchers or “experiences” such as a visit to the theatre instead.

Grow Your Own

For the ultimate reduction in packaging why not try growing some of your own food.  Less waste, zero food miles and much tastier!  Start simply with herbs and salad then move on to vegetables and fruit.  Keeping chickens is also becoming increasingly popular.  If this is not an option for you, the next best thing is buying local produce from a farm shop or farmers market.  There are regular farmer’s markets across Somerset.

Buy recycled

Items put out for recycling become materials from which manufacturers make new items. Making new products from recycled materials supports more recycling and reduces use of raw materials from the natural environment. You can support recycling even more by buying recycled products – known as “closing the loop”.

Some items are usually made entirely from recycled materials or with a high recycled content, such as newspaper, glass bottles and jars, cans and cardboard. Some products can be made from recycled materials and choosing these helps further extend markets to recycle more. When you shop, look out for recycled items such as bin liners, toilet roll, stationery, compost, cleaning clothes, tissues and lots more.

When you purchase products made from recycle materials, you help to:
•    Reduce the demand for  raw materials
•    Reduce energy consumption
•    Reduce pollution
•    Reduce waste