• Cleaner Greener Wanstead

Plastic-free options on Wanstead High Street as supermarkets INCREASE single use packaging

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

The supermarkets have broken their pledge to cut down on plastic… by using more this year than ever before. Together, the 10 biggest chains produced a staggering 900,000 tonnes of single use plastic. That’s 17,000 tonnes up on last year. Three supermarkets did reduce plastics, but only by a tiny amount – Waitrose, Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s managed to achieve reductions of less than 2 tonnes. Now that IS rubbish. Find out more including a league table to see how stores compare here.


Plastic recycling in the UK is completely inadequate, with two thirds sent abroad to be processed. Most of the UK’s plastic ends up in countries like Malaysia, Turkey and Poland. Luckily for us in Wanstead, there are loads of options for shopping on the High Street (or nearby) without adding to the mountain of waste. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Take your own Tupperware to The Ginger Pig. Those shallow takeaway containers work well for cold meats

  • Get your sliced bread from Ingles, but ask for it to be put in a paper bag (works perfectly)

  • Pick up plastic-free cakes, pastries and other treats from one of the cafes or bakeries on the High Street

  • Take a reusable coffee cup if you're getting a take-out - some cafes offer a discount too!

  • Switch to Parker Dairies to get your milk delivered in bottles (organic, oat and coconut options)

  • Choose drinks in cans not plastic (or even better, take your own in a reusable bottle)

  • Buy loose fruit and veg from Harveys. You can get reusable bags to go completely waste free

  • Get your washing-up liquid, laundry liquid, fabric conditioner and delicates wash refilled at Simple ‘n’ Natural

  • Swap supermarket sandwiches for lunch without plastic – loads of choice from Greggs, Ingles and Wanstead’s cafes etc

  • Opt for nearly plastic-free Barilla pasta at Co-op – the boxes are a bit more expensive full price but are often on special offer

  • Look out for greetings cards without plastic wrap – there are some available on the High Street now if you keep your eyes peeled

  • Switch supermarket flowers to a bouquet from the florist where you can ask for them to be wrapped in paper

  • Pick plastic-free or low-plastic confectionary. It’s not easy, but there are a few options on the High Street such as Refreshers, various choc bars and Smarties or other sweets in cardboard tubes

  • Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one (they’re fab) – available at Superdrug

  • Avoid teabags made with plastic – opt for loose leaf tea or try Co-op own brand 99 or Clipper

  • Always carry re-usable shopping bags

  • Visit a local zero-waste shop to stock up on things like rice, pasta, cereals and other basics e.g Cups & Jars, 108 Woodgrange Road, E7

  • Use washable cloths instead of wet wips e.g. re-purposing old tea towels

  • Switch to a shampoo bar (not yet available on the High Street as far as we know but easy to buy nearby e.g. Lush)

  • Re-fill old bottles by making your own cleaning products

  • Pick Regina Blitz kitchen roll - now packed in paper not plastic

  • Sainsbury's and Waitrose in South Woodford are happy for customers to take their own food containers and bags - use at the meat, cheese and deli counters, and for loose veg and bakery items

The supermarkets may be failing us, but there are other options. And it’s always worth complaining to stores about their packaging and why they charge more for loose bakery items and fruit & veg. The first priority has to be no plastic, but for any you do get stuck with, you can recycl

  • Bottles through the kerbside scheme

  • Yogurt pots and clear / coloured plastic trays (except black) at the recycling point in Sainsbury’s carpark, South Woodford or the Ilford store

  • Carrier bags and soft, stretchy plastics at the recycling bins in Sainsbury’s entrance foyer, South Woodford or the Ilford store (e.g. toilet roll packaging, wrappers from multipacks of tins, thin bags for fruit and veg – check on the item, it will usually say something like ‘recyclable with carrier bags at stores’

  • Crisp packets in a collection box just to the right as you enter Christ Church (The church is open Tuesday mornings 10am -12pm, Wednesdays 9.30am – 11.15am, Thursdays 9am – 11.30am, Saturdays 9.30am – 12.30pm and Sundays 8am – 11.15am)

  • Pens - there is a recycling scheme for pens which appears to have drop off points in Walthamstow and Ilford. If anyone uses it let us know. Find out more here


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