I have been shopping for my groceries package free for some years now because buying unnecessarily packaged food makes me anxious. It makes me anxious because I have to see the packaging going into a bin and not even being recycled and that means they will most likely end up in landfill far away from me.

However, package free shopping during the pandemic made me realize one thing very clearly.

Food packaging is necessary, sometimes…

During the quarantine, I did some of my grocery shopping at a bulk buying store. They implemented their own measures to protect their staff and customers so I decided to continue shopping there. One of the measures was to only use provided paper bags in the store so bring-your-own-bag (BYOB) for dry food was no longer allowed. I thought the measure was reasonable and thoughtful, even though it does not fulfill the purpose of package-free shopping, but it is a weird time and making exceptions is crucial. So I did my shopping not as usual but with being conscious of social distancing, being careful with where I’m touching but doing it as quickly as I can and perceiving the anxiety of others all at the same time. Well, it was not a pleasant shopping experience at all yet it’s not that I can completely avoid it anywhere I go during this time. But when I was walking home and noticing my anxiety calming down after the shopping, I realized one thing that could have helped mitigate my stress during the shopping.

If everything I got was pre-packed, I could have shortened my shopping time a lot and didn’t have to spend much time in the store, hence, less stress.

I know I’m not making much sense as I am the one who chose to do the shopping at the BYOB store but, that’s why I thought packaging is essential at times and simply going packaging-free should not be a solution we aim for.

Packaging-free conscious people including myself can lead a packaging-free life all we want by bringing our own bags with us everytime we shop, only buy things with reusable or recyclable packaging and hoping that other people will follow us as long as we stick to it and keep talking about it. But “our” population is so little and I am pretty sure it is not enough to tackle climate change which needs to be dealt with seriously and immediately.

What I mean is that the plastic packaging in major supermarket chains must be either removed or replaced with biodegradable packaging or some sort, which shouldn’t be difficult to do as biodegradable packaging already exists and is in use for some items in our local stores.

Even though I’d always believed that replacing plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging or at least recyclable packaging was the most needed action, at the same time, I thought it would never be an option in the near future as it had never been in the past decade.

Well, time has come.

BYOB stores are great and I love their spirit and I will continue shopping for my groceries package free as much as possible and bringing my own bags with me when I shop. But it should not be the way we shop forever and it is definitely not for everyone. Number of those stores are limited, you need to create a bit more time for your shopping and there are items that need packaging.

Now, we have the advanced technology and science to make alternatives so why don’t we use it.

We know that it is difficult to change people’s behaviour as we now see that a pandemic had to take place to change it! So why not skip pandemics and let the technology and science solve such simple issues like replacing plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging and simultaneously let everyone to effortlessly tackle climate change!