Saturday, 24 November 2018

Why should I support local, when local doesn't support the environment?

This is a subject that really grates on me, and if I allow myself to think about it too much I want to gather some fellow environmentally aware people, and stage some sort of protest outside these little shops in a bid to open their eyes!

Big companies often feel pressure from the government to clean up their act and show how they are taking measures to minimise their impact. We are living in the era when plastic consumption is rife, and awareness on how we can and should be reducing it is being documented everywhere. Yet when I walk into a very busy local food shop in Chelmsford I am constantly met with their total ignorance to the impact they are making to this issue, and it really angers me to the point where I don't feel I should support them.

On the couple of occasions I've asked what ingredients are in their packaged food the young girl behind the counter gawks at me like I've got 2 heads!
Now I could be entirely wrong but it doesn't seem ethical to be selling food without a clue what's in it, what about it containing allergens? I happen to think they have a duty of care to their customers to be able to inform them what's in their food and I'm pretty disgusted that they don't feel it important to do so. They regularly put items out on their shelves with no label whatsoever, so I guess customers are supposed to guess the contents?

My next issue is plastic upon plastic, everything this shop sells is packaged in so much plastic. This place seems to be a popular choice amongst local workers for lunch options; sandwiches, salads and such, and from the huge piles of packaged food they always have in their chillers they appear to be selling it in boatloads yet they don't feel any responsibility to package it in a less harmful manner.

Every sandwich and salad is in a cheap vile plastic package and every meal meant to be heated is in a plastic box. The sheer amount of waste that this one local shop is creating is truly shocking, and I don't know how I'm supposed to get behind a place like this and support it.

My latest gripe with particular shop came when I went in on a recent Saturday morning to get a cup of coffee. They do serve soya milk which I will always appreciate small shops doing, however I always try to use my own reusable cup when getting take away coffee and this day was like any other. I asked for a soya latte and handed the man my cup, he then turned to the coffee machine and proceeded to use a PAPER CUP to make the espresso in!!! I couldn't believe my eyes, was this person really going to waste a paper cup to make espresso, when on top of the coffee machine they have piles of china cups. But yes, that is exactly what he did! He then poured the espresso into my cup, and threw the paper cup into the bin! I was utterly dumbfounded and couldn't help myself saying something to him. When he handed me the coffee I said "you know it defeats the purpose of me using a reusable cup if you are going to make the espresso in a paper cup and throw it away anyway!" To which he looked at me blankly and said "ok". I would place a bet that it went in one ear and out the other!

We are encouraged to support local as it's good for the local economy, but the problem with local independent stores is they don't really have to answer to anyone or be seen to investing in or looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint the same as the big companies do. A lot of the local run shops are the worst culprits for waste and terrible packaging. They fall under the radar of the 5p plastic bag charge, don't encourage people to use their own bags, and don't support reducing take away cups the same as the big coffee shop chains do. They may think they are small and their impact is minimal, but if you take all of the small coffee shops and sandwich shops across even one town the amount of waste they are producing will be as much as any of the chains.

What can we do? I've thought about writing a letter to the stores and suggesting they make changes, if they have a conscience they might consider making them. We can only try.

If you are wondering why I'm harping on about plastic, this is a good site to go and have a look at to get an idea of why it's so important: The Plastic Tide

I also wrote about the benefits of buying and using your own cup for take away coffee here.




If you are in the market for a reusable coffee cup so you can take advantage of the 25p discount on your morning coffee then check out my top picks below.









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