Naked shopping and using the brain God gave you.

I mentioned about a year ago – probablly with tears in my eyes – that unpackaged moved to my old street almost the day we left.

For a year I was looking for a place to buy groceries naked and then, just as they move in, I move out.

I now regularly cycle past unpackaged as part of my job and assumed that I would pop in and buy bits from time to time but it never really worked out that way.

Once or twice on my half day I loaded a load of empty glass cannisters and bottles into my pannier. Cycled 8 miles to work then cycled to the Lido, had a swim and then filled up my containers at unpackaged.  Realising that I was too late to take my laden down bike on the train. (For some reason they get a bit grumpy when you try to take a bike on a rush hour train????! Who would have guessed. ) I then had to cycle 8 miles home again.

I was a bit tired


I was freaking knackered. As in, “get me some chips right now I think I’m going to pass out on the sofa and wake up next May” sort of tired.

For some reason I never repeated the experience.

Last week I tried again. We’ve been running low on cooking oil and I’m convinced that there is a stall at Brockley market that lets you refill olive oil bottles from big kegs. I’m sure I saw them months ago but despite hopefully taking bottles along each week I’ve never seen them since.
Perhaps I imagined the stall. Perhaps it was a ghost stall. Who knows. Its not there and we’re still short of oil.

Last week chris asked if I could maybe do an unpackaged run to get oil and I had a whinge about the whole cycling with heavy glass cannisters, being terrified they would break and needing 5 years to recover problem.
He looked confused and asked “couldn’t you just take plastic tubs and decant them when you get home” I stared at him … and stared a bit more. Of course I could do that but I hadn’t.

Word up for glass.
Its pretty
Its easy to wash
It doesn’t absorb smells from things and pass them on to other things
Its pretty
Its see-through so you can see what’s inside without opening endless containers
Its pretty
Its very energy efficient to recycle  Its pretty much inert when its thrown out.  Think sand – a substance so dangerous you let your kids play with it. Obviously only after the sharp edges have worn off! What are you? A child endangering psychopath? But seriously, once glass is blunt then its basically pebbles.
Oh and did I mention, its pretty.


All this is great but the flip side is that glass is super heavy.  Its expensive and energy inefficient to drive about the world.

A way round this is local bottling plants coupled with bottle return deposits. I once lived with a guy obsessed by Irn Bru. He was the least likely recycler I’ve ever met and a pretry laid back stoner type.But throw out an empty Bru bottle and you discovered just how angry he could get. He got a whole 20p from taking each bottle back to the corner shop.


Consequently our kitchen was full of empty soft drink bottles which he basically used as a savings account. Annoying but pretty impressive.

After my epic glass laden cycles I didn’t need telling how heavy glass was. To be honest I didn’t really need telling before either. So why didn’t I just take plastic pots and decant? Why, in other words, was I not using the brain that God gave me? Probably because it sounded like a hassel to do all that decanting back home. But reality check! More hassel than cycling 16 miles with a pannier full of glass? Not a chance.

So last week I took one glass bottle for the oil but also took couple of plastic pots.


Its really silly but I quite enjoyed it. For some reason I get a real kick out of filling containers with things, even if its just porridge oats or something equally uninspiring. I’m prepared to admit that its probably just the novelty factor but I don’t care. I love it.

So despite using fugly plastic Tupperware I felt great and I didn’t have to cycle miles across town with a load of glass.


And actually decanting the stuff was no bother. So after about 5 minutes of faff, during which I managed to tidy all our kitchen jars and spices, my fugly Tupperware had been replaced by pretty glass.



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