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What is your favorite supermarket to go to for your groceries? Why do you prefer that shop in particular? Most of us will usually look for two aspects when deciding which supermarket to go to today: The location and whether the prices are affordable to fit into our limited student’s budget.
If I am being very honest with you, I usually just go to Albert Heijn that is two minutes away from my flat. However, sometimes shopping there can be really frustrating. For some reason this supermarket chain loves packing certain items in plastic – for no apparent reason. I will wash that eggplant or broccoli anyways, so why can’t I just buy it without the unnecessary plastic wrapping? Other veggies are only sold already cut and in another plastic package. So, even though I always bring my reusable bags to my local supermarket, sometimes I end up carrying them home empty again because everything was already packed.
Could I prevent this by shopping at a different supermarket? And what would be the price difference? In this week’s blogpost we want to answer exactly that question. In which supermarket can you shop and produce the smallest amount of plastic waste? Therefore, some of our commissioners went to their go-to supermarket to buy these ingredients needed to make a simple vegetarian curry:
- 1 onion
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 broccoli
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 2 carrots
- Coconut milk
These are the results from our little experiment …
Ekoplaza – a plastic-free (but expensive) paradise
The vegetable department from this supermarket chain is completely free from plastic wrapping. Our commissioner was able to purchase all the veggies loose and could decide whether she wanted to use her own reusable bags or pack the food in one of the biodegradable bags this shop offers. In total, Alex spent 9.54 € on all the ingredients.
The unsuccessful search for sweet potatoes at Aldi
Jasmann, who tested Aldi for us, was able to spend way less on her groceries. However, that may be due to the fact that she was unable to find sweet potatoes, carrots or coconut milk. All of these ingredients were sold out. On top of that, every single vegetable she bought was wrapped in plastic (sadly). In total, the commissioner spent 4.08 € on her groceries.
Cheap and almost plastic-free veggies at the Haagse Markt
If you are lucky enough to live close to the Haagse Markt, this is the place to go to shop your fresh veggies (and fruits). Nina paid only 4.70€ for this pile of colorful vegetables of which she only could not find unwrapped broccoli. However, you will not find ingredients like coconut milk and chickpeas there, so it cannot replace your trip to the supermarket entirely. I’ve heard that they sell amazing soft chocolate chip cookies there though if you need another reason to invest your time and bike there.
Jumbo – where vegetables come wrapped as gift
It seems that this supermarket chain believes that sweet potatoes and carrots in fact make a great birthday gift. That is the only explanation – I could come up with at least – for why they would pack almost every fresh ingredient in plastic bags. Still, Jumbo had all the ingredients we were looking for and it was 1.71 € cheaper than Ekoplaza for which Leo payed a sum of 7.83 € in total.
Albert Heijn – somewhere between zero waste and groceries on a budget
Finally, Dylan went to Albert Heijn to shop for his curry. While the carrots and broccoli were still packed in plastic, he could at least buy the bell pepper and the sweet potato unwrapped. He did buy the tomatoes with plastic wrapping as well, however, at least next to uni you can also buy them with your reusable bags. The price of 8.54 € was reasonable but not exceptionally cheap. A compromise for everyday?
In the end, you have to decide what is most important to you of course. Are you particularly stressed out because exams are coming up? Then you might not be able to make it to the Haagse Markt to buy your fresh ingredients. Do you have to save money because you went out one too many times this month? Probably, you won’t be able to afford going to Ekoplaza then.
Generally, the best way to buy cheap and plastic-free veggies would probably be to take the time and bike to the Haagse Markt once a week. You can buy your fruits and veggies for the whole week ahead of you and only go to the other supermarkets in order to buy pasta, tomato sauce or soy yoghurt (and chocolate of course).
I hope you enjoyed reading this! Don’t hesitate to email us if you have any suggestions on how to shop sustainably and cheaply. Our email address is email@example.com.
Written by CIROS Goodwill Commissioner Lara Schade