Zero Waste Shopping in Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

We are fortunate that Central Bedfordshire accepts a large variety of food packaging for recycling but plastics tend to be hard to recycle, can mainly only be downcycled, and can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill ( or in the oceans).  Plastics then hang around pretty much forever ( How long does it take a plastic bottle to biodegrade?).  They are also made of non renewable oil and potentially leach toxins into your food.  We have therefore been trying to reduce not only our landfill waste, but our recyclables too, particularly trying to avoid single use plastics.  This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but over the last couple of years we have managed to reduce our landfill waste by over 80% and our recycling by about 50%.  This post is about just one of the ways of avoiding packaging waste, by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place, and focusses on the places that, after a change in my shopping habits, I find this easy to do for grocery and household items in my home town of Leighton Buzzard.  If you know of other local shops that should be included please do let me know.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


I now try to buy food, and other items, unpackaged whenever possible.  This tends to be easier when shopping at the local market and independent shops than in the supermarket, although the supermarkets usually have some loose fruit and veg – remember to bring your own bags or containers, and most supermarkets now also allow you to bring a container to the meat, fish and deli counters, a big positive change since I first wrote this post. Meal planning and a shopping list will help you have a good idea of how many bags/containers to bring along.  Some of my personal favourites for buying unpackaged items are featured here.

Leighton Buzzard Market:

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg – on the South side of the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Happy to place fruit and veg directly into your own bags.

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market
Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market

Other market traders are also often happy to sell into your own containers – just ask nicely at the start of your purchase.  It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  I have done this several times at the olive stall at the top of the High Street and at the Delisha samosa stall, a cake stall and at the other fruit and veg stall.  The fish van indicated he would be happy to do this too.

The farmers market and craft markets are also a good place to ask.  Check the market website for the dates of each.   Bucks Star Brewery visits the farmers each month and take their glass eco -growlers back and give you a full one at a discount, whilst the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company sells refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road. The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.

16864435_10210908767568510_7007334062055417694_n
Refillable eco growler from the farmers’ market
20171118_101831
Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company stall at the monthly farmers market.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

House of Coffee – Peacock Mews.  This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container.  I began by taking in a plastic lunch box but having since acquired lots of empty large Douwe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site I use one of those, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit.  We then store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available.  A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers.  Loose tea is also available.

16865081_10210907728302529_7980541323627234896_n
House of Coffee – Peacock Mews

Selections – High Street A variety of hardware items from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which has replaced the plastic bottles of fizzy water we used to buy every week, and saved us money.

20180130_111611

Natures Harvest – North Street  Sells unpackaged soap and refills for Ecover laundry and washing up liquid. Also stocks bamboo toothbrushes, Ecoleaf toilet roll in compostable packaging and lots of other eco friendly products.   Although many of the food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives.

20171123_103831[1]

16864669_10210907727942520_3292370890055820345_n

Oliver Adams Bakers- Market Square  Bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container. The Co-Op – Waterdell off Brooklands Drive has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.

20180130_105844

Strattons Butchers – Market Square .  If you eat meat ask Strattons to sell it you without any single use plastic.  I ask them to weigh it on the waxed paper sheets they use and then transfer in to my own container, which they are happy to do.

20180130_105814

Model Farm – Hockliffe Road If you are passing ( heading out of town past the garden centre) this is a great place to buy free range eggs.  We return the boxes for reuse when we next visit. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

20180217_131557

Pecks Farm – Towards Hockliffe – we have our milk delivered in returnable glass bottles by Pecks Farm.  It does cost more so is one of our more recent changes, but we have offset the additional cost by savings made elsewhere in our waste reduction journey.  The farm also sells a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
Loose produce – image kindly supplied by Pecks Farm

You can still find some unpackaged options in the supermarket – it does vary but locally I find Tesco tends to have the most unpackaged fruit and veg.  Morrisons and Waitrose also sells loose rolls, croissants and cakes – I use my own bag or container where these are self service but have not been able to do this at the counter.

16681720_10210907726862493_1359553675519900306_n
Mmm, which potatoes will I choose?

 

Since I first published this post there have been some new additions to the zero waste shopping options:

The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street – very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!

 

20180130_105344

Clipstone Dairy – Clipstone – has a milk vending machine.  I haven’t used it yet but understand they will sell you a bottle you can reuse but are also quite happy for you to bring along your own bottle to fill.

 

And if you need a coffee to take away while you are out and about, both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug.  If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from anywhere, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups?

Have you shopped packaging free anywhere else locally? Please let me know.  Leighton Buzzard is coming soon to the Zero Waste App available at the App Store and Google Play.

For more ways to reduce your household waste you can read:

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

For the local circular economy:

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

Now , do you still need to put that bin out?

Did you know that you can now follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where I share some of our daily waste saving in more regular short posts?  Please do sign up.

To read more about some of the other ways we have gradually reduced our waste:

16807726_10210907726622487_2055995162207271710_n

 

 

 

 

Zero Waste Shopping in Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

We are fortunate that Central Bedfordshire accepts a large variety of food packaging for recycling but plastics tend to be hard to recycle, can mainly only be downcycled, and can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill ( or in the oceans).  Plastics then hang around pretty much forever ( How long does it take a plastic bottle to biodegrade?).  They are also made of non renewable oil and potentially leach toxins into your food.  We have therefore been trying to reduce not only our landfill waste, but our recyclables too, particularly trying to avoid single use plastics.  This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but over the last couple of years we have managed to reduce our landfill waste by over 80% and our recycling by about 50%.  This post is about just one of the ways of avoiding packaging waste, by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place, and focusses on the places that, after a change in my shopping habits, I find this easy to do for grocery and household items in my home town of Leighton Buzzard.  If you know of other local shops that should be included please do let me know.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


I now try to buy food, and other items, unpackaged whenever possible.  This tends to be easier when shopping at the local market and independent shops than in the supermarket, although the supermarkets usually have some loose fruit and veg – remember to bring your own bags or containers. Meal planning and a shopping list will help you have a good idea of how many bags/containers to bring along.  Some of my personal favourites for buying unpackaged items are featured here.

Leighton Buzzard Market:

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg – on the South side of the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Happy to place fruit and veg directly into your own bags.

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market
Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market

Other market traders are also often happy to sell into your own containers – just ask nicely at the start of your purchase.  It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  I have done this several times at the olive stall at the top of the High Street and at the Delisha samosa stall, a cake stall and at the other fruit and veg stall.  The fish van indicated he would be happy to do this too.

The farmers market and craft markets are also a good place to ask.  Check the market website for the dates of each.   Bucks Star Brewery visits the farmers each month and take their glass eco -growlers back and give you a full one at a discount, whilst the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company sells refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road. The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.

16864435_10210908767568510_7007334062055417694_n
Refillable eco growler from the farmers’ market
20171118_101831
Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company stall at the monthly farmers market.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

House of Coffee – Peacock Mews.  This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container.  I began by taking in a plastic lunch box but having since acquired lots of empty large Douwe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site I use one of those, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit.  We then store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available.  A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers.  Loose tea is also available.

16865081_10210907728302529_7980541323627234896_n
House of Coffee – Peacock Mews

Selections – High Street A variety of hardware items from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which has replaced the plastic bottles of fizzy water we used to buy every week, and saved us money.

20180130_111611

Natures Harvest – North Street  Sells unpackaged soap and refills for Ecover laundry and washing up liquid. Also stocks bamboo toothbrushes, Ecoleaf toilet roll in compostable packaging and lots of other eco friendly products.   Although many of the food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives.

20171123_103831[1]

16864669_10210907727942520_3292370890055820345_n

Oliver Adams Bakers- Market Square  Bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container. The Co-Op – Waterdell off Brooklands Drive has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.

20180130_105844

Strattons Butchers – Market Square .  If you eat meat ask Strattons to sell it you without any single use plastic.  I ask them to weigh it on the waxed paper sheets they use and then transfer in to my own container, which they are happy to do.

20180130_105814

Model Farm – Hockliffe Road If you are passing ( heading out of town past the garden centre) this is a great place to buy free range eggs.  We return the boxes for reuse when we next visit. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

20180217_131557

Pecks Farm – Towards Hockliffe – we have our milk delivered in returnable glass bottles by Pecks Farm.  It does cost more so is one of our more recent changes, but we have offset the additional cost by savings made elsewhere in our waste reduction journey.  The farm also sells a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
Loose produce – image kindly supplied by Pecks Farm

You can still find some unpackaged options in the supermarket – it does vary but locally I find Tesco tends to have the most unpackaged fruit and veg.  Morrisons and Waitrose also sells loose rolls, croissants and cakes – I use my own bag or container where these are self service but have not been able to do this at the counter.

16681720_10210907726862493_1359553675519900306_n
Mmm, which potatoes will I choose?

 

Since I first published this post there have been some new additions to the zero waste shopping options:

The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street – very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!

 

20180130_105344

Clipstone Dairy – Clipstone – has a milk vending machine.  I haven’t used it yet but understand they will sell you a bottle you can reuse but are also quite happy for you to bring along your own bottle to fill.

 

And if you need a coffee to take away while you are out and about, both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug.  If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from anywhere, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups?

Have you shopped packaging free anywhere else locally? Please let me know.  Leighton Buzzard is coming soon to the Zero Waste App available at the App Store and Google Play.

For more ways to reduce your household waste you can read:

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

For the local circular economy:

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

Now , do you still need to put that bin out?

Did you know that you can now follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where I share some of our daily waste saving in more regular short posts?  Please do sign up.

To read more about some of the other ways we have gradually reduced our waste:

16807726_10210907726622487_2055995162207271710_n

 

 

 

 

Mixed successes in avoiding plastic – Plastic Free July.

So, since starting out with plastic free July I really haven’t had time to sit and write – instead I have been sharing some pictures of some of my plastic free efforts over on Instagram which is easier to do as I go along. Do pop over and have a look.

My 2 initial pledges were to replace plastic wrapped snacks such as crisps, and to find a local milk delivery in glass bottles.

Well, so far so good.  We had our first glass bottle milk delivery last Monday.  There is no denying that it is considerably more expensive than plastic bottled supermarket milk, but the additional cost is more than offset by the saving we have made since we swapped from individual plastic bottles of fizzy water to a Soda Stream back in September.  And it somehow seems really nice to open the fridge and see a couple of glass bottles with nice green foil lids.  Plus, we are supporting a local dairy.

Finding a feasible regular alternative to crisps and other plastic wrapped snacks has been a little harder, although I have managed not to buy any more once I finished off the couple of bags in the cupboard already.  In the first week I was really enthusiastic and made flatbreads, cut into triangles and baked with cajun spices and  popcorn – seasoned with a little melted butter, salt and plenty of black pepper.  In the second week I managed to buy cashew nuts loose (into a reused plastic bag – most suitable thing I could manage to find) to last me the couple of days in the office.  But I can only buy them near my work, not near my home which means my half hour lunch break was pretty much taken up with getting these.  In the 3rd week, things were getting really busy at work so I didn’t have a chance to buy nuts.  I baked some cake at home but then had no time or energy to make savoury snacks too so ended up taking along the spare crusts cut off son’s sandwiches as an extra filler – it did stop me being hungry but was a bit dull as snacks go.  I had one go at making my own crisps but managed to burn them and even the burnt ones were soft rather than crispy by the time I wanted them at work the next day – so I clearly need to practice this!

I haven’t asked the rest of the family to join in with giving up crisps etc but my son did enjoy popcorn in his packed lunch a few times instead of usual crisps.  Another week I gave him tortilla chips from a larger bag for less pro-rata plastic but he got bored with that after a couple of days and didn’t eat them.

At the start my husband forgot and bought home plastic wrapped chocolate a few times – but now he is remembering to look for the card or paper packaged ones which are fairly easy to find.

Looking back at the instagram pictures has helped me see how many plastic free things I have managed including:

  • Switching to glass bottled milk
  • Washing my hair with gram flour and vinegar
  • Using lemon balm from the garden to substitute some cups of tea, and drying some to use later on
  • Making yoghurt in my Wonderbag
  • Accidentally making granola – started out trying to make some raw energy bites ( oats, honey dried fruit and seeds) but I just couldn’t get them to stick together so baked the crumbly mess instead and it tasted great.
  • Making sweet and savoury popcorn ( the kernels were in a plastic bag but makes lots of portions) – my favourite is to coat in a little melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Making flatbreads, and baking some into “tortilla chips” seasoned with Low Salt Cajun Spice Mix
  • Buying a lovely bar soap in a card box
  • Buying fruit and veg from the market in my own cloth bags, as usual
  • Buying coca cola – which we buy quite rarely – in glass bottles
  • Only buying paper wrapped chocolate
  • Buying loose nuts
  • Finding that a local shop sells recycled toilet roll in compostable packaging – with no plastic!

I’m quite pleased with that and although I am not going to promise never to eat shop bought crisps, I will be making some of these changes on a more regular/permanent basis.  Next I am going to try loose tea to avoid the plastic in the bags.  I already buy our coffee this way and the same shop sells loose tea so will be trying that this afternoon.

When I wrote this last week we were about to go off to a festival which I suspected would rather ruin my plastic free efforts – more about that in another post as this one’s getting rather lengthy.

Plastic Free July – starting out

So , you may or may not have already heard about plastic free July.   Although I had heard it mentioned over the last few months, I was reluctant to sign up – we have already reduced our waste, including plastic, a lot over the last year, but we are still very far from plastic free.  Totally plastic free just sounded a little too scary.  So I was relieved to see a post on Facebook referring to it being about the plastic you manage to avoid, not what you still use.  That was just the bit of wriggle room I needed to get on board!

There is lots of information about plastic free July, and plastic free living in general over at plastic is rubbish. 

We have already made changes to significantly reduce our plastic waste, some in the last year, others for longer.   I have described some of these in previous posts including:

Waste and money saving since Zero Waste Week

Giving up Shampoo

Reducing waste in the bathroom

Now I need to think about what new swaps I can make for plastic free July, in the hope of getting the level of waste in our recycling bin down to the small level we now have in our landfill bin (thanks to our local authority taking almost all food packaging for recycling).

My initial tasks to reduce my own use of plastic here are to:

  • Find plastic free alternatives to crisps/savoury snacks to help me avoid these for the month..
  • Investigate local options for milk delivery ( we have used local milkman in the past but it was in plastic and they foten struggled to provide organic so more research needed here to see if there are alternatives).

If you are joining this challenge, I’d love to hear about any great plastic free finds.

I’ll be getting to grips with Instagram to share some of my plastic free swaps as I go along (@busygreenmum) as well as via the Twitter and Facebook links you can find at the top of the page.