On Saturday I made a trip to the St Georges street market in Belfast to have a go at my first zero waste shop. Being new to this lifestyle I am still inadequately equipped to do this properly, but to begin with I took,

- An old Ikea recycled bag
- A large jar. 

It went quite well all things considered. 

I managed to find 2 stalls of particular interest. The first was a store that sells nuts, dried fruits, and seeds loose. Luckily they had rice too. I filled up my Jar with them and came away with about 3.5kg of rice for £7.

There was a lot of vegetable and fruit stalls. Five in total, but only one I counted as being locally sourced and plastic free. I bought, 
-Butternut squash
-3 Lettuce
-2 Onions
-1 Leek
-3 Portobello Mushrooms
-2 Peppers
-2 Broccoli
And finally about 6 potatos.
All for £14.


Was it cheaper? 
Not really. . . Not if you are buying the cheapest vegetables in the supermarket. If you are buying organic produce however, It is comparable. (All of the produce on this market stall was organic). If you can afford it, I would recommend it. You are paying slightly more to support local farmers, local business and to create a more sustainable environment. 

What have I learnt?
That in this day and age, sometimes we cannot be completely perfect, we have all gotten used to having everything all the time, and I am no different. Those peppers for instance, at this time of year, are likely to have come from the giant greenhouses in Holland. That operate at huge expense in terms of their consumption. But, on the other hand, I like peppers. 
The difference is these peppers are organic, they are plastic free and they are supporting a local business. Pros and Cons. 

What will I try next visit?
I hope to bring a lot more containers next time and have a much more well rounded shop. At this market they had cheese and dairy stores where I might be able to buy cheese, eggs and maybe even butter without packaging. They had olive stores where I might be able to buy sauces (pesto and the like) in my own jars, as well as cooking oils. The fish stores sold seaweed loose. Something I am very keen to try. There where bakers selling fresh breads and cakes without packaging. And many other stalls to take my custom too. 

How do I intend to supplement these essentials with other products?
At the moment I am looking at different options. The most likely at the moment for all my other essentials will be to get a wholesaler card. There is a company called SUMA that focuses on ethically sourced, organic produce and they sell it in bulk to shops. It is possible if you spend a certain amount on your first purchase to buy with them. (£200 i believe). In bulk, i will inherently be using less packaging which is a good start until I can find an alternative 'no packaging' option. Through SUMA I should be able to buy everything else, pastas, spices, cleaning products. (An area that I intend to do a future article on). And have everything I need to maintain the diet that I currently have. 

All the best.