Eco-Challenge Update: Giving Up the Big Supermarkets

Eco-Challenge Update: Giving Up the Big Supermarkets

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socarates

At the beginning of the year, I set my new years resolution: To give up the “Big Supermarkets”, Coles and Woolworths and support my local farmers and grocery suppliers.

Most people wouldn’t consider giving the supermarket giants up even if they wanted to, as these two brands are found in almost every corner of Australia and stock thousands of food brands. They make it so convenient for people to shop for food that I don’t blame people for wanting to shop there.

However my increasing dislike for how Coles and Woolworths were doing business—bullying suppliers to sign contracts—made it easy for me to stop shopping there.

How the household is doing so far.

With only 5 weeks until the end of the year, I am happy to report that we’ve (my partner and I) are achieving our goal. In fact, we’ve found it easy to give up the big supermarkets.

Here’s how we’ve been able to achieve this:

  • We grow most of the fruit and vegetables we eat. Currently we grow about 40 varieties of fruit and vegetables (thanks to the help of my father-in-law!)


  • If we need to purchase produce because we’ve either run out or forgot to raise seedlings in time, we go to our nearest green grocer, a business run by a family who grow their produce locally.
  • We will shop at the local IGA (Independent Grocers of Australia) for meat, deli and other food items that aren’t available at our local grocer.
  • We make as many items as possible such as beer, sauces, bread, cleaning products, beauty products and pet spray.

While we are achieving our New Years resolution now, I am going to come clean: I shopped at Woolworths.

The only time it’s happened, but it did happen. Here’s what happened.

Even eco-conscious girls drop the green ball.

A month ago I flew to Melbourne for a close friends hen’s weekend. I miscalculated the “time of month” so of course, didn’t pack my menstrual cup thinking I had another week up my sleeve. A couple of nights into the trip, my period arrived. I was ill-prepared so in my time of emergency I visited the supermarket nearest my family home (I was staying with my parents) on a desperate search for tampons.

Unsurprisingly, the supermarket didn’t stock TOM eco-friendly tampons or any other eco-friendly sanitary items so I had to purchase a tampon brand I was less familiar with and disapproved of philosophically, but would save me from humiliation.

It was only whilst drinking coffee the next morning that I realised that I had stepped into a Woolworths supermarket. Drats. Rather than kicking myself, I accepted that I had made an error in judgement. It was a first world problem and wasn’t the end of the world. So I made a mistake, big deal. Plus my hands were tied: I needed tampons and I needed them urgently. The mistake was justified.

So the moral of the story is: Pack your menstrual cup anyway. You never know when flow will come to town when you’re out of town!

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