Shopping Small - An Introduction

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I have made a resolution. Not a new year’s resolution, just a February resolution. For the next month I will be shopping small.  What does this mean I hear you ask? It means that I will not buy anything from a Coles or a Woolworths. Why? For a variety of reasons…

Transport activities hurt the planet significantly. Whether it be transporting food across the country, or across the world, there are significant costs both financially and environmentally. Most of the foods in a major supermarket are bought en masse due to the buying power they command, so there is little chance that they are produced locally and instead have travelled long distances to arrive on the shelves. As an alternative, if produce can be bought locally, it means that is has had a much shorter distance to travel, reducing transport costs and lessening the environmental impact.

I also believe it is important to support our local farmers and producers. The stories of Coles and Woolworths using staple items like bread and milk as loss leaders have been around for a long time. By selling milk for $1 a litre, the supermarkets have squeezed out any margins the dairy producers would have made and forcing many of them to leave the industry due to unsustainable circumstances. I am guilty of purchasing this cheap milk on most occasions purely due to the impact on my wallet, but when I think about the bigger picture, I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to ensure that we do not kill the dairy industry in Australia. Of course this situation applies to many of the food industries, whether it be the bakers, the fruiterers, or for the non vegetarians, the butchers and the fishmongers.

Often buying from the smaller retailers means that you may have to pay slightly higher prices, but it also means that you go into a specific shop to buy a specific item. There have been so many instances when I have gone into Coles to buy one item, let’s say some cheese, and in the process walked based half a dozen displays with things on special. In the end, I bought not only the cheese but also some chocolate, some biscuits, maybe a tub of ice cream, some toothpaste and probably a punnet of strawberries. Yes, they were on special, but were they necessary? Probably not. On the contrary, if I was to go to a deli to buy cheese, none of the other items would be around to distract me, so potentially I would be saving, or rather not spending money on items I didn’t need.

Of course there are some items that are difficult to buy from anywhere other than a supermarket. Basic staples like flour or sugar, or cleaning items like garbage bags. For these items, I have decided to shop at IGA. IGA supermarkets operate as independent franchises and thus support the local community, which aligns with part of the reason I am trying to avoid Coles and Woolworths. I will try and limit the amount I buy at IGA, but I know that some things will be unavoidable.

Shopping small will involve a significant amount of planning. Small businesses are often not open for extended hours, so I will need to plan out my meals for the week and make sure I do a bulk load of shopping on the weekends. This will probably be advantageous is many regards too. It should mean that food doesn’t go to waste, and that I don’t come home and have no idea what to make for dinner! I also plan to pre make lunches for the week, which is always handy, and means I will be eating relatively healthy.

I will be documenting my shopping small adventures weekly on this blog, so tune in to see what works and what doesn’t! And if you’re extra keen, follow my hashtag on Instagram, #ShoppingSmallWithMoni!

Have you ever tried Shopping Small? How did you find the experience?


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