Something Jane and I are trying this month is to avoid big supermarkets. The aim is not eschew them altogether; supermarkets certainly come with ethical baggage, like the way they drive out smaller businesses and use all manner of psychological tricks to encourage us to buy what we don’t need and will probably waste, but, when working well, they do invest in local areas and drive innovation in production and logistics.
I think our biggest challenge will be that supermarkets are open long hours and (with a car) are easily accessible. Can we find the time to get our shopping done if we can’t squeeze it into the dog-end of a day? Also, what about goods like fairtrade bananas or recycled toilet paper? Those are pretty easy to track down in most large supermarkets but, along with quite a few other things that frequently make the shopping list, it will take a while to figure out what we can get elsewhere and what substitutions or compromises have to be made.
We aren’t going completely hardcore with this plan. For example, what makes a supermarket? We’re going to avoid going into any of the national chains and we are also going to bend the rules further by making an exception for the Co-op (their structure is a conglomeration of regional co-operative groups, many fitting well into local communities; there are a couple of medium-sized stores that should bail us out on “essentials” we can’t track down reasonably elsewhere). We might also allow an online order to get a load of non-perishable and non-food items.
If we can make it work for a month, we might press on with the supermarket-lite experiment for longer; I will report back.