Are the Co-operative helping protect the environment?

It’s not unusual to find Small Footprints knocking on the door of my conscience and this week’s Change the World Wednesday is no exception.

The challenge reads “This week, pick a food item which you normally buy in a package (especially a plastic package) and find a better alternative.

For example, rather than buy beans in a plastic bag, look for them in the bulk isle of the market and fill your own container. Rather than buy produce in plastic “clam shells”, see if you can find them loose, without packaging.

If you typically shop at a supermarket (where almost everything is packaged in plastic) consider shopping at a farmer’s market, food co-op, wholesale market or organic food store for better options. The idea, here, is to find at least one “green” alternative to plastic packaging.

Or …

If, in your area, you find it nearly impossible to buy food which isn’t packaged in plastic, please speak to your market’s owner/manager to see if they can offer any alternatives. Talk to neighbors and members of the community to search out options.”

This is perfect timing but I’m not exploring food, I’m tackling something else…

I’ve been struggling to find an eco friendly laundry powder that works. I need to use bio because Little Miss Green is a mud magnet and we have hard water. Soapnuts or non bio products just don’t work effectively.

I was excited to find a new product in my local co-operative: an ecological bio concentrated washing powder. On the front of the pack it states “We’re helping protect the environment” and at just over £3 a pack I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I can’t rate this product highly enough. It has a great smell (virtually undetectable, just the way I like it), it doesn’t get clogged in the drawer, it rinses well and most importantly it works! I’ve never been a ‘white whites’ gal but I do like us to look clean and presentable.

My moment of shock came when I had to get rid of the packaging. I was horrified to see “7 – other” on the pack! This is particularly dis-empowering as number 7 is used for plastic resins that don’t fit neatly into other categories. This means it could be made from virtually anything or combination of plastics and is non-recyclable in the UK.

I’d actually thrown the plastic packaging away (repeat after me “There’s no such place as away”) so when Small Footprint’s challenge came through for this week I knew exactly what I needed to do. I retrieved the packaging from the bin, put pen to paper and wrote the Co-Operative a letter expressing my dismay at their thoughtlessness along with a couple of suggestions for improvement.

I’m awaiting their response – watch this space!


  1. cassie on September 19, 2012 at 4:21 am

    i hear rockin’ green laundry detergent is awesome! i have yet to try them, but we’re running low on soap, so i will be soon!

  2. Green Steve on September 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Wow, that is quite a shock coming from the Co-op, they are usually so good at things like this but #7 – are you kidding me? Did nobody at their HQ question this when it went through product testing?

    I am presuming they have product testers and if they do, surely the environmental impact of a product should be a part of the test?

    I look forward to seeing their response.