The other night I went to the supermarket to pick up a few things for dinner.

Eggplant was a key ingredient for the salad but I couldn't see them anywhere. I spent ages looking up and down the aisles and was starting to rethink the dinner option when I saw them.

No wonder I missed them - instead of sitting there, gleaming and luscious in all their purple aubergineness, they were in a plastic bag. Not only that - they were in a plastic tray in a plastic bag.

Double bagged.


The chillies I needed were also in a plastic bag and so, too, was the mint.

In an age when we're supposed to be reducing, reusing and recycling, all that plastic seemed excessive.

If the greengrocer across the road had been open, I would have bought my veges - bare - there. What is the point of all this plastic? Mushrooms on trays, covered in plastic. Same with courgettes. The picture of the orange in Sideswipe, peeled and packaged, is another example. Completely unnecessary.

Oranges come in their own perfect package. As do bananas. And yet even they have been covered in plastic and presented for sale.

I don't consider myself a mad greeny but I hate waste.

And I don't like the idea of being responsible for more plastic at the tip than I absolutely have to generate.

When I asked why the eggplants had been packaged, I was told that plastic will keep them fresher longer.

And the reason for putting organic fruit and veg into plastic packaging is so they're not tainted by less-pure apples and carrots, those that have been treated with chemicals.


So it's for our own good.

Some consumers have a less charitable view. One suggested it was to hide the veges that are going off - if you put the bruised ones under plastic, people can't inspect and discard them.

Oranges come in their own perfect package. As do bananas. And yet even they have been covered in plastic.

Others said it was to encourage people to buy more. If you need just one of an item, but you can only buy three in a packet, you'll end up buying more than you need.

There are ways around all this plastic, I know.

You can go to shops where the produce is loose. You can order fruit and veg online and have it delivered in a big cardboard box. You can even grow your own in your backyard. One woman told me she always takes off any unnecessary packaging and leaves it at the checkout for the supermarket to dispose of.

But although the focus for environmentalists seems to be reducing the number of plastic shopping bags by recycling them or charging a levy, surely more needs to be done to reduce packaging on the products we buy to put into our environmentally friendly jute bags.


A study last year found that New Zealand, one of 192 countries examined, generated about 3.68kg of waste per person each day. That's a rate higher than the vast number of nations in the study.

Projections show that, with current population trends and without increased intervention, the amount of waste sent to landfills will almost double within 10 years in Auckland alone.

That's an increase from 1.5 million tonnes to nearly 3 million tonnes. And much of that waste comes from plastics that aren't suitable for recycling or that have been contaminated.

Ultimately, we can't look to anyone else to do our dirty work for us.

It's up to each of us to decide whether we want to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce. I haven't been fanatical in the past, and when we had a dog, I found shopping bags jolly useful for disposing of the dog's poo when we went walking.

But Toby the border collie is no longer with us and we have no need for the vast numbers of plastic bags we bring into the house.


I may have been forgetful, even a bit cavalier, about taking reusable bags with me when I went to the supermarket. Not any more.

The double-packaged aubergines have pushed me over the edge.

Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB, weekdays, noon-4pm
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