tell the big supermarkets what you think

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been campaigning to stop two certain supermarkets from wrapping their fresh organic produce in plastic wrap. It all started with Woolworths, after I popped in to get some emergency pumpkin* and saw this:

bananas wrapped in plastic?!

their entire organics range wrapped in plastic

Flabbergasted over why they feel it necessary to arrange bananas on a styrofoam tray and wrap the whole lot up in plastic film, I posted a couple of images on various social media channels and got an amazing response (evidently no one else can rationalise the wasteful use of plastic either).

A few people noted this was going on in Coles too. The message spread. Readers left comments on the Woolworths Facebook page and tagged Coles in on the Twitter conversation. Coles replied that they are:

always looking for ways to use our plastic usage, so we appreciate the feedback.

Woolworths sent this message via Facebook (they don’t use their Twitter account):

"Hi Maria, thanks for letting us know your feedback here. We package our organic produce in plastic to ensure that we retain the organic integrity of the product from the farm gate through to our supermarkets shelves. It also assists our customers in clearly identifying the Macro Organic brand on our shelves along with our service staff at the checkouts. We'll pass on your post to our produce team, have a great day."

Since then, the likes of Greenpeace and Tim Silverwood have shared my messages with their followers and to Coles and Woolies. Because it’s an important one. This stuff does make a difference. It was only last week that I posted an article here on this blog about the devastating effects plastic has on our environment. About how there is just too much of it floating around these days, that it can be hard, as a consumer, to avoid it even when we want to. Which is what really gets me about this situation - by wrapping organic produce in plastic retailers force consumers to choose out of two evils. Which is the lesser – buy conventional produce, the farming of which contributes to environmental degradation, or buy organic produce and contribute to plastic pollution... which leads to... environmental degradation?

Of course, if you factor in the toxins that leach into the food from plastic wrap, the decision becomes even less consumer-friendly.

I’m not satisfied with these options. Personally, I generally avoid shopping at either of these two big supermarkets – I opt for farmers’ markets and small, independently-owned grocers instead**. But I would like to see consumers who do shop there have real choice, to not have to choose the lesser of two evils, to be able to choose what is right for their own health and the health of the environment.

You may be thinking I’m taking on a bit of a challenge here. To be honest, part of me (a big part of me) agrees. But if nothing else comes of this accidental activism, I at least want the hundreds of good folk who read this blog to consider the issue. If nothing else comes of my campaigning, at least that.

If you want to help me ask Coles and Woolworths to stop wrapping their fresh organic produce in plastic, you can do any of these:

Things you might like to post on Facebook:
  • Hi @coles and @Woolworths Australia's Fresh Food People, please stop wrapping your fresh organic produce in plastic wrap. It’s an unnecessary and wasteful use of plastic. Far from protecting the organic integrity of the produce, it contaminates food with chemicals and produces more plastic in an age where plastic pollution is having a devastating effect on the environment. Please make the right choice for consumers and the environment.

... and on Twitter:
  • Ask your FB friends and Twitter followers to share the post with their friends and followers.

  • Ask to speak with the store manager at your local Woolies or Coles and tell them what you think.
  • Most importantly, try to shop at smaller independently or community owned grocery stores and farmers’ markets, because dosh can speak louder than words.

* I had promised someone that I would test a pumpkin cake recipe for their up n’ coming cookbook, feedback due the next day, and I hadn’t been organised enough to pick up some pumpkin elsewhere. Luckily I found a pumpkin stored away in the back of my cupboard later that afternoon.

** I try to avoid shopping at either Coles and Woolies for a variety of reasons, many of which revolve around their unjust treatment of farmers and suppliers (when they keep dropping those prices down down, someone has to pay). Another big one? Both companies are involved in the pokies industry. Woolworths is in fact the largest operator of pokies in Australia, owning well over 12,000 pokies across the country. The Age last Sunday (p. 8, September 30, 2012) reported that Woolies is earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year from its pokies, the biggest earners of which are concentrated in low-income areas – Woolworth’s five biggest venues in Victoria are located in Werribee, Mill Park, Keysborough, Thomastown and Bundoora.


  1. I had assumed the reason was to protect the organic produce, as they have confirmed. Still, it is totally unnecessary to package with this much plastic. When I was last in Japan I went to a fruit and veg market and could not believe that they individually wrap bananas in plastic, it was crazy. They already have their own wrapping!
    Also, my dad discovered the pokies/woolies thing and completely stopped shopping there after writing a complaint letter, it's pretty terrible.
    Good on you for spreading the info

    1. Thanks Sarah. I know, what has the world come to!

  2. We don't shop at Coles or Woolworths at all .We use the organic supermarket that home delivers and packs their fruit etc. in recycable brown paper bags or our local independent supermarket. We are voting with our feet.... we simply don't shop at a place that punishes dairy farmers by starting milk price wars , sources many of their macro whole foods ingredients from unethical sources ( eg. palm oil in their biscuits) . As a farmer , supermarkets like these with their 'friendly ads about farmers and their 'fresh food' ' are fooling Australians into thinking they are doing the right thing by shopping there . Consumers drive what is happening in our stores and only we can change it.

  3. It's madness, isn't it? I think consumers should also be encouraged to use reusable / washable bags in the produce department. Such as those by Onya. They're all about profits: there is another revenue stream for them.

    Many independent green grocers I have come across wrap much of their produce too.

  4. I don't buy organic bananas which even our local markets wrap. We can only eat a couple a week, and the wrap forces me to buy too many, since they're in groups of four or five. It's really a pity.

  5. Nice one Maria. I have often thought the same but LOVE that you have started a campaign. Thank you.

  6. Hello Maria

    First of all you have been a beautiful inspiration for my sister and I to live a more clean, green and conscious life. Thank you for all the heart that you put into your blog. We are constantly sending each other links to different snippets you have posted.

    We too have often pondered the use of so much plastic to wrap fresh produce in supermarkets. To us it is unnecessary and wasteful! One example that continues to puzzle us is why mushrooms (organic or not) are packaged in plastic when storing them in plastic encourages them to go slimy/perish quicker than if they were stored in a paper bag (which is the correct storage method). Where is the commonsense?


    1. Hi Poppiin... thanks so so much for your kind words, I'm so glad you and your sis can take inspiration from the blog! Uh, mushrooms in plastic - it is ridiculous! As consumer, we have power to instigate change for the better though, I have hope in that. Thank you!

  7. When I go into a supermarket I have to wear a face mask to protect my breathing. The chemicals (mostly fragrance) from the cleaning products adhere to my hair and clothes. Anything we buy from there (not a lot, and definitely not fruit and veg) has to be aired outside for days, or washed (cans, packets etc.); consequently, I don't go there but my family do, and even they have to change clothes afterwards as the chemicals are on their clothes too and can affect me. So, for me, if I did buy some organic produce, I'd prefer it wrapped in something, not necessarily plastic, but something environmentally friendly.

    I hope what has happened to me does not happen to more people. Beware of fragrance. I used to use a lot of it!

    Oh, and I love this blog!



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