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Sustain Food Co-ops Your stories Setting up a food coop - a personal account

Plastic is definitely not fantastic!

Photo credit: Phili Denning

Photo credit: Phili Denning

Hi I’m Phili. I’m here to share my story and experience of setting up a food buying group.

I live in South London with my partner and two sons. As a family we’re passionate about both food and the environment and one of my biggest bugbears is the amount of plastic waste generated in society today. I’m fed up of all the plastic so much of which is from food packaging!

In spite of reducing, reusing and recycling as much as I possibly can my bin is still frustratingly full of it. I can source my fruit, vegetables, meat (not that we eat much now!) and fish (or that either!) fairly easily without plastic but it’s the basic groceries and dry goods, pasta, rice, cereal, nuts and so on, which can still be hard to source plastic free.

Supermarkets and other shops often offer very few other options for packaging, and where there are other options these can cost considerably more. I’ve noticed my shopping bill increase significantly as I try to buy the plastic free items.

Plastic packaging image for Phili Denning's food co-op blog

Photo credit: Phili Denning

So, after volunteering with the charity Sustain and learning more about the concept of food buying groups, I wondered if I could make this work as a way to target some of the plastic in my bin.

The primary aim of my buying group is therefore to get together a group of friends and neighbours to buy dry goods items and ethical cleaning products in bulk and then dispense these to the members in their own smaller reusable containers. This has the added benefit that through buying in bulk we can reduce the prices of these items. We can also ensure that we use ethical suppliers who consider other important factors in their product sourcing such as avoiding harmful food additives, GM free, fair trade, cruelty free, minimising environmental impact in terms of production, packaging and transportation, supporting new and innovative green products and independent manufacturers, and consideration of human rights.


​​Read the next stage in Phili's journey: How to sell food to my friends

Read about the success of Naked Larder and how it developed into a franchise opportunity for Phili


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