Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Green Grocer Wars

You can't have missed the recent declarations of green intent from most of the big food sheds in the last week or so.

Why is this so important?

Well first off, £1 out of every £8 we spend in the UK, we spend in Tesco. If you add in Sainsbury's, ASDA and M&S, we're talking a massive chunk of our consumption of 'stuff' (as opposed to 'services' such as telephones, cable TV, internet etc). A green war between the Supermarkets will have a significant effect.

Secondly, food accounts for more carbon than personal transport, space heating or electricity. In fact it has been estimated that every calorie of food needs 10 calories of oil (BTW this means that cycling creates more CO2 per mile through the food you burn off than driving the same distance - believe it or not - but please don't stop pedalling, just change your eating habits!). And this isn't just about air-miles - non-flying food accounts for 87% of food transport CO2 due to the way the supermarkets shift stuff around. The milk I pour in my tea here in Newcastle could come from a cow a couple of miles away, but the milk could have been to Devon for bottling and then will have ping-ponged its way back up the country through a centralised distribution system.

Thirdly, look in your bin. The vast majority of waste will be food or food containers (or both...) - the only major other type of rubbish is newspapers and magazines which supermarkets sell as well. Better packaging = less waste.

Even the usually cynical George Monbiot welcomed these moves, saying:
"The choice between two rival brands of margarine appears to have become more meaningful than the choice between Labour and the Conservatives... When a huge company changes course, the impact is felt all over the world."
Although he pointed out that it will never be in the supermarkets' interests to sell less and they will continue to crush smaller rivals in their way.

Me? I'm not converted yet, maybe because I hate the shopping 'experience' in big stores, and will continue to give most of my custom to small stores, organic supermarkets and veg boxes, but I am glad to see these behemoths start to shift as that's where the big differences will be made.

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At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently work for a fairly big tesco and almost un believably worked for asda to, you could say maybe i am turning into a supermarket junkie!
But these companies suck you in then when they've got you they've got your friends and family to along with most other finicial things you need.
But i miss the point maybe the move the green move by such overwhelming companies is a great move simple encouragements like offering a customer a few more extra points on their clubcard, has and i know personally removed nearly over 2 million carrier bags from the waste dump, and its only tuesday!
what i mean that is if people are already living the supermarket life, maybe there one of the best candidates to get across/start the green move????
i mean, people already have there life insurance with them and even they dont want have to pay out for the fact we are polluting our world!


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