Sometimes, you just have to ask.

I really enjoy shopping at independent local shops or markets, where ever it is I am. Which is just as well, as once I started Being-PALL Plastic A Lot Less, there wasn´t really much choice anyway!

I like the variety, seeing what local shops have to offer, finding things I might not find elsewhere, and I enjoy the ease and speed of shopping in them. I suppose too it has to be said, I like a chat. I enjoy getting to know the people, and I like to support them.

My first photography project at college, over 12 years ago, was based in my small home town in suburbia Essex, England. Although I no longer lived there, I chose to look at the dominating effect the supermarket has on the town’s small businesses and the people who run them.

I spent a lot of time doing research,  talking to locals and independent shop owners. I started to understand what was happening there, it wasn´t pretty.  This meant I wasn’t a fan of large supermarkets even before Being-PALL.

Also supermarkets – as we know – are stacked to the rafters with unnecessary single use plastics. One trip I had to Sainsbury (when my Sister dragged me there!)  I started chatting with a lad on the fruit & veg, he said  “It´s not just the plastic you see, even if it´s loose on the shelf, all the fruit & veg delivery boxes are now lined with plastic bags.”

There isn´t a choice in a supermarket, what you see is what you get, but not with an independent store, sometimes you just have to ask…

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping locally to where I´m staying in Singapore. I needed spices, I blogged about it here Spicing it up PALL in Singapore

Spices, have always been a problem finding without plastic. So this time I was expecting to have to buy plastic (I was not happy about it mind you) I was shopping in what is known as a wet market, or hawker market, where there are stalls and shops inside with independent traders.  Though the food is not local, 95% of Singapore´s food is imported (and I´ve yet to find where they hide the other 5%).

I found a very popular Indian stall there. I could see he had loose fruit and veg, but all the spices were in little plastic bags, I wondered, and so I asked…

…It turns out many of  the spices arrive loose, as do rice and pulses (some in huge plastic bags, though not all) and then the guy bags them all up into small plastic bags.  By simply asking, I managed to get every thing I needed to take home without any plastic bags!  Had I not have asked I would never have known.

If you don´t ask, you don´t get!

The man was really helpful to accommodate me and my strange request – and then letting me shoot pictures for this post.  All though at the time he was also laughing with/at me, that´s fine, I got all I needed PALL and I gave him a laugh!  He remembers me, so now I don´t even have to ask, he knows I want my spices and produce without plastic.

If you´re new to Being-PALL Plastic A Lot Less I highly recommend you get out of your supermarket and have a look around for alternatives, and if you´re there and you don´t see any, ask, you´ll be surprised what you can find, and how keen independent shops and traders are to help.  In the last six years I have asked many, in many country’s and they really are happy to not give me plastic, and many have said;

We only use plastic bags because it´s what the customer wants.

The more of us asking and making the demand for our goods PALL the more normal it´ll become, who knows, they might eventually stop packing their produce in single use plastic…Until then…

Every refusal adds up. Happy asking. Happy PALL-ing!