Green campaigner Laurel Spooner wants to hear your ideas on how to make shops more eco-friendly and there is a £50 prize for the best one. What would you put on your supermarket wishlist?

I WONDER why big supermarkets can’t make more effort to be as environmentally friendly as my favourite local store?

Perhaps you notice differences when you shop?

If so, what are the best practices you would like to see so you can be an eco-shopper at a price you can afford?

We'd love to hear from you so please send your ideas to Matt Plummer at the Gazette, via

There is a £50 prize for the best idea, to be judged by a panel from the supermarket chains we have in Colchester.

All shop managers want to know what their customers want to buy, so this is free local market research for them and gives you your chance to make the difference you want to see.

Covid changed my shopping habits.

I stopped going to the “super” size supermarkets and started using the local convenience stores.

I have three close by, within ten minutes' walk - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Budgens.


Gazette columnist Laurel Spooner

The staff of all three were equally friendly and brave when lockdown came, working tremendously hard under great pressure, looking after their customers reassuringly and providing what felt like a lifeline to the local community.

However, I have gravitated to one store which I use all the time.

In my view, it’s the most environmentally friendly and it has shrunk the impact of my weekly shop.

Not only that, it’s no more expensive.

The most obvious difference is that my chosen local shop sells me less plastic, so my recycling bag has roughly halved in size since I became their regular customer.

Much of the fruit and veg is loose.

I like to select for myself which pears I buy (as an example), how many and how ripe.

Why buy four hard ones in a pack when you need three soft ones?

The bags are usually paper, sometimes plastic for wetter products.

All three stores have an irresistible range of excellent bread and pastries but my shop specially points out that they use a local bakery.

There is a better range of organically produced foods and vegetarian and vegan options in my shop.

For example, the usual dairy-free milk and yoghurt, tofu and vegetarian sausages but more besides.

In March, a delivery of glorious daffodils from up the road in Lincolnshire, rather than from Holland, cheered up everyone in the socially-distanced queue.

“It’s our floral pick-me-up,” said the lady on the till.

It makes sense to most people to support local farmers and manufacturers.

Clear additional signage helps us all when we haven’t time to pore over the small print on packets.

My shop stocks all the “ecover” cleaning products and fairtrade goods.

The loose-leaf tea tastes better to us, goes further and no more packaging on each little teabag.

The teapot has returned and makes two cuppas for the price of one.

How meaningful are the claims (sustainable, ethical and responsibly-sourced) on packets?

What conditions for the pig make a 'happy sausage'?

How much of a year does a grass-fed cow actually spend in a field?

How freely can a free-range hen range?

What standards and what inspections?

We will discuss with the supermarket managers and report back to you.

Environmental labelling shows consumers are exerting pressure in the market place.

As sales increase, supermarkets compete, costs come down and choice increases.

Keep up the pressure and send in your ideas so we can help you.

Do you want to see plastic-free aisles, signs for locally-sourced products and for Made in UK goods to help us buy British?

On-line shopping deliveries have increased the amount of packaging but one supermarket has stopped all deliveries in plastic bags, using only crates which must be returned.

Worth knowing which and worth swapping?


It is one of society’s principles that we should clear up after ourselves, or pay someone else to, “the polluter pays principle”.

That’s why many people are asking for plastic to be taxed and the revenue used to invest in safe disposal.

The rise in price would encourage companies to minimise plastic use and substitute with organic recycled and recyclable materials.

A parcel for me arrived with sheep’s wool packing instead of polystyrene.

Lovely stuff someone is going to get round their Christmas present.

Our project with our local supermarkets depends on you sending in your ideas and helping in the battle to control climate change and damage to the environment.

Someone will win £50. Perhaps it’s you?