Company logo
Rated "Excellent" by our customers

Search articles

Search tips...

Rated excellent by our customers

Plastic Free at Real Foods

Author: kim

There's been a lot of talk recently about how to recycle, refuse, re-use and otherwise reduce our consumption of plastic. Here at Real Foods, we sell loose fresh fruit and vegetables, bulk and wholesale goods and provide packed down sizes of a huge array of dried goods. We use cellulose bags for the majority of our prepacks and are happy to have you bring your own containers to either of our stores for refills. Read on for our guide to Plastic Free living including a guide to what exactly those plastic symbols on packaging actually mean...

Reduce plastic packaging

Re-use plastic packaging

Recycle plastic packaging

Plastic packaging symbols

Real Foods packaging



Real Foods have sold food loose from sacks and in pre-packed smaller sizes since we opened. It ensures that we provide the food at its peak of freshness and in sizes that will suit everyone. It also means that our prices are extremely competitive, basically the more you buy, the more you save, so if you buy multiple sacks of goods you’ll receive a discount, but likewise, if you only need 50 grams you won’t be paying over the odds for it.

We are more than happy for customers to come in with their own containers and tubs to carry their stock home in. Where the goods have been prepacked, we pack and sell in cello bags. These are biodegradable bags made from plant-based cellulose. We sell many of our superfoods in plastic tubs, this is because the cello bags are porous and do not work as well with powdery products, so flour is often also sold in plastic tubs or bags. Of course, if you’re buying in our stores you can bring along your own container and we’ll simply charge you for the weight of the goods.

Another way to reduce the waste in packaging is to buy in bulk. All of the foods we sell loose or pre-packed from our own brand can be bought by the sack or box. This is not just popular with people and businesses who use a lot of food, but also with people who form small collective buying co-ops. For example, they will buy in a 25kg sack of flour and split between 5 people at 5kgs each. This is not only extremely cost effective, it means re-using your storage again and again and only having to dispose of sacks or cardboard boxes (both recyclable). We can organise delivery for a very reasonable £4.95 for wholesale-priced goods in the webshop or select the click-and-collect option to pick up in either of our Edinburgh stores.

For the full range of wholesale goods, please check out our wholesale page here.


We sell our organic fresh fruit and vegetables online and in store. They are sold loose, although you do have the option to use paper bags to carry them in.

On occasion, plastic is used for fresh fruit and vegetable packaging for online orders to ensure they survive the journey. However, many customers choose to be as free from plastic as possible and pop a note in the comments section of their order, so we reduce the amount as much as we are able to.

We also sell fresh bakery products and snacks in our stores, again these can be bought loose or popped into brown paper bags if required.

We also sell bulk versions of many household and body-care goods. Once you've found your favoured washing up liquid, hair conditioner or shampoo, simply refill using the 5-litre versions available. You can find Household 5 litres here.

There's a range of unwrapped soaps available from Faith In Nature - find them here.


We sell organic cotton bags to carry your shopping for a mere 99p! Pictured below, they are extremely popular with our customers, and perfect for carrying around to ensure you don't need to buy any plastic. These are long-handled organic cotton bags, which are comfortable to carry and fit a surprising amount of food in them!


We also sell a 5p carrier bag (made from biodegradable plastic) with artwork from a local artist showing our Broughton Street store.

We also offer a bag recycling service so people can donate unwanted carrier bags and you can pick them up for free. These are located in both of our Edinburgh stores next to the tills. Feel free to use them, or to donate any bags you may have available for others to re-use.

Wherever possible we reuse supplier packaging within our webshop and stores. This includes cardboard boxes and bubblewrap. When the original packaging is damaged or unsuitable we send it to our own recycling.


Recycling is widely available across the UK. Visit Recycle Now and input your postcode for details of your nearest recycling facilities.

We separate paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and food waste and recycle it. Wherever possible we reduce landfill. We also raise packaging concerns regularly with our suppliers to ensure it is as minimal as possible.


Plastic packaging symbols guide




Did you know that Real Foods have been serving customers in Edinburgh for over 40 years? This advert (pictured left) published in the Scotsman in 1976, mentions our first store on Morrison Street which opened in 1974.

Our Morrison Street store is no longer there, but we’re still going strong on Broughton Street and Brougham Street and as you can see from this advert, we are still selling some of those staple whole food products which had a place on our shelves all those years ago.

We still believe in eating well without breaking the bank! For ideas on following a plant-based diet on a budget, check out this article.

Real Foods are committed to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible in both of our stores and our webshop. We also have a robust internal recycling policy for our own waste and regularly assess it to see if we can make any improvements. We also regularly assess the packaging from suppliers and conform to SEPA packaging requirements and requests.

If you have suggestions or ideas for how we can further reduce our impact on the environment, please do get in touch with us and we'll definitely consider it!