Plastic free living: South African swops

Most zero waste and plastic free Instagram flat lays and Youtube tips are from Europe, the UK or the USA, and while it’s strangely addictive to watch people visit their local bulk food store with their mason jars, we don’t always have the same luxuries. Instead, we have tellers reaching blindly for those flimsy, clear plastic bags if you happen to have toothpaste in between your foodstuff. Let it be known that the toothpaste is already sealed in its tube and put in a box which is also coated with plastic.

While the plastic free movement is really starting to make waves in South Africa, it can still be difficult finding the best local alternatives. So here is my list of local alternatives that I update whenever I hear of a new product, place, or person supporting the cause.

SA plastic swops 1
My favourite plastic free swop in South Africa


Shopping bags

This is by far the easiest swop you can make and the shops are filled with canvas and recycled alternatives. You probably have a few in your house already.

If you’re keen to spread the living lightly love, I quite like the Eat Local Mini Tote from Patagonia.


Produce bags

So far I have come across three companies making wonderful canvas and mesh bags to replace those horrible, flimsy ones. Use them not only for fruit and veg, but also bread and anything from the bulk section.

Freshbag –

Nature and me –

SUPA bags –


Take your pick, stainless steel, bamboo, or glass. Just make sure you have something long and thin to clean it with!

Glass: Stream straws –

Bamboo: We care collective – Facebook store

Stainless: Forever Straws –

Cling wrap

Some things just don’t stay fresh if they’re not covered in plastic. But guess what? There are alternatives for that, too. Fabric + beeswax = plastic-free cling wrap.

SUPA wraps –

Buzzy wraps –

Bees wraps –


Nude Foods

Based in Cape Town, this is South Africa’s first completely plastic-free grocery store. You can basically kit out your entire house here: fresh produce, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, flour, spices, oil, and even cleaning products, toothbrushes, and toiletpaper.

Find them at 5 Constitution Street, Cape Town,

Nude foods
Nude foods

Shop zero

Another zero waste shopping spot in Cape Town is Shop Zero, located in Woodstock. You’ll find a lot of the same kind of stuff as at Nude Foods – from pantry to bathroom.

Find them on the First Floor of the Woodstock Co-op at 357 Albert Road. Also here.

Food lover’s market

While not plastic-free by ‘n long shot, Food Lover’s has the widest selection of unpacked food I’ve come across and they’re all over the country. They also have a bulk section where you can buy nuts, seeds, and sometimes even rice and legumes per kilo.

Faithful to Nature

The health and wellness online shop is the first in South Africa to have the option of shopping plastic free. Apart from the waste free living tab, where you can find most of the products on here and some other interesting things, there is also a 100% plastic free option in the search results filters. I’ve also heard rumours that they like sending out free samples when you order from them.

Weekly veg boxes

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get both unpackaged and seasonal veggies. As the produce come directly from the farms, there is much less packaging involved. The veggies are usually organic and much more tasty than any grocery chain’s.

Western Cape: Harvest of Hope, Oranjezicht City Farm, Green Road, Ethical Co-Op

KwaZulu-Natal: The Veg Box Company, Eat Your Home

Gauteng: Munching Mongoose, Freshly Grown


I often find the best place to get new tips and trick for minimising my plastic consumption is to follow people on Instagram who do the same. Here are my favourite local zero waste Instagrammers:

Journey to Zero

Journey to zero
Journey to zero

Waste Less Africa

Waste less africa
Waste less Africa

Zero Waste Journey Cape Town 

Zero waste journey cape town
Zero waste journey Cape Town

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