Plastic-Free July in Croydon

As Nature Intended, 186–188 Balham High Road

Posted by Kake on 26 July 2014
Loose coffee beans ready for grinding at As Nature Intended, Balham.

I’ve previously written about Weigh & Save, a budget-friendly loose goods shop on Church Street. We’re very lucky to have this in Croydon, but its range is necessarily limited (it’s quite a small shop), and the need to keep prices low means that the quality is firmly aimed at the “basics” end of the market.[1]

Also, since the closure of Authentic Roots (previously Oasis Natural Products) on the High Street, we no longer have an Ecover refill station in Croydon — and I’ve found it quite difficult to get any information out of Ecover regarding other nearby refill stations.

So it’s worth taking a trip to Balham to check out As Nature Intended. I’ve mentioned this shop before, in my article on plastic-free loo rolls, but As Nature Intended is much more than a source of bathroom necessities. It’s a decently-sized organic supermarket with a wide range of “scoop your own” items — including coffee!

Loose breakfast cereals at As Nature Intended, Balham.

When I visited earlier this month, the checkout staff had no problem with me using my own containers for the loose items. I took my own reusable plastic produce bags[2] for snack items like wasabi peanuts and chilli fried broad beans, and reusable plastic tubs for things like olives and cornflakes.

Most of the loose items are organic, which does make it more expensive than the places I usually shop — but if you usually buy organic anyway, the prices are comparable to what you’d pay for plastic-packaged goods elsewhere.

Loose nuts and rice at As Nature Intended, Balham.

The olives are slightly more expensive than the ones sold in Surrey Street Market — £1.69 per 100g (i.e. £3.38 per 200g) instead of £2.99 per 200g — but this isn’t a huge difference, and when you eat as many olives as I do, it’s nice to try a different selection for a change![3]

Bowls of olives at As Nature Intended, Balham.

The Ecover refill station allows you to bring your own empty Ecover containers and refill them with washing up liquid, laundry liquid, and fabric conditioner.

Ecover refill station at As Nature Intended, Balham.

As well as the abovementioned items, the shop sells fresh fruit and vegetables; fresh meat and fish (though the meat and fish are all pre-packaged in plastic); posh ready meals (again with plastic packaging); storecupboard items such as mustards and oils; organic beers, ciders, and wines; and household goods including recycled aluminium foil.

As Nature Intended, Balham, July 2014.

As Nature Intended is at 186–188 Balham High Road, SW12 9BP, just a minute’s walk from Balham Station. At the time of writing it’s open 9am–8pm Monday to Friday, 9am–7pm Saturdays, and 10:30am–6:30pm Sundays and Bank Holidays. West Croydon Station has six direct trains an hour to Balham, some of them taking as little as 16 minutes, and East Croydon Station has three direct trains an hour, taking 15–17 minutes. All of these services are to/from Victoria, making it a handy stop-off point for Victoria commuters on the way home.

Footnotes and references

  1. There are plenty of things I’ll happily continue buying from Weigh & Save, including cashew nuts, couscous, and dried fruit — but their chocolate-coated brazil nuts are way too sweet and not chocolatey enough for me; and as a person who’s very fussy about rice, I find their basmati rice just isn’t up to scratch.
  2. My reusable plastic produce bags are just the regular ones from supermarkets — I wash, dry, and reuse them.
  3. Note that although the plastic olive pots provided in-store are technically biodegradable, according to the manufacturer they’re not suitable for home composting. Via email, July 2014: “all of our compostable products need to be composted through an industrial facility. They are not suitable for home composting.”

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