Plastic-Free July in Croydon

Plastic-free bread

Posted by Kake on 2 August 2014

Wondering where to find bread with no plastic wrapping? Here are some options in central Croydon.

Bread and rolls at Waitrose, George Street, July 2014.

As far as I can tell, all of Croydon’s big-name supermarkets (Iceland, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose) sell loose bread rolls. Some of them also sell loose loaves — for example, as shown in the photo above, the options at Waitrose on George Street include poppy seed bloomer, pain au levain, and white cob.

There are usually plastic bags (or plastic-plus-paper) provided to put these in, but there's nothing stopping you taking your own bags — preferably transparent ones, so the cashier can see what you’ve got. I usually use my stash of plastic produce bags previously acquired from supermarkets, which I wash and re-use.

Sliced bread from Coughlans, North End Mall, packed straight into my own washable cloth bags, July 2014.

For me, though, sliced sandwich loaves are the real prize. Slicing my own bread is way more faff than I need (a chopping board either permanently taking up counter space or needing frequent washing; crumbs everywhere; an extra step when I’m making breakfast on a busy day; very difficult to slice it as thin as I like).

What’s the answer? Coughlans. This local bakery chain has branches at 220 High Street, at 502 London Road, at 299 Lower Addiscombe Road, in North End Mall, and in several other locations in and around Croydon. They’re open on Saturdays, and the one in North End Mall has late opening (until 7pm) on Thursdays.

I use the North End Mall branch, and the staff there are now quite used to me asking for my sliced loaf to be packaged directly into a cloth shopping bag. If you’d prefer a bit more protection for your bread, they also have paper bags which they can fit the sliced loaf into if they’re careful.[1]

Sliced bread from Coughlans, North End Mall, packaged in a paper bag, May 2014.

I like to keep an emergency loaf in the freezer, so I have a stash of plastic bread bags saved from previous purchases of supermarket sliced loaves. I transfer the Coughlans loaf from my cloth bag to the plastic bag, and then freeze it; once the loaf is used up, I wash and re-use the plastic bag.[2]

Wholemeal Turkish bread from Beydagi Food Centre, 83–85 London Road, July 2014.

I’m also a fan of the Turkish bread sold in TFC and Beydagi Food Centre, both on London Road (numbers 73–77 and 83–85 respectively). This is baked on the premises and sold loose — they usually put it into a carrier bag, but I ask for it to be put directly into my cloth shopping bag. I buy mine from Beydagi, since I prefer wholemeal bread, and as far as I can tell TFC only does the white varieties. The loaf above was only 80p.

Finally, Bakhan Restaurant and Shadi Market on London Road (numbers 72 and 79 respectively) both sell freshly-baked naans and chapatis, which again can be placed directly into a cloth shopping bag. At the time of writing, these are three for £1.

Half-baguettes from Lidl and chapatis from Shadi Market, both on London Road, June 2014.

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