The soul of Mallorca is crying out to be zero waste and plastic free. So much of it's agricultural history is still strong and many farmhouses are being converted into sustainable agritourismos or farms with owners who are passionate about sustainability. Being surrounded by small business owners and locals who are trying to make a difference is inspiring and makes travelling zero waste here not only possible but also fun. However, like many countries there are contradictions and paradoxes to zero waste living and so many easy opportunities that need to be embraced.
Here's a guide on how to be zero waste on your trip to Mallorca.
Markets - BYO Produce Bags
What is not to love about looking up which markets are on where and using different market days as a way to explore the island and shop and eat the way you should.
The frustrating 'Market Paradox' is in full swing here. Like so many countries in the world, Mallorcan markets are a potential heaven for plastic free shopping. Local, fresh fruit and vegetables in abundance and stalls offering nuts, dried fruits, olives and even lollies. BUT... and here's the major but - the only thing the vendors offer to put all these items in is... you guessed it... plastic bags... and they're used recklessly and frequently. Order a single pear and it will be in a plastic bag. There is absolutely no culture of people bringing their own produce bags or refusing plastic. So, so sad. Here we are will big sacks of plastic free bulk shopping only for it to be scooped in to single use plastic. There is no option for paper bags (which should also be avoided if possible - they are made from trees of course) and you're left with no choice than plastic or not to buy (for smaller items).
So for your romantic plastic free shopping trip to the markets to be successful you must bring your own produce bags. This is something I recommend travelling with. If for some reason you don't have any - bring your own containers - which can be either tupperware from your airbnb or old plastic that you've bought e.g. cereal packaging. But I'm all about style and enjoying the zero waste experience so indulging in buying your produce bags is high recommended. If you find yourself in Mallorca with none - check out Viveco (see below).
You'll be able to find the following items at the markets - so come prepared with a few bags:
Meats - fresh and cured
Nuts - huge variety: Perfect for making nut milk and the XXX are out of this world for snacking on.
Dried Fruit - huge variety
Local jams, pestos and dips
But you'll struggle to find:
Organic Veggies - there is typically only one supplier out of about 40 that will have organic veggies - look for them first then substitute with what you need from others. You need to ask or look for the term 'biologic'.
Bulk Food Shop
Mallorca has only 1 bulk food shop and it is the absolute cutest. Frustratingly it's owner does not use social media so you really have to dig around to find it. It is so cute because it's small and all the bulk food remains in cardboard sacks rather than being put into plastic tubs. The owner is a quaint, adorable hippy style character who barely speaks English. Unlike other bulk food shops, he follows you around and lovingly scoops your food for you. It was perfect - except for my daughter continually coughing in there to a point that I had to send her out.
You'll find everything you need here, including some things you can find at the markets and supermarkets - but like everything - supporting small businesses is critical - particularly those who want to change the world - so shop here. Make this your first stop in Mallorca - being in Palma that's easy - then stock up on everything you'll need for your stay!
Critical purchases that you won't find anywhere else are:
Cacao powder (to make treats or desserts)
Flour - we buy GF so got the chickpea flour
Rice - I struggled to find at the markets
Pasta - huge range including Gluten Free
Cereals - Oats and sultanas
Herbs and Spices
You'll also find lentils, chickpeas and other dry store items but some of these are available at the markets or supermarkets.
Zero Waste Shop
Away from Mallorca and up north near the hills is a beautiful town of Inca - there you'll find Mallorca's only zero waste shop full of items you may have forgotten to bring with you. Best day to visit is on Thursday when the markets are on as well. If you can't be bothered or don't have a car - you can order online as well.
Here you'll find water bottles, produce bags, zero waste toiletries - from moon cups to old school safety razors, toothpaste and silk floss as well as refills for shampoo and conditioner.
I often go a couple of weeks without washing my hair, but a visit to the water park had me running to Viveco to get some shampoo and conditioner.
Supermarkets - bring your tupperware
Finally - the supermarkets will help you fill the gaps. There are loads of glass products - including yoghurt in glass (which is an absolute win), as well as peanut butter, coconut oil and in case you didn't get to the markets condiments like pesto, capers and olive oil which are lifesavers when creating a simple but super tasty zero waste meal. Of course there are veggies - hit and miss with what's in plastic and not, local or not or organic or not.
As far as meat goes, we've been really lucky in that supermarkets here have willingly accepted our containers for meat, without question and despite not speaking English and me no spanish. This was not the case in Sardinia. What's also great is the fish counter and deli which again is plastic free if you bring your own containers.
Most supermarkets will have a small amount of bulk - primarily nuts, lentils and dates (perfect for desserts) which can help when you can't get back to Palma or to supplement your existing supplies. They're a nice surprise rather than relying on these for your staples.
What I tend to buy for supermarkets is coconut butter, nut butters, capers and pestos (if I can't find at the markets) and meat if I haven't been to the markets.
Obviously you're not going to rely on foraging to feed your family with Spanish long lunches every day but it being open to collecting food is fun and helps adults and children engage with food, learn about local flora and better understand the energy involved in growing food. We world school so engaging with local food and how it grows is critical in educating the kids.
In your travels you'll find wild rosemary and other herbs growing in shrubs, figs and mulberries and carob growing in trees in your casa garden and prickly pears everywhere (be very very very careful). Not to mention driving past veggie farms where they'll be a million veggies on the road side to cheekily collect. Once kids see food growing like this and collecting it themselves, they're far more open to trying new flavours and not wasting what they pick. Where at home they'd baulk at a carob chocolate here in Mallorca they're picking carob off the tree and chewing on it all day calling it a lolly. Ahh... the power of nature!
Consider staying on a agritourismo so kids can engage with food and veggie gardens and animals in a permaculture type of environment. They can pick their own veggies, understand complimentary plants instead of chemicals and see the positive roll animals play in regeneration in a permaculture system.