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Temporary shop, Stamford Hill, c.1940

Waste Not, Want Not

Ever since our first shop opened in 1869, Sainsbury’s has focused on helping UK households.

The slogans have changed over time - from ‘Quality Perfect, Prices Lower’ in 1882, to today’s ‘Live Well For Less’ - but the sentiment has remained the same.  

From purchase to packaging, Sainsbury’s has helped people to make their food and their money go further, while retaining a commitment to sustainability.

Sainsbury’s has always sought to reduce food wastage. During the Second World War, some of our premises were bombed, including the Union Street bacon stoves at the head office in Blackfriars. At the time, the building was being used to store Ministry of Food frozen meat and Sainsbury’s staff worked through the night to save as much as they could. When shops were destroyed, temporary ones (such as the Stamford Hill image above) were set up to sell fresh and salvaged goods.    

Over the years, Sainsbury’s has provided its customers with information designed to help them stretch budgets, without compromising on quality. During the Second World War, we released adverts advising customers about alternatives to bacon, butter and sugar, the first goods to be rationed in January 1940.

The effort to save families’ money continued into peacetime with magazines like Family, which was published from 1961-1964, and modern day campaigns like Make Your Roast Go Further.

Through such a campaign, Sainsbury’s helps to highlight the fact that many households needlessly throw away food. Every year in the UK 7.2 million tonnes of food are binned and the Sunday roast is one of the biggest contributors to this waste. The aim of the campaign is to reduce this, by providing practical advice about how families could make their roasts go further, along with other meal planning tips.

  • ‘Please Go Easy With the Butter' advert

  • 'Love Your Leftovers' from Sainsbury's 'Live Well For Less' Magazine, 2012

  • 'Love Your Time-Savers' from Sainsbury's 'Live Well For Less' Magazine, 2012

Alongside our efforts to keep food bills down, Sainsbury’s is committed to sustainability, aiming to be the UK’s greenest grocer. We plan to reduce our packaging by half by 2020, compared to 2005, and we achieved zero food waste to landfill in 2010, followed by zero waste to landfill in 2013, which included all non-food waste too.

But while Sainsbury’s is making progress in minimising our own impact on the environment, we have also been influencing the behaviour of others, including our customers and suppliers. 

One of our main challenges has been tackling the UK’s plastic bag problem. Billions of single use bags are given out each year and Sainsbury’s has found innovative ways of incentivising people to reuse them or buy reusable bags. 

In 1995, a scheme was launched that awarded school vouchers to people who reused plastic bags. In 2007, Sainsbury’s sold the stylish ‘I’m Not a Plastic Bag’ reusable shopping bags - created by global social change movement We Are What We Do and award winning designer Anya Hindmarch - helping to make sustainability fashionable. And today, customers are awarded Nectar points for reusing bags.

School Vouchers Promotion - Sainsbury's