Plastic Free July – Halfway there!

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Plastic free July is in full swing in my house and it isn’t getting any easier I have to say! Once you start this journey and start to really look at this issue, you realise that plastic is literally everywhere. Within the food supply chain it touches almost everything, so complete elimination is near impossible in a modern world. For example, I haven’t figured out the cheese and tofu situation yet!
Overall we are really trying to stick with the plastic free ethos and we’re having some success. We’re discovering alternatives to plastic and are taking the opportunity educate retail staff.
One of our challenges is buying meats. Though I am vegetarian, my kid are not, so we do buy meat most weeks. Even when we go along with our containers to the deli, or butcher in the supermarket to allow them to put the meat straight in, I’ve found that the poor staff are confused and often use a plastic bag to pick up the meat anyway – so the container solution is often defunct. Maybe if enough people ask for this, they’ll get it.
The other challenges are also around buying fruit. So many come in plastic containers, so our no berries and cherry tomatoes month continues. I often find myself staring longingly at those berries!
Shopping also really does take quite a lot longer and with my husband as the one who does the shopping much of the pressure is on him. He often comes homes a bit cranky by it all. While he supports this initiative, I know that he’s secretly counting down the days until he can shop with ease!
But with the challenges come the good vibes from knowing we’re really making a difference. My kids are totally into it and relish the opportunity to point out a lapse in something that my husband I may do. This week, I’ve also really noticed the difference in our bins. So much less rubbish and probably a lot less food waste too. While we are good recyclers and have a worm farm and a compost, the forced simplification of our shopping trolley is resulting in less overall waste.
Our diets have become more basic because of necessity and we’re learning to try some things out that we’ve never done before – like make yoghurt. This has been my discovery of the week and trust me the yoghurt was so delicious – much nicer than store bought. This is something I’m keen to stick to post July. Here is a great instruction. My mum’s tricks are to heat the milk to the required temperature. Add the yoghurt, then put it in a pre-heated oven (the oven is turned off by the way). Keep it there overnight, then take it out of the oven. Let it sit on the kitchen bench for a few hours, then put it in the fridge. In essence it’ about managing the increase and decrease in temperature. And is this all worth it. It honestly and truly is. So yum. Nooshejan.

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/homemade-yoghurt

 

 

Plastic Free July – Week 1

Last weekend, I excitedly decided to jump into Plastic Free July and do so with my family.  I mean – really, how hard can it be?

Very hard. I feel as though I have spent the first week in shock. Shock by the realisation that plastic is literally everywhere and changing  that is going to be really really hard.  I’ve had many failures this week. Here are a few:

  • Caving into hunger when offered a little pack of cheese and crackers;
  • Milk – where can you easily find an alternative to plastic?
  • Same goes for bread;
  • Bin liners. Despite seeing things online about paper lined bins, I am not going there yet;
  • Italian chocolate in its wrapper!

Despite these failures though, I am feeling good.  It feels as though my house is going through some sort of detox.  I have however spent the first week finishing off food items that had plastic containers and I’m not sure how to replace them all.

I sent my poor husband off to practice Plastic Free July during the weekly shop.  The result? The shop took twice a long because of the to-ing and fro-ing between different shops (baker, butcher, greengrocer etc) and cost more.

It’s also going to take some more practice to buy some things where we’re relying on others’ participation. For example, last Friday I made my kids chicken and was feeling pretty fab to ditch the pre-packages by going to the butcher. When I got there though, I had to explain that I didn’t want the chicken in a plastic bag after which I was told that I could take in my own container. I returned with the container, only to have the butcher take the chicken out using a plastic bag! so it kind of defeated the purpose of the container! It honestly was a bit of a comedy routine.

Even though we went shopping yesterday, our fridge is nearly empty because so many things that we buy come in plastic (no berries for July and no cherry tomatoes!).  While we’re trying to figure a lot of things out, we’ve also found some things are easier to get than we thought.

For example, I’ve discovered a shop in Lane Cove called ‘Source’. It has everything from different types of oils, to a wall of different types of chocolate, flour, legumes, cereals, shampoo, cleaning products  and soap.  While I’ve  been there sometimes from time to time, I will probably return more even after July.

For week 2, I’m going to follow some of the tips my son put together:

  • Bring your own shopping bag (also your own container if buying things like meats, olives etc);
  • Don’t buy bottled water;
  • Bring own KeepCup to the coffee shop;
  • Don’t use single use straws;
  • Don’t use plastic cutlery;
  • Try to avoid food in plastic wrap (easier said than done. I have no idea how I’m going to buy cheese!);
  • Carry your own box for leftover food;
  • Join the Earn and Learn program (in NSW);
  • Buy bread without a bag or with a paper bag;
  • Clean with vinegar and water;
  • Use a bar of soap instead of a plastic dispenser;
  • Use a stainless steel lunchbox;
  • Instead of getting takeaway smoothies, make your own!
  • Make your own icy pole instead of buying ice cream; and
  • Don’t use plastic plates.

With that – i thought I’d sign off with some ways to avoid some of the tough plastics like bin liners: