Plastic Free July: Week 1

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

So as the second week of Plastic Free July gets under way I wanted to share with my readers our successes and failures from the first week. Although we already have eliminated plastic bags, produce bags, most plastic food storage, there are some challenges in buying food! Although we try to be zero-waste in our household, the average family doesn’t need to go so gung-ho right off the bat and can ease themselves in slowly.

So, our accomplishments were fairly good! We already limit the amount of prepared/packaged food from our house such as pre-cut vegetables and fruit, bagged salad, and bread products.Ways we do this are fairly simple: don’t buy things you in packages if you can. Veggie and fruit trays are a rip off. I am just going to say it. The consumer pays an inordinate amount of money for the convenience, which could easily be prevented by just cutting their own. So if you like the convenience of pre-cut vegetables dedicate one night to chopping. Store cut veggies in containers of water so they stay fresh. We have had carrots in our fridge 5+ days now and they are as crunchy as the day we bought them. This also cuts down on potential food waste and spoilage.

Carrots Stored in Water
Carrots Stored in Water

Bread is a slightly different story. Our household has a second-hand (actually I think it’s third-hand now) bread maker which produces fabulous and easy bread. I downloaded the recipe/manual from the manufacturers website and we have access to all sorts of kinds of bread now. We purchase most of the ingredients in bulk, which cuts down on plastic packaging as well. This week Steve (who is our family baker) made both sandwich bread and two banana loaves. We store our bread products in Bread Armor bags which, although they are plastic, they are completely reusable and we have had them for over a year now and they are still going strong.

Organic Banana Bread
Organic Banana Bread

Other successes included buying bakery-made buns and skipping the plastic bag and using a produce bag instead. Switching to soy milk in paper cartons to avoid the plastic milk jugs (in my region organic milk only comes in plastic or glass, which is supremely expensive.) I opted for yellow mustard in the glass jar rather than the plastic squeeze bottle which seemed like a given. Lastly I avoided a trip to Starbucks with friends by making everyone iced coffees at home using my recipe from my blog post A Cold Brew for You.  Overall there were no plastic shopping bags or straws.

Failures are inevitable, and I am using them as a learning experience for the coming weeks. For example, a late night grocery shop after work resulted in us needing to buy chicken in Styrofoam and plastic wrap packaging. This week I will be more prepared and purchase all the meat we require for the week from our butcher or deli counter.

Additionally, a few other failures including purchasing plastic clad cutlery for an up coming camping trip, some organic granola bars in the cupboard which came in wrappers and purchasing a soda stream flavor which was also sealed with plastic. As a solution for the granola bar problem, now that they are all gone, I am planning on making seed butter protein balls as replacements (I will post the recipe tomorrow) and store them in Pyrex containers for added freshness. As for the cutlery and soda stream plastics, I really ought to have just refrained from buying them! But I have learned my lesson now and will do better next week.

Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July Fails

Another hurdle was tortillas or wraps for fajitas and quesadillas which come in plastic packaging. For this I am at a loss since we don’t have a tortilla press or the right kind of grill to make them. If any of my readers have suggestions for me please leave a comment in the comments section! I would love to hear from you!

Looking forward to this week:

We are preparing to go car camping this upcoming weekend and I realised this is going to be a little more difficult. For many reasons foods associated with camping are wrapped in plastic to avoid spoilage and leaking, so finding plastic free options will take some planning.  My husbands grocery camping list looked originally something like this:

  • hotdogs
  • buns
  • chips
  • fruit bowl
  • bagged salad
  • deli potato salad
  • trail mix
  • granola bars

To compensate I modified the list to reflect some better choices which I think are great universal lessons for all of us. My new list looks like this:

  • sausages from Meridian Meats (wrapped in butchers paper)
  • bakery hotdog buns (BYOB – bring your own bag)
  • bulk crunch and munch chips (BYOB)
  • dried fruit (BYOB)
  • deli potato salad – ask them to put it into my own pyrex container
  • homemade iceberg salad sans dressing/on the side
  • DIY trail mix from the bulk section (BYOB)
  • protein balls

It would be a force of habit to run to the store and load up on these easy convenience foods, but only slightly more effort can eliminate a whole lot of plastic! And unlike at home where we recycle everything (including soft plastics and Styrofoam) all garbage at campsites have to be thrown into bear-proof containers which go to the landfill. So, in an effort to avoid polluting more to enjoy being in nature, I will do my best to pack out what we  have packed in.

This week/weekend I plan to do a series of mini blog posts in regards to how I prepare for a (close to) zero waste camping trip so you can follow along and take notes!

Cheers! Heather


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