Plastic Free July- Week 1

 

We have taken up the challenge and are doing Plastic Free July. Already after 5 days, we have been blown away from the amount of plastic that is on EVERYTHING!

Doing this challenge really is an eye opener. Going to the local grocery store wasn't as easy as we thought. We came prepared with a list of ingredients to make what we thought would be a fail proof plastic free recipe. Spoiler alert- it wasn't!  

We tried the recipe 'Easy Three Bean Salad' from "The Vegetarian Kitchen' by Herron books. We figured the more veggies equals less plastic. Although the majority of the ingredients were in cans we considered them the lesser of two evils as cans are able to be recycled. 

Here's our shopping list for the ingredients and method on how to make the recipe:

Easy Three Bean Salad

Salad

1x 400gms can butter beans, drained and rinsed

1x 400gm kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1x 400g green beans, drained and rinsed

4 spring onions, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, sliced

Dressing

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tbs honey

1/4 tbs ground black pepper

1/2 tbs  ground dry mustard

Method

  1. In a bowl, gently combine the butter beans, kidney beans, green beans, spring onions and celery.
  2. Place vinegar, oil, honey, mustard and black pepper in a jar with a secure lid and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  4. cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  5. remove from fridge and stir to refresh before serving.

Our Shopping Experience

The fresh and canned vegetables were the easy part of this recipe. We also had some of the ingredients at home, such as the honey, oil and pepper. So we didn't have to worry about buying these.

Then we got to the spring onions...

 

Spring Onions

Before this challenge, we had never noticed the rubber band with the plastic bread clip and tag that held together the bunch of spring onions. No matter how little the amount of plastic used on this product it is now placed in the out of bounds/ can not use list.

Now we need to find a substitute for spring onions...shallots- they should do the trick right? We wondered around the fresh produce section and found a wooden bucket of full of loose shallots. Phew, that was easy, now just a few more ingredients to go.

Shallots

 

Next on the list was the apple cider.

 

Apple Cider

We're so close to the finish line with completing our list of ingredients but every single brand of apple cider is in plastic bottles or has a plastic cap! Gotta skip that ingredient maybe we could substitute it with balsamic vinegar? We already have some at home so didn't need to purchase another bottle.

We're on the home run now with the last ingredient- mustard powder. 

Spices

 

We had high hopes for this one but when we got to the spice section our hearts sank. Dammit! the majority of the spices were in glass containers except for the tops, which at this point in our shopping experience was no longer a surprise- they were all sealed with plastic lids. 

Gotta skip this ingredient, we will have to rummage through our spice collection when we get home. Hopefully, we will find something suitable to mix with the veggies, beans and balsamic vinegar. At least we get to be creative by figuring out new recipe solutions! 

The Result:

To be completely honest and quite frankly it's a bit embarrassing to admit that after the tiresome shopping adventure- we ended up going out for dinner, pretty much every night this past week. 

Yep, kind of hanging our heads in shame here.

Box Of Shame

It was the easier option and besides, we need more time to brainstorm and figure out what was the best plan of attack to try and save this meal!

Will keep you posted on how it turned out- promise! We will be better prepared next week! :)

 

Supermarket Musings

The Organic Section

 

When you go to Coles and decide hey let's get some organic vegetables. So you walk on over to the organic section and you're faced with the prized vegetables all sealed up in plastic, proudly branded with the organic label. Really Coles!? This kind of defeats the whole purpose of not having your food exposed to toxic chemicals. Did you know that plastics can leach toxic chemicals into your food?

Check out these articles for further reading as to how:

Plastic Products Leach Toxic Chemicals

Plastics Leach Chemicals

Surely there are safer ways to package food? What about the good old fashioned paper bags, put a organic logo stamp on the bag and it will give it that rustic yet environmentally chic look? Coles will be onto a winner!

Milk Products 

 

Dairy, almond, soy, rice or whatever type of milk you drink, they are all packaged in some sort of plastic! Although it was pointed out to us that for the 2 litre containers the cardboard paper would probably bust as it wouldn't be able to hold that weight of milk. But surely there is another way? Another type of material that is biodegradable that could be used? 

What are your thoughts? How can we encourage change within supermarkets? 

Butter and Margarine

Butter was the environmental winner between the two. It was wrapped in foil or a type of baking paper. But does baking paper have plastic?? Can the foil even break down?

According to AZo Materials aluminum foil can be recycled. Full details in the link below:

Aluminium Foil - Recycling, Source Reduction and Energy Recovery

As for the baking paper, there is also good news. "Natural grease proof paper does not have any chemical treatments or coatings. It can be recycled, composted or burnt." explained by a blog post on grease proof paper by Plastic Is Rubbish.  

However all of the margarine containers were all in plastic tubs. And honestly who reuses these? If you do happen to, we would love to hear how you reuse them! Post your comments at the bottom of this page.

 

The Positives

Italians Having Coffee

Image by Mark Horn/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

A better way of having Coffee

Before doing the plastic free July challenge we were always in a rush to get to and from places. For the most part, this is still the case but now we factor in extra time to sit down and have a coffee. This has been a game changer. By doing this, it actually gives you time to relax and enjoy your coffee to its fullest!

Back during our time In Milan, Italy, it was very rare to see people walking around with takeaway coffee. The Italians would be found tightly packed around a bar like table, sipping their espresso or flipping their heads backwards to take the entire shot in one go.

So we are taking the lead from the Italians and taking a moment to enjoy the coffee in the cafe.  Plus we are preventing the cups from being thrown into landfill.

In a 2016 online article by ABC News they interviewed Richard Fine, the founder of Biopak, a biodegradable coffee cup manufacturer. Richard stated that approximately "up to 90 percent of all disposable cups ended up in landfill, equating to around 60,000 kilogrammes of plastic waste per annum." and that "Australians use [approximately] 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year." It's quite shocking numbers, so we're sticking to having our coffee indoors! It's a win, win situation!

That was our week so far! If you like our blog please share our page on Facebook and Instagram.

If you have any 'how to' question about Plastic Free July, please comment in the section below, we will try to find the answers for you! 

Next Week

We will have a special guest Rebecca Kelley and will interview her on her previous experience taking up the Plastic Free July challange. She will share her tips and tricks on how she avoided plastic and reveal her secrets with something only woman have to worry about.. 

Stay tuned!

Nadia FotiComment