Author Topic: Plastic-free February  (Read 481 times)

Fresh Bread

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Plastic-free February
« on: January 15, 2018, 10:18:35 PM »
I'm trying to reduce the amount of waste I produce as a general sort of life goal. We recycle where we can*, and buy recycled paper goods, but I feel like it would be better to reduce the amount of packaging coming into the house. 

Plastics especially are bugging me as there are few options to 'buy back' my recycled plastic. So I thought I'd try to have a month where no new plastic comes into the house. I'm going to document my wins and losses here. If anyone wants to join in or make suggestions then please go for it. I'm starting now so that I can start to plan how to do things differently and be ready to go come February.

Plastics waste we currently produce in vast amounts:
  • Frozen food wrappers (potato mash (our vice), veg, berries, frozen pizza inner wrapping)
  • Muesli bar wrappers
  • Bread bags
  • Plastic meat trays
  • Milk bottles
  • Tetrapak cartons (coconut milk)
  • Single use drink bottles
  • Single use sanitary products

My strategy (so far):
  • The frozen food and convenience food /drink wrappers I think will be fairly easy to avoid by being organised. I have a couple of bulk food shops nearby which I can visit for things like oats, lentils etc.
  • Bread bags - I have seen reusable options online which I have to investigate and some stores let you put their fresh bread into paper bags.
  • I have a local shop that sells meat in paper although I think technically it has a plastic coating.
  • Sanitary products - I need to invest in reusables.
  • Just avoid buying anything in packaging

Where I am going to really struggle is the milk bottles. Hubby drinks a lot of milk for breakfast and in coffees and I don't know what to do about this. Plus things like pain relief that you can't buy in bulk/ loose.

In terms of the financial implications, I suspect that some things are going to end up costing more (e.g. my local bulk food stores are more expensive than my cheapie supermarket). I'm hoping that extra costs there might be countered by buying a few reusable products and avoiding buying certain things like a bottle of drink when I'm out and about.

Wish me luck!

*Soft plastics go to red-cycle bins at the supermarket and paper, glass and hard plastics go in our kerbside bins. We put food scraps in our worm farm and compost bins.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2018, 10:47:35 PM »
This is truly badass! Can't wait to follow your journey.

chaskavitch

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 06:27:19 AM »
We have milk available in glass bottles from some companies at our local grocery store.  It's a chain, Sprouts, but it's like a cheaper Whole Foods, kind of, so more of a natural foods/organic place than a standard supermarket.  You can return the bottles for a $2 refund after they're empty.

Do you perhaps have milk delivery services?  There are a couple companies that do that here in the US - you just tell them how much milk you want delivered every week, and they give you a little box for your front step and a day of the week they fill you up.  I think they still use plastic bottles, but you just return them in your box every week.

Good luck with your challenge!  There is SO much plastic waste at our house, too, and it is terrible, but unless I forbid DH from doing any grocery shopping, we're still going to have plastic.

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 05:41:19 PM »
I have shopped for some things online. Hopefully they don't arrive in lots of plastic ;)

- We are nearly out of washing liquid and it comes in a big plastic bottle, so I bought a trial bag of soapnuts. They come in a fabric bag and can be composted after. ($2)
- 5 produce bags. I normally do without except for small things like beans but these will be handy AND they are made of recycled plastic. ($16)
- I've got a trial pack of cloth pads. They really do not look up to the job in the pic but we will see ($70 for 4!!)
- I haven't pressed the button yet, because I'm also trying to buy no clothes this year, but I have 3 pairs of period pants in my cart, the kind that are an all-in-one pad. ($100!!)

The menstrual stuff is going to take about a year to pay for itself and that's assuming it all works. But it will create a whole lot less waste. And will the soapnuts struggle to clean them??

I was also going to buy some reusable silicon food wraps for $25 but then I thought - we don't use gladwrap all that much anyway so I'd only really be replacing occasional baking paper use. I might change my mind on this later.

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2018, 05:48:21 PM »
We have milk available in glass bottles from some companies at our local grocery store.  It's a chain, Sprouts, but it's like a cheaper Whole Foods, kind of, so more of a natural foods/organic place than a standard supermarket.  You can return the bottles for a $2 refund after they're empty.

Do you perhaps have milk delivery services?  There are a couple companies that do that here in the US - you just tell them how much milk you want delivered every week, and they give you a little box for your front step and a day of the week they fill you up.  I think they still use plastic bottles, but you just return them in your box every week.

Good luck with your challenge!  There is SO much plastic waste at our house, too, and it is terrible, but unless I forbid DH from doing any grocery shopping, we're still going to have plastic.

I like your milk options, especially the returnable bottle bit. I can't find anyone supplying my city. There are options in other Australian cities it seems, so it's pretty shitty. I can get milk delivered here (some of the old milk delivery people switched to general grocery delivery) but only in plastic bottles unfortunately.

Thanks for the luck, I need it. I'm just realising how hard this is. Cheese? Yoghurt?

Serendip

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 06:42:28 PM »
Good job Fresh Bread!
 This is a big one--I have been slowly trying to move in this direction as well. It really opened my eyes to how much plastic is EVERYWHERE in our culture. Been researching zero-waste options and even though we have far to go I am happy that we are trying to reduce plastic use!

I've learned to always ask for "no straw" when ordering a drink and take a small bag in my purse as well as a take-away mug. My new years resolution is absolutely no plastic straws or coffee cups this year ;)

Recycling is an option but uses a lot of resources and often isn't terribly efficient.

We don't live in a big city with bulk options but thankfully a new business opened up nearby last year whereby I can order some bulk produce and they deliver them in glass jars (pay a deposit and get that cash back when you return the bottles). Today I am receiving my order of oats, lentils, flaxseeds, quinoa, cashews, etc.

I make oat milk and store it in a glass container (my partner uses less yogourt when he eats granola with oat milk)--(hard to find plastic-free options for yogourt unless you make your own)

We have a bakery that you can bring your own bag to, and I use beeswax wrappers instead of cling-wrap..I also will have one in my purse and if I purchase a baked good most places are happy to put it in my own wrap. I love these things..they keep cilantro good forever!!
https://canada.abeego.com

We also have bamboo toothbrushes and I was even able to find toothpaste in a glass-container (Toms of Maine will take their tubes back)

I use a diva-cup and have a couple pair of THINX panties--they do the job.

wordnerd

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 06:44:47 PM »
What a cool idea! I'm not ready to take the plunge yet, but interested to follow your journey and see what smaller changes I can make in my life. Thanks for posting!

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2018, 06:49:42 PM »
Yoghurt - I love it. We have a Easi-Yo thermos device where you add powder and water and then leave overnight but the powder comes in plastic bags. Our friends taught us how to make it with UHT milk, but I think there's plastic in those too. The other option is making it from normal milk, but then I'm back to the milk problem!

I think dairy may be the hardest thing. I could ration it?!

Serendip

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2018, 07:17:38 PM »
Yoghurt - I love it. We have a Easi-Yo thermos device where you add powder and water and then leave overnight but the powder comes in plastic bags. Our friends taught us how to make it with UHT milk, but I think there's plastic in those too. The other option is making it from normal milk, but then I'm back to the milk problem!

I think dairy may be the hardest thing. I could ration it?!

No option for glass containers for your milk?
That's too bad, we have them here and it's such a convenient option.

I wouldn't stress about it at this point,..seems like you are making good moves towards your goal and little by little things will come together! The more I learn about this lifestyle, the more alternatives show up :)

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2018, 07:45:32 PM »
Yoghurt - I love it. We have a Easi-Yo thermos device where you add powder and water and then leave overnight but the powder comes in plastic bags. Our friends taught us how to make it with UHT milk, but I think there's plastic in those too. The other option is making it from normal milk, but then I'm back to the milk problem!

I think dairy may be the hardest thing. I could ration it?!

No option for glass containers for your milk?
That's too bad, we have them here and it's such a convenient option.

I wouldn't stress about it at this point,..seems like you are making good moves towards your goal and little by little things will come together! The more I learn about this lifestyle, the more alternatives show up :)

Yeah, I hope so. I think I can ask those sorts at questions at the bulk food stores etc and eventually I'll bump into the person with the answer!

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 07:50:22 PM »
@Serendip I meant to ask how you make oat milk and whether it runs out much like shop bought oat milk. That would be a good plan for breakfast.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 08:35:38 PM »
We're on a "no packaging" month, too.

Glass is problematic in its own way as it's heavy to transport and takes a lot of fuel to produce. However, we're making an exception for yogurt in a glass jar (that we're then reusing as a bulk container).

No plastic/packaging is difficult. We needed new sponges and even the cellulose sponges come wrapped in plastic. Not being able to buy packaged meals means that cooking takes much, much, longer, which requires a lot of planning. Tonight's pizza meant making the dough and sauce from scratch.

Thankfully, the local grocery store has a good bulk section (including spices) and the nearby coop has anything else.

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 09:17:39 PM »
Wow, that's ambitious @bacchi! Plastics alone are hard enough! I'll be making pizza dough but the sauce is a big ask. I normally put tomato paste and pesto on and the thought of making both feels overwhelming!

What are you doing for other toppings? We have tuna & anchovies from cans. And do you have cheese on yours?

HappierAtHome

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 10:08:44 PM »
Yoghurt - I love it. We have a Easi-Yo thermos device where you add powder and water and then leave overnight but the powder comes in plastic bags. Our friends taught us how to make it with UHT milk, but I think there's plastic in those too. The other option is making it from normal milk, but then I'm back to the milk problem!

I think dairy may be the hardest thing. I could ration it?!

Do you have the Source Bulk Foods in your state? They sell unpackaged milk powder. And coconut milk powder too :-)

Fresh Bread

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2018, 03:45:28 AM »
Yoghurt - I love it. We have a Easi-Yo thermos device where you add powder and water and then leave overnight but the powder comes in plastic bags. Our friends taught us how to make it with UHT milk, but I think there's plastic in those too. The other option is making it from normal milk, but then I'm back to the milk problem!

I think dairy may be the hardest thing. I could ration it?!

Do you have the Source Bulk Foods in your state? They sell unpackaged milk powder. And coconut milk powder too :-)

Aha! Genius! The internet says I can make yoghurt from powder. It's a little unclear on whether hubby can steam it for coffee but he will experiment. I'm also not sure if powdered milk can make kefir (and therefore cheese) but will see what happens.

AerynLee

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2018, 07:49:05 AM »
I really like this challenge. I've been working on reducing my waste, including recyclables, and am ready to kick it up a notch.

My local co-op is having a bulk bin sale this weekend that I plan on hitting up using all reusable containers

chaskavitch

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2018, 08:00:58 AM »
I have shopped for some things online. Hopefully they don't arrive in lots of plastic ;)

- We are nearly out of washing liquid and it comes in a big plastic bottle, so I bought a trial bag of soapnuts. They come in a fabric bag and can be composted after. ($2)
- 5 produce bags. I normally do without except for small things like beans but these will be handy AND they are made of recycled plastic. ($16)
- I've got a trial pack of cloth pads. They really do not look up to the job in the pic but we will see ($70 for 4!!)
- I haven't pressed the button yet, because I'm also trying to buy no clothes this year, but I have 3 pairs of period pants in my cart, the kind that are an all-in-one pad. ($100!!)

The menstrual stuff is going to take about a year to pay for itself and that's assuming it all works. But it will create a whole lot less waste. And will the soapnuts struggle to clean them??

I was also going to buy some reusable silicon food wraps for $25 but then I thought - we don't use gladwrap all that much anyway so I'd only really be replacing occasional baking paper use. I might change my mind on this later.

I love my cloth produce bags.  I use them for bulk foods as well, like coffee and rolled oats, so I very rarely use the plastic bags at the store. 

For menstrual supplies, I have a diva cup (~$40?), and I don't even use any secondary pads or anything.  It is so easy to use/empty, and it holds enough volume that I only have to empty it twice a day or so (usually morning and afternoon).  I've rarely had any leakage problems, but I imagine the cloth pads would be nice for the last day or two of really low flow.  I've had two cups in the last 10 or 12 years - as long as you wash it well, it will last for a very long time.

MrsDinero

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2018, 08:02:09 AM »
I'm in!  I've been working on this for over a year, just making small changes.  Replacing ziplocs with Stasher bags and beeswrap, using parchment paper that is compostable, etc.

I can share my experience with going disposable free with feminine products.
I have not used any disposable products in months!

I have 3 thinx underwear, 2 overnight (heavy flow) reusable pads (bought from Etsy), and 5 reusable liners (Etsy).

It took me months to build this supply for myself based on my needs.

I also have the Diva cup but do not like it.   

The hardest part about going reusable was the mental hurdle.  I think most women are always told  having their period is gross and messy, instead of natural.   So having pads that needed to rinsed and washed instead of rolled up in toilet paper and tossed was a hurdle for me.

Now it is an easy process and I found a way that works for me.
~~Mrs. D.

chaskavitch

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2018, 08:11:25 AM »
I'm in!  I've been working on this for over a year, just making small changes.  Replacing ziplocs with Stasher bags and beeswrap, using parchment paper that is compostable, etc.

I can share my experience with going disposable free with feminine products.
I have not used any disposable products in months!

I have 3 thinx underwear, 2 overnight (heavy flow) reusable pads (bought from Etsy), and 5 reusable liners (Etsy).

It took me months to build this supply for myself based on my needs.

I also have the Diva cup but do not like it.   

The hardest part about going reusable was the mental hurdle.  I think most women are always told  having their period is gross and messy, instead of natural.   So having pads that needed to rinsed and washed instead of rolled up in toilet paper and tossed was a hurdle for me.

Now it is an easy process and I found a way that works for me.

Just out of curiosity, why don't you like the Diva cup?  Fit, ease of use, effectiveness, comfort?  I know there are multiple brands out there - I think I bought mine because I'd heard about it on a blog or something, and I saw it at Whole Foods one day and just picked it up.

MrsDinero

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 08:16:26 AM »
I'm in!  I've been working on this for over a year, just making small changes.  Replacing ziplocs with Stasher bags and beeswrap, using parchment paper that is compostable, etc.

I can share my experience with going disposable free with feminine products.
I have not used any disposable products in months!

I have 3 thinx underwear, 2 overnight (heavy flow) reusable pads (bought from Etsy), and 5 reusable liners (Etsy).

It took me months to build this supply for myself based on my needs.

I also have the Diva cup but do not like it.   

The hardest part about going reusable was the mental hurdle.  I think most women are always told  having their period is gross and messy, instead of natural.   So having pads that needed to rinsed and washed instead of rolled up in toilet paper and tossed was a hurdle for me.

Now it is an easy process and I found a way that works for me.

Just out of curiosity, why don't you like the Diva cup?  Fit, ease of use, effectiveness, comfort?  I know there are multiple brands out there - I think I bought mine because I'd heard about it on a blog or something, and I saw it at Whole Foods one day and just picked it up.
I don't like it mostly for comfort, but I also didn't like tampons for the same reason.  I have friends who love theirs and I really wanted to love mine.
~~Mrs. D.

AerynLee

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2018, 08:17:14 AM »
I go a different route on the menstrual products that works great for me but obviously isn't for everyone: I'm on the depo-provera shot which has completely eliminated my periods. Other than an 18 month experiment with a non-hormonal IUD I haven't had a period in over 10 years. There's a little bit of waste at the doctors office getting the shot every three months but overall I think it's probably less than even reusable products

acorn

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2018, 08:19:06 AM »
This is awesome. Looking forward to incorporating some of these into my grocery shopping.

I've used canvas bags for years and avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. But it is so hard to avoid the excessive plastic packaging in supermarkets...

(just to share: my favorite food packaging related stand up bit)

bacchi

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2018, 09:57:23 AM »
Wow, that's ambitious @bacchi! Plastics alone are hard enough! I'll be making pizza dough but the sauce is a big ask. I normally put tomato paste and pesto on and the thought of making both feels overwhelming!

What are you doing for other toppings? We have tuna & anchovies from cans. And do you have cheese on yours?

No cheese, which I prefer anyway. We added yeast flakes, which can somewhat substitute, and veggies and walnuts. Walnuts (and pepitas) on a pizza are great.

We also picked up some cloth bulk/produce bags like others have mentioned. We reused "single" use plastic bags to get bulk items (the grocery store doesn't weigh containers) but the cloth bags eliminate even those.

I made an exception for ice cream at a basketball game but I brought my own spoon (the container is compostable).

MrsDinero

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2018, 10:03:46 AM »
Not on the plastic-free side, but on the reducing unnecessary waste side.  I made several reusable cotton rounds.  These are great for replacing anything you need a cotton ball or disposable cotton pad (not menstrual pad).   

~~Mrs. D.

haypug16

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #24 on: Today at 11:33:30 AM »
I would love to join in this challenge! DH and I have made it a resolution to reduce waste. A couple weeks ago we brought our own Mason Jars to Wholefoods had them weighted and then went to the bulk section and filled them up. Zero waste :)

For produce I just put everything lose in my bags. I never really used produce bags anyway so that's not an issue for us.

For milk I buy it in the carton not the plastic jugs. Some do still have plastic spouts though. I will make it my goal for February to find a place where I can get milk in glass.

For menstrual products I also use the Diva cup ($27 on Amazon) which I love.

Bread is also an issue for me. I make some myself but am thinking of getting a bread maker

iowajes

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Re: Plastic-free February
« Reply #25 on: Today at 11:55:14 AM »
Not entirely sure what a muesli bar is, but it sounds like a granola bar.

Can I offer up one of my favorite "recipes"
https://www.hy-vee.com/recipes-ideas/recipes/fit-for-you-bars