The other day I was at the grocery store and looked down at my cart. Once I peeked past the cute kid in the front and the other cute kid trying to get run over, I noticed that almost everything I was buying came in plastic. Even the veggies.
Now I consider myself pretty eco-conscious and there is a lot we do (or don’t do) to be good to ol’ Mother Earth, but somehow all this plastic has snuck up on me. It’s not like we drink bottled water, but plastic is EVERYWHERE.
We’ll never be totally plastic-free like the very inspiring Beth Terry at My Plastic-Free Life. We are trying to make a move that direction, however.
I started with breakfast. The boys eat cereal and yogurt every weekday morning. They have eaten this since they were each six months old.
The ingredients are:
Oatmeal (in a plastic bag inside a big cardboard box)
Ten grain cereal (Bob’s Red Mill–in a plastic bag)
Blueberries (frozen–in a plastic bag)
Yogurt (in a plastic container)
You see my problem here. It turns out to be an easy fix. The two cereals I can buy in bulk at the Co-op in Bozeman. Since I drive over there once a week for work, I can incorporate a shopping trip to my Bozone day.
The blueberries have to go. I’m replacing them with raisins and other dried fruit that can be bought in bulk at the Co-op. We’ll miss the blueberries, but dried blueberries are too pricey. The other trick is to find dried fruit that isn’t sweetened; I don’t want to add sugar to breakfast. I can dry it myself in the summer, but there is no local (or even good) fruit during the Montana winter.
We were buying the largest sized yogurt we could find, but still going through a lot of containers. I decided I would make my own. I don’t really have the time or attention to detail to do it on the stove (there is a lot of heating to a specific temperature, cooling, heating…) so I bought a yogurt maker. Yes, it is mostly plastic, but it is a one-time purchase that we will use every week for a long time.
Deni 5600 1-Quart Electric Yogurt Maker
I got this one, but kind of wish I had purchased the one with eight containers instead of six. It takes about 9 hours at this altitude, so I’d rather get more made with the same amount of electricity. Oh well. I’ve been making it for about a month and it turns out really well.
Now, I’ve added milk to our breakfast, since that is what the yogurt is made from. It’s not like I can buy it in glass (maybe I could find that in Bozeman, but it would be too expensive, anyway). Not sure what to do about that, but at least we are using less plastic overall.
Reducing our plastic means more planning and more time on food prep. To that end, I’ve made a meal plan for four weeks. I am going to rotate it three times throughout the winter and then come up with a spring plan. It took forever, but all the ingredients are listed on the weekly menu, so I can make a shopping list once a week. I also put necessary recipes in the binder so everything is together (and anyone can pick up this binder, know what’s for dinner, that the ingredients are here and how to make it.) Man, I can be organized at times.
Since we live in this lovely little town of 7,000 people, I have to head over the hill (25 miles) to the big city for some shopping. It’s a little ironic to have to drive 50 miles to reduce our waste, but like I said, I go to my office over there weekly anyhow.
I’m also buying all my beans, pasta, spices and grains in bulk now. And grinding our peanut butter (that sounds kind of hardcore, but just means I hold a container under the peanut grinder at the store and push the “on” button). It’s all stuff I used to do, but since it requires a trip to Bozeman, I’ve mostly given it up. I’m back on track now.
If you are wondering why I want to reduce our plastic you can read about how plastic is unhealthy for us and unhealthy for the planet in this article.
I also want to stop buying canned goods (which is why I am buying all those bulk beans) because every can is lined with BPA. Except for a very few exceptions, but none at our store. Want to know why?
** BPA- What is it? Where is it? Why do we care?
You can watch Beth Terry’s awesome talk at TEDx here. How convenient.
I’ll be updating you more on our plastic reduction process (PRP) because I hope it will inspire you to make a couple little changes, too.
4 thoughts on “My less-plastic life”
Great Job! We started with our food too. It makes a ton of difference. You many not see it right away, but we could NEVER go back now.
You can use the gallon milk containers for the bulk stuff if you don’t have glass jars. They have nice pour spouts, you are reusing the plastic, and they are durable enough that if one gets dropped it is no big deal.
I broke a glass jar of flax seeds once. Total bummer. We were finding them in the kitchen for weeks.
Can you get fresh you-pick blueberries in Icetana in the summer?
We go to a you-pick blueberry farm, have fun picking some, and then buy 40 additional pounds of picked berries to take home and freeze. They last until the next blueberry season, even though we eat a lot of blueberries. When you buy them in season, at the farm, they cost about a quarter of what frozen blueberries cost at the store. No fresh fruit freezes and thaws in better shape than blueberries.
And yes, we put them in gallon ziploc bags…. I suppose you could use quart-size Ball jars.
I am very inspired by your commitment to change and impressed by your menu organization!! Way to go. I will explore ways that we can make small changes to reduce our waste!
@G.G. The milk containers for bulk is a great idea! I do use glass jars, but sometimes they aren’t big enough, so milk containers would be perfect.
@Chris- No blueberries in Icetana, but we do pick raspberries in the summer. Unfortunately, they are about the same price as at the store, but take way longer to collect. I had some in the freezer, but we are about out no. We’ll have to summer in Oregon…
@Jacqueline You should post any changes you make! We can inspire each other.