The reality of plastic-free shopping

This morning, armed with my shopping list, meal plan and a rare full tank of petrol, I decided to see how many things I could purchase without generating plastic waste.

As Husband didn’t have any work this morning, he opted to join me and our youngest child (4) on our mission. Given that no one was remaining in our home, the dog had to come too*, which added an extra dimension to our trip – an almost full car, a time limit in each shop, and little space to put the groceries.

Three supermarkets and one private dairy later, and this was the state of affairs:

The circled items contain plastic packagaing. Though the above picture isn’t that clear, I hope that it’s visible enough…

Anyway – the first place we called was Lidl. I like shopping here because they have a bakery section with loose items, a good selection of loose veg, and you can buy nuts by weight – ideal snacks for after school. It’s also cheap, so if I can get the majority of my shopping here, I’m onto a winner. I also made sure to buy something from the bakery section for us to snack on for when the 4 yr old announced ‘I’m Hungry’, lest we accidentally gave in to the inevitable incessent requests for something grab-sized and packaged.

Again, the picture quality isn’t amazing but items on the list which did come housed in plastic were those which I knew would be plastic-wrapped anywhere but which were cheaper at Lidl.

These were:

  • Muesli (one of our sensory safe foods which must come from Lidl anyway).
  • Double cream – I will use the pots for packed lunch deserts/freezing things in.
  • Greek Style Yogurt – for a recipe in which the yorgurt serves as marinate. Leftovers will be breakfast/decanted into smaller containers for packed lunch and the bucket will be used to store/freeze/transport items from the package free shop.
  • Spatzle/German Egg Pasta – Husband’s taste of home. I don’t begrudge him that and Lidl only sell it every few months so we stock up. I will use the bags to freeze things in as they come with metal ‘ties’.
  • Cod Fillets – I don’t know. Husband put them in.
  • Scottish Baby Potatoes – See ‘Cod fillets’.

After Lidl, it was on to Morrisons. There is maybe a mile between the two, through the town centre. On my own, with a shopping trolley, I would definitely have walked it in my pre-children days. Of course, in my pre-children days, you didn’t get fined for staying too long in one car park. This ‘parking eye’ nonsense means that unless you plan to ignore all the fines you get sent until they leave you alone**, you have to keep moving your car between supermarket car parks. In our case, we had to travel through the centre of an already concested town.

Anyway, that’s a rant for another day… Plastic purchased from Morrisons, bearing in mind we took our own jars for olives etc:

  • 4 Packs of salted Brittish Butter (this makes many things a safe-food – non-negotiable)
  • 6 packs of Stockan’s oatcakes (though I forgot to circle two cheese-flavour packs for the picture). These are wrapped in a thin layer of plastic and nothing else, unlike the likes of Nairns – for example – which are in cardboard and then further plastic inside. Both Stockan’s and Nairns use sustainably sourced palm oil for their oatcakes.***
  • 1 pack of fresh corriander – we can grow this in future, but I accidentally killed off the last plant and the new one hasn’t germinated yet. Buying cut herbs in a bag seemed less wasteful than buying living herbs in a pot when I already had a pot.

Finally, we made our way to Tesco, which I’d been hoping to avoid, but Morrisons had run out of fresh yeast (on the plus side, the yeast from Tesco is free so… bonus). Another store within a mile – again it was necessary to repark.

As you can see, the reciept does not say ‘fresh yeast’ on it… basically, you just walk up to the bakery section in large stores and ask the staff for some fresh yeast, please. They then go grab you some, give it to you, and you show it to the cashier as you leave. Then that’s it – you’re not charged (or shouldn’t be).

You might also be able to see that most of what’s on the Tesco reciept is plastic wrapped, but in this case, I’m glad of the individual plastic packaging. Only the tea, the asprin and two of the essentials toothpastes came home with me. The rest went into the foodbank collection box. I’m not sure how easy it would be to distribute a huge sack of salt, but little plastic shakers are easy enough to pass out. Obviously “poverty plus plastic” is too large a topic for a layman like me to tackle, but it’s instances like this which  raise a lot of questions for me. It’s easy to get judgy about plastic use, but our situations are all so difference and there are so many without a choice – it’s a nice reminder to be gentler with another.

But I digress, of the stuff that came back with me, the following contained plastic:

  • The toothpaste tubes – a ‘sensory safe’ item, this is non-negotiable.
  • Curry powder – not available in larger containers in any of the supermarkets we visited and not available at this time from our plastic-free shop.
  • Asprin tablets – the only thing which will touch my migraines. I live in the cope of finding these housed in glass bottles somewhere but have yet to be successful.
  • Leaf tea – the box is cardboard, there are no bags so no plastic there, but the film beneath the lid is ‘not currently recyclable’. Still, it’s a start.

And then we went to the dairy. I refilled my three 1-litre glass bottles, as well as a large plastic milk bottle originally from Tesco and a plastic 1 litre tonic-water bottle. The later two were sterilised using milton, so didn’t require heat. I’ve frozen both of the plastic containers so that we will have lower-waste milk for longer this week.

You might have noticed a large quantity of some of the goods – the muesli and the toothpaste, the tea and croissants, for example. These are either part of our ‘safe’ set of products, or are part of the ever-vital routine of our household (Sunday morning croissants – mmm). I’m trying to gather a little ‘backlog’ (I don’t want to call it a stock-pile yet), in case Brexit does disrupt food lines to the extent expected. At least this way, I have options.

If you’d like to read more about stockpiling, Jack Monroe – as ever – has you covered.

So yes, having been to 4 seperate businesses, 12 out of the 45 different items purchased were packaged with some kind of single-use plastic. That’s just over a quarter of all food.

__
*The dog happened to us, almost accidentally. He was originally purchased as a Jack Russel x Chihuahua by someone who, presumably, had never seen either breed (given that he’s undeniably a sight-hound x labrador). On his growing larger than the family had expected, they put him on Gumtree as ‘free to a good home’ and he was lucky enough to be picked up by a local greyhound charity. Placed with one home, it soon became evident that he couldn’t be left alone without destroying things so he was moved on. To us. Because 99% of the time there’s someone in our house, he’s usually the happiest, easiest dog ever. On that other 1% of occassions we toss a coin and either leave him here (in which case he destroys ALL THE THINGS) or we take him with us. Today we took him along.

That was a really long back-story for one sentence… oops.

**I don’t recommend it. It’s pretty stressful…. or so I hear. Ahem.

***I know you can make oatcakes fairly easily, and I do quite often, but these are just so great to have in the house – ready made – for if my packed-lunch plans fail, or if the bread doesn’t work for lunch and we don’t have time to wait for me to make an alternative.

My Zero Waste Kitchen – Dorling Kindersley

This is a really cute, colourful little book – laid out in classic Dorling Kindersley fashion. As one would expect from this publisher, there is a lot of really solid advice here, spread out in bright and cheery text boxes.

Overall, this reads like a cook-book for the experienced, rather than an environmental book and I’m not entirely sure who it’s aimed at. If you’re the sort of person who cooks the sorts of things in the book then you know most of these tricks already, however if you need the book to tell you this stuff, then you probably need more detail.

My eldest child (8) really enjoyed reading it and said it was very educational, but at the same time, how many 8 year olds are in charge of a kitchen? Perhaps this is something for students who are just starting out in their own flats?

That sounds disparaging, but I’m a really experienced cook and there was still new information to me here – I didn’t clock that microwaving my dish cloths would sterilise them, but of course that’s A Thing. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that before!

I guess this is one to get from the library if your local brach carries it. A great once-through sort of book with a few key points to take away.

What great waste-reducing tips have you found in unlikely places? Why not come and share them with me here or on Twitter?

 

Making the most of what we’ve got – thoughts on food

It’s really easy to get into the habit of automatically ditching things, either because it’s what you’ve seen others do, or simply because you’re used to produce looking slightly different – shining cream potatoes or glossy-skinned apples, for example.

This year, our apples took a real battering. The skins were cracked by the sun and rain in combination, and beneath those blemishes were what looked like apple scab. Reading online, the best way to ‘treat’* the fungus is to make sure there’s as little detritus left from the tree for the fungus to grow on, after the tree has dropped its fruit and leafs for the year.

Being honest, my initial thought was to simply scoop everything up into the compost after the last leaf had fallen, but the tree has always been such an excellent fruiter that doing so seemed oddly like the betrayal of an old friend.

So, when a child-sized barrow full of apples was proudly presented to me, I decided to have a go at making the most of the fruit that was there, regardless of looks.

Sure enough, there is a lot of unusable apple in there. The cracks in the peel had made the flesh into a wasp-buffet, which in turn had turned the wasps into gourmet food for our local bird pupolation so stayed on after supper for the apple desert course.

Knowing that apple scab wasn’t a harmful fungus, I decided to just cut away the cracked areas and peel the skin off. Usually I don’t bother peeling the apples from the garden – they’re grown so far from anything that even resembles a pesticide that a rinse under the tap is more than enough to clean them – but on this occasion, I made the choice to strip them back to the fruit itself.

When that was done, I chopped them up and separated the core from the flesh. I packed the cores into a jar and covered them with a water/sugar solution to make cyder vinegar. There are recipes everywhere but Spot of Earth does a pretty detailed tutorial of how to make it.

With the ‘proper’ fruit, I filled a crumble pan and made a topping – a vegan one, in fact (using vegetable oil in place of butter works really well if you use golden sugar – the oil is cheaper too). There were still a good few cups full of chopped apple left so I grabbed the baby slow-cooker which I inherited from my grandmother, filled it and made my go-to apple butter recipe – 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of powdered cinamon for every 2 cups of fruit .

The apple butter will top my porridge in the coming months, and my toast, and any yogurt I happen to achieve… or honestly, I’ll just eat it with a spoon. It’s honestly the greatest preserve I have ever eaten.

It got me to thinking about other foods which don’t get eaten because of… well, I don’t know why.

I’ve always dug out the seeds from pumpkins, melons and squashes – because why would I buy these when they come free in my food. I either toast them in the oven – if we’re already drying mushrooms, or herbs or vegetable peel – or on the car dash-board. I either use them in bread to add some extra texture, or just snack on them.

So when we didn’t eat all of the cake that I made earlier in the week, I resolved not to throw it out. In fairness to my family, this particular cake was terrible – I ran out of cocoa powder so it was a not-so-chocolatey batter that I overbaked in cupcake cases to become what were essentially powder-dry hockey-pucks.

Ahem. Not my finest hour.

Anyway, using a pestle and mortar – I kid you not – I mashed up the ‘cake’. Then I poured homemade cherry schnapps onto it. Not much – just a tablespoon, but it’s potent stuff so that flavoured the lot. Then I folded this cake-powder mush into some chocolate buttercream icing. This, I rolled into balls and covered in dark chocolate.

Honestly, they’re so good I would make bad cake on purpose again.

After the cake incident, I had a look through the council-collected food waste caddy we keep under the sink. The contents tend to be things that are half-eaten. Single, once-bitten potatoes – for example – feature heavily, but not as heavily as Husband’s coffee grounds or my spent loose-leaf tea.

So my challenge is – how would you use these things? The tea and coffee, specifically, rather than the bitten tatties. Why not come and let me know on Twitter?

__

*Unfortunately, there’s no real way to treat it that I’ve seen so I can only really attempt to minimise its impact on future crops.

Sensory issues and the environment

This is something of a sensitive topic, and isn’t one I had expected to cover so soon. But with a post about oral hygeine coming up, I wanted to talk about something seldom discussed in regards to budget or environmentalism – sensory issues.

In the case of our family, sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a result of an autistic spectrum condition, but many people struggle with certain textures and sounds – even amongst the neurotypical population (nails down a blackboard, anyone? Open-mouthed chewing?). In some cases, a person’s senses can be so hurt by a certain taste, or sound, or feel that all but a handful of foods are considered ‘safe’. I don’t have science at hand to support me on this one, but often, these safe foods are provided via the constant, unchanging recipes of ready-meals and convenience foods.

These tend to be the sorts of food which are heavily packaged in plastic, but if your child/ren or other family members won’t eat anything else, what options do you have?

Honestly – not a lot. In our case, toothpaste and brushing is the issue and we’re not going to get plastic-free in this area without endangering a child’s dental health, so it’s just not happening. What I’m trying to do instead is change my own actions first and explain them, in the hopes that modelling my beliefs and having an open dialogue will help. I’m also going to make alernatives available in case – as it occassionally does – the urge to try something new does occur and my child chooses to attempt the toothpowder/whatever I eventually decide on.

Perhaps it won’t though. And that’s OK too. I keep telling my children that we can only control our own actions – not those of others, and I think it’s important that I adhere to that myself.

But none of this is addressing the issue of food packaging.

Is there anything that can be done about having to buy food that’s heavily wrapped in plastic?

That really depends on where you’re buying your food and just how restrictive a diet the person with sensitivities has. According to Greenpeace, Iceland has the best policy for reducing single use and non-recyclable plastics, with Morrisons coming a close second. If you could swap – for example – brand name fish-fingers for own-brand ones in either of these places, that’s a good start. Though as I say, that does rely on there being a certain degree of culinary flexibility.

And if you can’t make the change? That’s probably ok. Do the best you can with what you’ve got.

I worry that there is a huge degree of ableism inherent in the ideal of a low-plastic lifestyle. I haven’t even begun to touch upon the pre-chopped vegetables that are housed in plastic and the positive impact these products can have on the lives of those who need them. I’m always reminded of the deep joy experienced by a friend with macular degeneracy – who died at 92 – when he discovered packets of prepared veg. Buying diced beef and ready-cut carrots, potatoes and onions meant that he could dump the lot in a slow cooker with a can of beer and feed himself a tasty, hot meal every night. It allowed him to remain in his own home until his eventual death without relying on me or his neighbours to make his food for him. He was a proud man who deeply valued his independence, something that the much maligned packaged vegetables granted him.

It was, literally, life-changing to have the option of these products, just as I’m sure it’s life-changing when one stumbles upon a safe food for a relative with extreme sensory issues.

I genuinely am doing my best to reduce our waste but there are a number of sensory constraints in our household. It makes this all very challenging and ultimately, we are all human and are all learning. I ask that you’re gentle with me when I post things which are less than ideal becuase I promise – I have looked for alternatives and I will continue looking.

A Bunch Of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy – Sarah Lazarovic

I first read A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy by Sarah Lazarovic when I was looking at how to reduce our outgoings, rather than as part of a more eco-friendly way of life.

To a point, thriftyness and earth-friendly living are very much two sides of the same coin, and this book beautifully sums that up. Use things up, borrow what you don’t have, swap if you need to, buy used, make it yourself and only if you can’t do any of the above, buy new. It’s great advice – both financially and ecologically.

Lazarovic has made an absolutely glorious book here. The illustraitions and text – if you can call them that – are individual works of art, and it’s a genuine pleasure to read. There’s no guilt-trip attached to purchasing – no inherent judgement – but it still manages to get its message across. The overall tone is warm and humerous, and – a massive bonus for me – I managed to read it in a single afternoon.

Part of the book includes the ‘Buyerarchy of Needs’:

I think this is probably the core concept that a reader should take away from the book – i.e. consume slowly to reduce your impact on the world and your wallet.

Whilst I love this little orange tome, I think it speaks to a specific demographic – those of us with enough disposable income to spend without having to employ the pinpoint precision of those on the breadline, those whose consumption is already limited to life’s absolute necessities. It highlights the fact that there is a great deal of privilidge inherent in living a broadcastable low-waste lifestyle – to have to choose low-impact alternatives is, by definition, to have the luxury of choice. So yes, let’s choose sustainability when we can, but let’s also fight for legislation which makes these low-waste options available to everyone at an affordable price. Because speaking honestly – who creates less waste? The low income family who watches their electricity consumption, their water metre, their food waste and clothes use, or those of us who have to think about whether or not we “need” a new jumper that happens to be really pretty? I know who my money’s on…

But I digress.

It’s definitely a book I’ve appreciated having. Because I’m a messy human, it tends to just sit on my living room table so periodically, the bright orange cover serves as an invitation to leaf through. That each two page spread is a work of art on its own makes it really easy to dip in and out of on the odd occasion I’m at a loss for something to do for a minute.

Regardless of where you are with reducing your waste, this is a really nice book to have, even if it’s just for the art.

Mending Daughter’s Waterbottle – a Do Nation Pledge

I wrote recently about fixing my sunglasses as part of Do Nation’s Fix It Pledge.

Specifically, I said I planned to mend a minimum of four things. Whilst I haven’t managed to get round to mending my quilt or oven yet, I’m already halfway there after tackling my shades and now, Daughter’s water-bottle.

We bought this SIGG flask for my now-eight-year-old when she hit the six-month mark. As a life-long chewer, the sports cap of the bottle had seen better days. I was all ready to shell out on a Klean Kanteen for her when she pointed out that if you could get replacement parts for other branded bottles, you might be able to get one for hers.

So, we did a quick search and I was really impressed by SIGG’s website and the available spares. Whilst the cap itself was far beyond the point of unhygeinic, the lid was totally fine and it was so heartening to see that you could purchase both parts seperately, allowing me to reuse the lid we already had.

The ‘repair’ was so easy that I nearly didn’t write about it. I simply screwed the old cap off, clicked the lid away, clicked it onto the new cap and then screwed that on… job done!

The bottle is now good for another seven years! Inevitably, she’s going to grow out of the beautiful animal pattern by then, but I’m not above a flask with zebras on so when that time comes, we can do a swap.

My singular complaint here is the cost of the postage. The cap was an affordable £3.49, but I didn’t get the option to select second class delivery when I ordered – something which would have made the total cost lower.

Still, two repairs down and only two to go – I wonder how many I can overshoot by, before the end of my pledge!

Have you taken part in a Do Nation pledge?

Turning the Tide on Plastic – Lucy Siegle

When the lovely refillery in our village opened (how lucky are we?), they were selling copies of Lucy Siegle’s book, Turning the Tidy on Plastic.

Image

I’ve read Lucy’s earlier book – ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World’ – and really like the way she writes, so I couldn’t wait to check this one out of the library.

Aside from being struck by the irony of the book arriving in a plastic jacket when the publisher had taken pains to remove the plastic from the cover paper, this was pretty much what I’d hoped for; a realistic account of how you can go about removing single-use plastic from your home.

The book begins by recounting the history of plastic and in further irony, how it was initially develloped to help preserve animal life. With tortoise-shell buttons and ivory billiard balls being replaced by plastic equivalents, a lot of the early innovators in the field had conservation in mind. I found this especially heartbreaking – I don’t know if it’s just me but the idea of the substance being twisted by greed to the point where it’s choking the oceans really hit home and strengthened my resolve to remove more single-use plastics from my life.

I also found the following passage incredibly sad, and true, and moving:

Image

After having discussed what plastic was supposed to be vs. what it became, Siegle examines what we can do about it.

Initially, she encourages people to examine what they’re disposing of through keeping a diary of items which enter their bin. After which, it’s easier to identify what is/isn’t avoidable.

What I liked most was that she discussed something which has been on my mind for a long while – the aesthetic of low/zero waste on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram in contrast with what this concept actually looked like in peoples’ homes. It’s often a difficult thing to covet beautiful wooden surfaces, stainless steel bottles and bamboo cutlery when what you’re living with is aging formica, a ‘disposable’ plastic bottle from six months ago (which you really will get round to replacing with a ‘proper’ reusable one soon) and some plastic cutlery you got from a visit to Pret. The interesting part here being that whilst the former list of things looks pretty, it’s probably more wasteful at this point in time because these items have been specifically created – thus using energy and resources – whilst the latter existed anyway and you’re saving them from landfill…

This touched on what’s probably been the hardest part of reducing plastic for me – the stationary nature of the ‘journey’. It can appear that nothing changes, when in fact, simply by this fact alone, everything has changed. By keeping our possessions the same – by preserving what’s there already instead of dizzily consuming more – we’re changing everything – we’re suddenly part of the solution.

I learned a lot of things reading this – particularly about how important it is to know what you can and can’t recycle and why recycling isn’t a solution, rather than a stop-gap.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to reduce the amount of plastic waste in their life.

Other than this and ‘To Die For’, what are your favourite books about the environment? Recommend them here, or on Twitter. ❤

Let’s talk about water…

Last time I posted, I made a list detailing some of the areas of my life in which I saw the biggest need for change.

The first thing I’m going to tackle is relatively easy as it doesn’t require an initial outlay  – I’m going to time my showers. Normally, this is the part where I would try and calculate any financial saving that I was making so that I could add the money to my weekly shopping budget. As loose fruit/veg & bread etc. tend to cost more than packaged, I like to reallocate any money that I save to help cover the additional cost of making ethical choices, but on this occasion there isn’t going to be any financial saving because my water consumption isn’t metered. As with the rest of Scotland, our water is included in our council tax.

Still, Having read 12 Small Acts to Save Our World, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that all the water which comes into our home has been treated to be fit for purpose, which in turn means that it’s passed through a treatment plant. The more water I use (or indeed, waste) the more energy that’s required to treat it.

I suppose that on a remote level, I’ll be saving money because my water-heater won’t need to work for as long if I’m not heating as much water, but those sorts of sums are beyond me. So, for now, the food budget remains the same.

Anyway… The ‘control’ shower… by putting a plug in my bath, turning my shower on and starting a timer, I aimed to see just how much water I was using on average.

DSC_0080

My shower took just under 7 minutes (I had to dry myself before I could grab my phone and camera to stop the clock and take a picture, hence the times not matching).

This is how much water was in the bath.

DSC_0081

Please don’t judge the state of the tub/how cloudy the water is… or the shampoo bar residue to the right of the taps… I didn’t clean the place before taking this picture, which I probably should have thought to do, but there you go.

On some level, I did expect to see this sort of amount of water – it’s less than I’d use in a bath, which is what I’ve always been told is great about showers. But it’s also a lot more than I would like. It was around 10cm deep and that’s a lot. I mean, that’s more than I bathed my kids in when they were babies so that was a bit eye-opening.

DSC_0087

This is my tub – still filthy – after a two minute shower. You can’t really tell from the photo but there’s less than half of the water of the previous shower in there (which makes sense, given that I was in there less than half as long…)

If you have the means to do this (i.e. a shower over a bath), I would definitely give it a go. It’s one thing to read about the amount of water you save, but to actually see it for youself really brings it home.

Having looked at the Do Nation Shower Power pledge, it looks like tackling my showers in this way can potentially save 11kg of CO2 in a two month period…

That’s 66kg over a year.  If everyone in my family does the same, that’s 264kg CO2 per year (presuming they shower a similar length of time to me).

Have you tried any of the Do Nation pledges? Why not tell me about it here, or on Twitter?

Making Yogurt

On Thursday,  I mentioned that I’d managed to get my hands on some glass-bottle milk.

At £1.20 per litre, this rivals the speciality jersey milk that you get in the supermarkets on price, though on taste, it’s FAR better.

That said, it’s not something I indulge in often. Not because I don’t think it’s worth the money – it absolutely is. The cows are happy, the milking process is literally transparent (with a giant window where customers can watch), and the money goes directly to the farmer rather than a huge corporation. That the bottles are refillable from a vending machine on site and that I can also purchase ice-cream there are the icing on the proverbial cake.

I don’t buy it often because I’m not often passing so close to Aberdeen, and because I’m really mean with my petrol. A round-trip to the dairy takes around an hour and when I’m already spending more on taking the kids to school/nursery than I am on feeding us every month, this is a fuel expense I really can’t justify.

So when I do get it, it’s exactly as precious as all milk should be.

Which is why my heart was honestly in my mouth the whole time I went about making yogurt the other day. I figured, if I could use the refillable milk to make natural yogurt from, then I could do away with another single-use plastic from our lives (and potentially have an excuse to go to the dairy more often…)

The thrift shop my mum volunteers at was selling an old-style Easiyo set, which I bought for £3. Normally, you use sachets of powder with this (which I guess is still a reduction in single-use plastic too as the sachets will be smaller than a yogurt pot and less bulky to transport), but I didn’t want to add another grocery to my shopping list.

I’d read yogurt making tutorials online before which basically involve tossing a couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt into 500mls or so of milk, heating to body temperature and then leaving overnight so I thought I would combine the two methods – I added some yogurt and milk to the Easiyo pot, then followed the instructions on the website

Except I did it wrong. I misunderstood where I was supposed to put the pot and for the first 30 seconds it ended up submerged in boiling water.

It worked, regardless, though the end result is rather thin. I did take a video of it slopping off the spoon, but unfortunately, I can’t get it to load so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The taste is right, the texture – all wrong.

After some internetting, I discovered that keeping the yogurt at a steady temperature for longer is one way to go, so I might try that in future – using my trusty Thermos flasks instead of the Easiyo. This time though, I tried straining it through a coffee filter….

Which is fine, but it does create the waste product ‘whey’.  On this occassion, I’ve used half of the whey as a water substitute in these super cheap tomato scones but this isn’t a sustainable process financially, given that realistically speaking, I’d be throwing this whey out if I were to regularly strain yogurt.

Each 1l bottle of milk costs £1.20 (not counting the fuel to get to the dairy), which means that 100mls costs 12p. I made 600mls of yogurt, so 6×12=72p. But then I strained the yogurt, which meant that I actually got 300mls of yogurt for 72p, and when you can buy natural yogurt at 45p per 500ml*, the whole endeavour becomes something of a moot point.

I checked how much it would be to buy the Easiyo sachets online. A sachet, after all, is less packaging than a bucket-like tub so if I could make yogurt in this way, it would still be a plastic saving. Unfortunately, the sachets cost between £2.50 – £3 and make 1kg of yogurt, which is significantly more expensive than the massive Lidl bucket containing the same amount.

So… what’s the bottom line with yogurt? In short, it’s got to be a rare treat, rather than a staple. Whether I make it myself or buy it in plastic, it needs to be a very rare thing indeed.

Sad times. 😦

If you still eat meat and dairy, do you still consume yogurt? If so, how do you do so sustainably? ❤

__
*Prices via MySupermarket – correct at time of publishing.

Reduced-plastic grocery shop – Morrisons

On Monday, I went to Morrisons to do my shopping.

While I was there, I saw some pretty great things – my favourite being trays of local eggs where you could purchase as many or as few as required.

If you can read my crappy writing, this is our meal plan for the week. In order of consumption they go…

Lasagne  – I made this on Sunday night so it was ready for when I got in on Monday. It was made from leftovers, so no shopping needed.
Vegetable Chilli – I had some peppers and leftover homemade guacamole in my fridge, as well as canned tomatoes and kidney beans at home. Of the groceries above, I’ll be using onion, garlic and carrot.
Ham Quiche – This is going to use up the ham my son didn’t finish last week, as well as some eggs we already had in. Of the above, I’ll be using the flour to make the pastry.
Stir Fry – I’ll be using another of the peppers from my fridge, some spring onions I have at home, rice, and a variety of condimemts (i.e. fish sauce, sugar, five-spice, soy sauce and cornflour to make a sauce). From the pictured groceries I’ll use a chicken thigh (possibly two) and the brocoli. The rest of the chicken will go in the freezer for future recipes.
Chick pea curry – This is a favourite in our house. I’ll use a can of chick peas that I already have, plus some rice that we already have, plus some lime pickle we already have. From the above, I’ll use onion, garlic and carrot, plus some of the non-brewed condiment* for the start of a mango chutney I’ve been making.
Beurre Blanc – this is the Jack Monroe recipe, only I use spagetti and butter beans instead. The wine we use was inherrited when my inlaws died, and I tend to keep this recipe for the end of the week when the cupboards are running low. It’s a real treat to finish on.

The stuff unaccounted for includes:
Strawberries, 6 bananas, 2 passion fruits, 2 lemons, 4 apples, 1 pineapple, lots of flour, lots of butter, sausage meat, 12 bagels, 1 bar of white chocolate and the rest of the non-brewed condiment.

Plans for the rest:
We’ll just snack on the strawberries. I will carve up the pineapple, mix it with the passion fruits and one chopped apple and we’ll have this as topping for yogurt (more on that in a second) and oats as breakfast. The bagels will cover us for breakfast for 3 days. For lunch, we’ll be having a combination of things on bread, made from the flour above and fresh yeast – usually hummus and grated carrots, or some sort of egg. The sausage meat has been made into sausage rolls of Daugher’s lunch box. she’ll start the week with two of the eight I’ve made, then the rest will go in the freezer so I have some ready-made things for more rushed weeks. The chocolate is for me.

Additional:
This week’s menu is chick-pea heavy so I’ll be collecting the aqua faba to use as an egg substitute in the baking I do (some of it has already been transformed into chocolate mousse for Daughter to take to school). This way, I can use the actual eggs I have as bread topping and in the quiche. Also worth noting – this week I’ve purchased pineapple, but it’s been melon for the last few weeks and I’ve taken to drying the seeds in the oven for use in baking.

Yogurt:
I promised more information regarding the yogurt I was planning to eat this week and I will deliver, but as I’ve been typing out what’s going on there, I’ve realised that it deserves its own post… watch this space.
TLDR? I tried making yogurt from expensive glass-bottle milk…

THE PLASTIC I BROUGHT HOME

And here’s the bottom line bit… How much plastic did I bring home? There’s a film on the top of the cardboard strawberry box (not recyclable) , the meat box (PET1, curbside recyclable) with its film (not recyclable), the butter wrappers (not recyclable), and the tube the sausage meat came in (not recyclable).

As I’m sure you’ve all guessed, the animal products required the most packaging. In future, I can avoid these by taking my own tubs to the Morrisons butcher counter.

How much did it cost? The groceries from the supermarket on Monday were just under £33. The milk – the three litres I bought of it – were £3.60 in total. That makes our weekly shop £36.60. That’s not to say that we’re only eating £36.60 worth of food though – as I detailed above, a lot of what we’re eating is based on food already in our fridge.

So, is it possible to feed a family of four for a week on under £50, whilst still being low-plastic? Sadly, not from just one shop, and not without dietary changes. It also requires a lot of organisation. Husband needs to remember to make bread each day before we can have that for lunch, and I need to make things like chocolate mousse and hummus, not to mention yogurt. Hopefully the further involved we get in this lifestyle the easier it will become.

What are your top-tips for reducing plastic at the supermarket? Let me know either here, or on Twitter. ❤

__
*I use non-brewed condiment instead of vinegar because a. it’s cheaper than even the big bottles of malt vinegar, b. it comes in glass bottles when malt vinegar comes in plastic, c. the stuff they stock in Morrisons is made in Scotland so has fewer food miles in relation to me and d. I can use it for cleaning too so it’s multipurpose.