Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No plastic packaging challenge - six months in

It's now half way through the year (yes! already!) so I thought this would be a good time to give an update about my pledge of going a year without plastic food packaging.

One of the best parts of the week - our veggie box arrives!
To quickly recap, I wanted to cut down the amount of landfill I was generating just by eating food that comes in plastic packaging.  One day late last year I had scoffed down a quick takeaway lunch (as you do) and was about to throw the plastic container in the bin when it occurred to me that that plastic container, which took a heck of a lot of resources to produce and which would be around for eons to come, was actually used for about 10 minutes.

Image from here
So how am I going with my challenge?  Generally I would say pretty good.  It certainly helps that we are members of a veggie co-op so a large amount of our food is bought in bulk (in cardboard boxes) and shared between a number of households.  We also have a refill co-op shop (the kind where you fill up your own containers with grains, pastas etc) close by, which also helps.

We take our own reuseable bags and containers with us everywhere, which can be a pain, but it's easy to be caught out.  We've found we have to be hyper-aware when we are shopping, because food manufacturers will sneakily use lots more packaging than needed, and it's common to find plastic wrapping inside a cardboard box when it is totally unnecessary.

Things we are doing differently:
- Eating butter instead of margarine
- Baking our own bread
- Making our own yoghurt
- Buying other dairy in glass containers or other packaging
- Taking our own containers when we get takeaway meals (some restaurants will look at us funny, but they will still fill them up for us)
- Asking for my takeaway sushi in paper bag and refusing the little plastic soy sauce fish
- Having a go at making our own whenever possible - pizza bases, pastry... whatever else - we'll give it a try!

Elgaar dairy comes in glass containers, and you get a refund when you return them

Food that I miss:
- Marshmallows
- Packets of chips (crisps)
- Mexican burrito and tortilla wraps - I tried making my own, but haven't really got the hang of it yet
- Puff pastry

We're not perfect and there are still small bits of plastic packaging that sneak into our house, and I've mentioned before that travelling for work makes the pledge extra tricky (especially aeroplane meals!).  But we're definitely reducing the amount of landfill that comes out of our house, and as long as we continue to be aware of packaging and try to reduce it, I think that's the main thing.


  1. That's incredible Britt. It's amazing when you think about the amount of plastic there is in SO many food items.

  2. woo hoo good on you! what a great job you are doing!
    go elgaar dairy too. we use their milk in our cafe (the milk is produced a half hour away from us here in Launceston) and if feels soooo good that our bins don't fill up every day just with plastic milk bottles.

  3. Well done! It can be quite difficult to change habits especially when you're in a hurry...I haven't found a UK yoghurt in glass jars/bottles yet so keep aiming to start making my own...just haven't quite got round to it yet but your post has inspired me to have a go!

  4. Hey why are you missing marshmallows?.. They are lots of mixing effort but not hard to make... kind of like toffee with gelatine and air. Also making chips (crisps) is so easy... heat up oil (olive oil for me - don't let it smoke and it can be used safely 10 or more times. Peel potato skin (or just wash well) and use the peeler to just peel the potato away ... fry up and CHIPS! I'm just an irregular stalker so maybe I've missed something about why marshmallows and chips are not easy - so apologies if that's the case.

  5. Ooh thanks summer, I've never tried homemade marshmallows or chips but you've made them both sound easy - and I'm all up for experimenting in the kitchen!

  6. Wow that poster is an eye opener, not that I use plastic cutlery that often but still I will think about it more often. Great post!