Today me and the two young boys went for a walk down some streets. We walked down parts of 6 streets, zig zagging the city. I took a washable reusable bag with me to collect any plastic litter. There was a lot! I filled that bag up within 25 minutes (walking slowly holding hands with the 2 year old). I did not try hard either, I needed to be careful with the boys on the sidewalk. Our streets are not very busy at all. Maybe a dozen cars drove by in that time, maybe.
Our walk took us to the nearby park. It was not wet like I thought it would be. I was expecting large puddles all over from the melting snow, but we got their on a good day! The boys swung on the swings, tried out the slide a bit. We did not stay too long as the wind was cold in the open area.
I could did not pick up any more trash on the way home. I decided the bag was full enough and the boys needed me. I felt bad walking past garbage, but a person can only do so much. At least I did some.
Later I emptied most of the trash from the bag. Lots of coffee cups and grocery bags. Lots of little broken plastic pieces too. the reusable bag got a good shake out and thrown in the wash for our next walk.
My usual first stop is Sobey’s on Friday evening. My stack of reusable grocery bags go in the cart and the side pockets hold my produce bags. First I collect the produce. Stickers get left behind on the fruit stand or I try to find the fruit without stickers, being mindful to take what I touch.
I feel great when I pick my own produce plastic free. Choose the ones I want! I usually go for the single bananas, as I think most people grab a bunch, I know I used too! Less food waste. I take some grapes out of the plastic bags and place them in my cloth bag. Usually 3 bunches worth. How lovely it would be to see naked grapes; no bags needed. Use your own bag or container (Check to see if the container can have the weight tared).
my grocery run at Sobey’s is getting smaller and smaller!
These are the main plastic packaged items we go through in a week. 3 or 4 milk cartons, as well as a usual Chocolate milk too (have enough from last week already to do us). Coffee cream, cheese, sour cream, sandwich meats, hotdogs and some berries (we cut back quite a bit on berries and this is the first pack of hotdogs in 2 weeks, those are getting a kick too). Crackers, pizza bites (One of Chris’ favourites), Vaseline is good to have on hand for minor issues, taco spice and chips. We have not found a taco spice replacement yet and chips are becoming less common and popcorn more so which is package free at Bulk Barn. Got some reusable K-Cup pods as Chris is making the switch at months end from the disposable kinds. Yay!! We won’t be replacing the Keurig machine anytime soon as it is only about 6 months old.
Potatoes, mostly plastic free (small amount of mesh for air circulation), parkay margarine squares, Lindt chocolate bars, Dr. Bonners bar soap (another experiment for my facial issues; acne/ezema/dry skin . . . I dont know). Grapes, bananas, Gala apples for Chris, cat food for Sparta (only 4 cans, usually 7 but I already had some on hand). 4 large cans of Fruitopia; no cardboard or plastic wrap, cheaper than regular size cans and cartons. Juice intake at home has been cut to one glass a day or for school (the two youngest rarely have any juice anymore). Usually there would be oranges and Granny Smith apples, but we already had some on hand. 10% cleaning vinegar was not needed this week either
Last week it dawned on me how much we have stopped buying groceries at large grocery stores. I shop the produce section heavily and skip the bakery as I make our own bread and baked goods. Sometimes, if I get to Sobey’s early enough, I will purchase some bagels from the bin for Daniel, using my cloth bag. I Skip the meat department almost all together (except sandwich meats and occasionally hotdogs). Milk products are a must in our family as well as cheese, sour cream and margarine squares. Yogurt and juice cartons are skipped. The only frozen foods we buy are french fries and occasional ice cream. Juice cans are an occasional pickup item. Next are chips and pop, but those have probably been reduced by almost half already. The middle aisles have been slimmed down to spaghetti and sauce, taco spice pack and salsa, canned soups, condiments in can or glass and chocolate bars in foil and paper only. Corn flakes and Cheerios (not sold at Bulk Barn). Cat food cans, dry cat food, cat litter in a cardboard box and cat treats in a recyclable container (not the plastic waste bag). Facial tissues in single boxes, not bulk in plastic wrap. Toilet paper and rarely paper towel. Can you believe we used to go through a double roll of paper towel a day! Unbelievable! Thank goodness for cleaning rags and cloth wipes for kids! Occasional razor blades, shaving cream and medicine as needed. No shampoo, body washes and lotions, nor menstrual pads, diapers or baby wipes. I buy extra large blue bags, which at this point, a box of 12 should last us about 9 months. Compost bags in bulk amount, 125. Our compost waste has slimmed down to about a bag every two days. So again, that box should last us 9 months+.
I do buy extra large garbage bags to fit the waste cart outside. No more bags in the house. But, since I am buying our meat package free, I do not necessarily need those bags in the cart. (Meat packages would go to the cart after use so our indoor waste would not get smelly within a day. We empty our household waste every 16 days or so). So those extra large bags will actually last a long time. I estimate 8-10 weeks to fill one. I may stop using these bags, for now, and store our indoor waste in a smaller bin lined with chip bags, cereal bags, French true bags etc . . . I believe plastic waste needs to be contained so it does not get lost by wind, dumping, handling and such. If it is contained it can be disposed of properly without littering our communities, parks, trails, beaches, rivers, lakes and oceans.
When out for a walk, camping exploring . . . bring your garbage home. Do not depend on the public trash cans to dispose of your trash for you. Most likely, bins that are labeled for sorting compost and waste, get thrown out together. If animals or the wind knock these bins over, that loose trash gets spread all over the place. Best dispose of it where you know it will be properly taken cared of, at home. I will be carrying a cloth bag with handles to pick up trash this year on my walks. Not depending on plastic grocery bags and the cloth bag can be washed once emptied over and over!
Pleasant Pork has many great options! Today I picked up 2 lbs bacon, 6 slices of back bacon to try (Chris’ request), kolbassa sausage and some other sausage that I can not remember the name of. Oh dear!
I brought our empty egg carton back and got a dozen more local eggs. Spot on!
The Farmer’s Wife has a great selection of soaps. I bought a small jug of her laundry soap to try. The best part besides made locally is that she will take the empty container back for reuse and you get a small discount for doing do! Very encouraging! I picked up some more bar soap too. No packaging!
Clohossey Farm’s had some mini red potatoes waiting for me plastic free upon my request online the night before. They are so accomodating! They have a table set up with produce package free. I picked up a bundle of carrots (bundled with an elastic band which I will return) and a single turnip.
Brady’s Farm had their last day with apples until the coming season. 1 bag purchased. Will be patiently waiting for August to come with fresh apples again.
I stopped by Inspire Essential Oil Heatable Bags to let the lady know our popcorn bag was working much better with the smaller popcorn kernels. I was using a jumbo kind and they were taking too long to pop in the microwave resulting in nearly burnt popcorn. I now buy the gourmet white popcorn at Bulk Barn. 3 minutes and 45 seconds in the microwave with 1/4 or 1/3 cup popcorn kernels. Remove the popped popcorn and microwave the seeds again for 3 minutes. Remove the popped popcorn and repeat another time. This will get you the most popcorn. When using a popcorn machine, the already popped popcorn is blown out of the machine to allow the other kernels to pop and not get burned. Though the microwave method my take longer, I do not need to keep the bulky machine. The bag is easy to clean as well; just put it in the wash! My only concern is that after 2 times in the microwave, the bag gets really hot. If I need to make a bug batch of popcorn, then it may be worth while to have 2 of these bags. It would still take less room to store and just as easy to clean.
Next stop, Bulk Barn!
I did not need to pick up very much here. We have lots of nuts and cereal on hand as well as baking supplies. So this week consisted on refilling our chocolate stash (we love chocolates!), parmesan cheese, coffee, peanut butter, honey roasted peanuts, hazelnuts, pretzels and trying out 2 kinds of granola. I am having a problem with trying to make all my own recipes, granola one of them. I have not had time to make granola and I don’t think I have the time. So, Bulk Barn has it available to me, different kinds too, so I should take advantage of it! A good reminder that not all things need to be made by you to cut out waste. Look at your options.
A stop at Superstore as I know I can get broccoli there package free. I don’t understand why Sobey’s broccoli is wrapped in plastic and Superstores’ is not. I talked to the deli meat department manager about using my own containers for deli meat. I expressed that I did not want the packaging and that the department does not even have to handle my container. I can hold it while they load it! Also, I mentioned that maybe they could use butcher paper instead of the plastic to handle the deli meat as they weigh it. The manager was really interested in what I had to say, and agreed that it would be great if we could use our containers. But, she needs permission from above her to do so, and asked me to call her on Monday-Wednesday to hear about an answer. Fingers crossed!
I also purchase here Down East laundry soap and Nature Clean dishwasher detergent. Also Oxygen Bleach by Nature Clean.
Last stop was The Summerside Butcher Shop. I had called in the morning and gave my order and asked for it to be wrapped in paper. 2 whole chickens, 4 chicken breasts and 1 lb of lean Hamburg. I had asked about the lining in the butcher paper, but the employees did not really know what it was. I will have to call and ask the manager another time.
Another tip I came up with is this:
When I leave the stickers off my produce and come to the cashier, sometimes it’s a new person who does not know the number. Sometimes there is a line-up behind me and the cashier is trying to be as efficient as can be, but there is no number on the produce I have chosen. I slow down the line, make it awkward, force the cashier to learn the numbers faster, which is good. So I take one of those stickers and stick it to my wallet! That way I have the number on hand at the cash! Those produce numbers are a universal number for that specific food item. So far I only have 2. My collection should have about 8 stickers.
I also carry with me a water bottle. There are no fountains to get a drink when I’m thirsty and I do not want to be dehydrated shopping. I did that a while ago and it sucked!
As you can see, with a bit of effort, many items are package free! Speak up and ask, change stores if need be! I am not travelling very far either. All these stores are not very far apart. Living in town has good opportunities to live with less waste. When living in rural areas, one should make an appointment trip once a week with a list handy of the stops needed and products. Planning ahead is best and also a great way to avoid spending on other products not essentially needed or wanted in the first place.
4 squares of Margarine (I use Parkay)
1/4 cup of Olive Oil
I wanted to stop buying the tubs of Becel. But keeping the plastic free Parkay squares in the fridge meant it was not going to be soft to spread on bread or toast. I don’t want to keep butter on the counter, I like keeping it clear if I can. I never really did butter out of the fridge myself either. I think if it is kept in the fridge it will last longer. A friend on the Waves of Change group on Facebook, shared what she does.
I don’t like real butter. I did not grow up with real butter, that I can remember. I don’t like the smell or the taste. So margarine is my go to. Parkay brand to be specific (Becel for spreadable), for plastic free squares. They are wrapped in paper only and boxed. It is cheaper as well, comparing to other brands.
What I do is take 4 squares (2 cups) and let it come to room temperature completely. It will blend smoothly if so! I let mine sit on the cupboard overnight. Next I put it in my Kitchen Aid mixer (any mixing tool will do) and add 1/4 cup ov Olive Oil. Mix until well blended and store in your own container. I kept using the Becel dish, reuse! It stays in the fridge and is quite managable for spreding. If you want it softer, add more Olive Oil, maybe 1/3 cup.
Any oil will work, I chose Olive Oil as it comes in glass.
This is basically for Thomas. Other kids rooms need a change over too!
One box of toys (babyish) gone to the attic. Half a box for donations.
I brought down some paper books for Thomas (as a test) to help declutter the mountain Jack and Julia have. Hoping he is out of the stage of ripping books. He is getting better all the time! Every time we let him do things like his older siblings, its an achievement for us to not have everything baby proof!
Its been a strange week. Busy I guess. Time was not on my side for supper plans tonight, so we ended up eating out. This time KFC.
We do not usually order any of the side salads. No one really likes them so they end up wasted. Instead I order gravy, as one medium dish is not enough for our large family.
When I decided to get KFC, I immediately thought about the gravy packaging. Plastic, as well as the cover. I picked up the phone and spoke to the manager at KFC. I asked if I could bring my own containers for the gravy as our family is cutting out plastic waste at home. To my surprise the answer was yes! Though, they had to use one of the plastic bowls to measure the amount of gravy to put into my dish, “company policy”. I thought one plastic bowl wasted is better than 2 or 3 bowls and lids.
Once again, we had a waste free take out meal at home!
Today, on March 14th, we celebrated Pi day; 3.14159265359.
We celebrate by having pie. A family tradition. One of my husband’s favourite day of the year. 3rd month, 14th day. My husband is a wizard at math. He is a computer programmer and deals with numbers all day. He always makes fun by comparing birthdates and ages with number configurations.
Today, out of the blue, at 3;14 pm, he calls down the stairs from his office, “Happy Pi day”. Lol!! Never a dull day!
I made my first trip to our local Summerside Butcher Shop for unpackaged meat! Kevin, the manager, allowed me to purchase meat products with my own containers! I was over joyed!
Though, he would appreciate the meat wrapped in butcher paper rather than my own containers. He does not want to risk my containers contaminating their area for food health reasons. I certainly do not want to cause any problems. The fact that they are willing to use butcher paper alone suits my needs to not have plastic wrapped products. A win win in my eyes.
I can call to place my order before I go to the shop and they will have it ready for pickup. Super easy and they are accomodating me with the days I have available. Weeks ago, when I spoke with Kevin, he gave me permission to use my own containers, but I had to go on certain days (Monday or Tuesday) as they are busy with their own orders. Well, those days did not work for me. Either I had no vehicle, or the other day just did not give me time. I was not too keen on taking the other kids either (I don’t know why I thought it would be difficult, it was not!!). Today while I was talking to Kevin, I expressed that Saturday would be much better for me to pick up supplies, as that is my grocery day anyways. I would be in the area too. He agreed to any day, what ever helped me.
He told me another lady started ordering her products just in butcher paper too. Snowball effect!!! Also, they are trying to find a compostable material to use instead of the Styrofoam trays. They have been experimenting trying other products. Yeah!!!!
I need to find a container that will house a whole chicken. And fit in the fridge. We always have a roast chicken diner on Sunday. I don’t really want to make a special trip in on Sunday, but we are only 5 minutes away. If I did pick up that day, there would be no need for re-fridgeration if I timed it right. Food for thought.
Got my meat plastic free at The Summerside Butcher Shop. Though, the paper is lined, I don’t know by what, I will investigate. But, it is much better than the Styrofoam trays and less plastic (if the lining is plastic) than the cling wrap normally used on packages. I will continue this path with The Summerside Butcher Shop.
As for the butcher paper at the Farmer’s Market, there is no lining on the paper!
Chocolate pudding!! I stopped buying the kids pudding packs a long time ago, used to buy the packaged powder kind you add milk to, but not often. Definitely not since our zero waste lifestyle.
I bought some gelatin at Bulk Barn, thinking I would make pudding and jello, and what ever other treats. Behold . . . You don’t need gelatin to make pudding! Nope. The recipe I used is just 7 ingredients you probably have at home! Here is the link!
This recipe would be perfect for chocolate pies too. Just like my nanny used to make. With whipping cream on top. Oh, mouth watering!!!!
No one should have to go buy a package of pudding anymore!!! For school treat size portions, mix up a batch, and pour into the kids containers to take in their lunch can. Portioned and ready to go! It would be easy to even cut the recipe in half.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract”
I recommend small servings. This pudding is excellent, but rich!
Fast food restaurants create a lot of waste. Cups, lids, straws, juice and milk bottles, toys and all the packaging that goes with them. Lets not forget about the organic waste associated as well, all the box board for the kids meals. Those are still resources being used and energy needed to create them.
Our family chooses McDonald’s for our choice to fast food. Chris and I like the other restaurants as well, but the kids really enjoy McDonald’s. I know eating at these fast food restaurants leaves a lot to be desired. We do not eat out very often. maybe once a month or two at most. Kind of the last resort for me if I have no time to make supper, or am disposed for what ever reason, which is rare. When I say “eat out”, I mean bring home. We do not go out to eat with everybody, yet. Special occasion if we do.
I despise the kids meal toys!! So much packaging. I always thought before that at least the packaging for the toys was recyclable, until we started zero waste. plastic is plastic no matter if it is recyclable or not. The toys, oh my. they get used the first day, maybe the second. It is rare for a toy to be continually played with for many days. They take up space on the shelf, scattered on the floor, always picking them up or finding them lost under the couch. Filling bedrooms with more non-sense junk. They always seem to be in the way of the actual toys that get played with. They are not a learning activity, that is for sure. No real purpose. Just another item to get tossed, lost, or put in the attic. Possibly donated. We have 5 kids. That is a lot of these toys and packaging. 99% of the time, all the toys are the same character too. Frustrating more so. I know there is a book option available too, I tried that once and got 4 of the same book . . . yup.
A while ago, while placing our order at the self order booth, I was trying to figure out if I could order the kids meals without the drinks. I knew we could order no toy. I learned we can order no yogurt tube. Yay! What about the plastic cups, lids and straws. I wanted to avoid that too. We have our own drinks at home anyways. But there was no option to refuse the drink without having to pay for it.
The kids were awesome at not accepting a toy or yogurt tube with their kids meals. We were surprised! Not a big deal! Its becoming the new normal, as I am learning lots of changes are becoming the new normal. Daniel already grew out of the toys, was no longer interested as well as the yogurt tube. Thomas was just beginning to get his own kids meals, so not a whole lot he knows he is missing out on. Its a good thing.
Our order consisted of:
Chris- Double Big Mac, Med fries and a Med Root Beer
Rachel- Double Quarter Pounder, Med fries and a Med Coke
Daniel- Kids meal chicken nuggets with pop
Alaina- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
Julia- Kids meal Hamburger with ch. milk
Jack- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
Thomas- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
6 pack chicken nuggets
This totals to about $53.00 (we do not eat out very often)!
Normally I take a reusable grocery bag, which allows me to fit the kids meal boxes in and 3 ch. milk bottles, 1 drink tray with 4 drinks and a paper bag. Lets just say, my arms are full.
So the last time we ate out, Chris and I came up with a plan. No more kids meals. No more drinks. Stop the waste at the source.
How to eat at McDonald’s waste free
#1. Decide what you want before you go
#2. Purchase items for the family, not individual meals
#3. No drink
Our newest order consisted of:
1 Double Big Mac Burger
1 Quarter Pounder Burger
2 Hamburgers (Alaina was going to try one)
20 chicken nugget pack
3 large fries
This totaled to about $43.00!
I was floored. I did not know if this order was going to be cheaper.
So many positive notes:
#1. $10.00 cheaper
#2. No plastic
#3. Less paper waste
#4. Less food waste
#5. Quicker time between ordering and picking up for home (I would say I waited 1/4 of the time I normally did)
#6. Number 5 means the food is more hot when ready to eat.
#7. Less to carry (2 paper bags worth)
#8. Quick clean up after supper
Reducing waste can happen at home, proper restaurants, planned parties, travels and fast food restaurants (among other places). Use the same tool you apply for zero waste achievements and look outside the box.
My Saturday morning routine starts at the Farmer’s Market. I don’t have any pictures but maybe next week I can bring my tablet to take some. Off the vendors allow their pictures taken. I am a visual person, I would live to show what I get and from who.
Today, Clohossey Farms had a separate table featuring 2 lb carrots bundled by an elastic, loose potatoes and loose onions! Each in their own basket, for sale individually. I was so happy to see that!!
I bought more apples from Brady’s Farm, and returned an egg carton to the vendor selling local eggs. I am bad with names!
I started, this weekend, to purchase our bacon plastic free from Pleasant Pork. Also a kolbalssa sausage for Chris. No more plastic wraps. Yay!! Bacon is more pricey, $8.00 per lb and kolbalssa $10.00 per lb (I bought $3.00 worth). But, its local, does not travel a long distance, and plastic free.
My Farmers market bag. Consists of the sturdy jute bag itself, an extra reusable grocery bag just in case, 4 produce cloth bags, a pencil and paper, 2 paper bags (for soap bars will be reused over and over), my money pouch, water bottle, bar soap and hand towel and any empty egg cartons go in here to be dropped off asap to the egg vendor. I want to find a long container to use for the bacon. Will start looking for options. I will start brining my own utensils as well incase I end up eating some amazing foods! Me and Alaina had a crepe the other weekend and we got caught up into using plastic forks and knife. I was not pleased. They suck! Also, if I have time, take a break and have a coffee. Take my own mug and spoon and see if the coffee stand will accommodate my request and maybe plant a seed or two. Who knows who may be around to talk to as well!