Zero Waste Shopping

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As you probably know from some of my previous posts, I try to minimise the amount of packaging we accept when we are shopping.  Fruit and vegetables are relatively easy to find loose and I buy dry goods from bulk bins in my own bags and containers.

However, some other items are a bit more of a challenge.  Today I want to share what I bought yesterday.

At the Co-op I bought brown rice from the bulk bins in one of the tulle bags I made a few years ago.

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The next stop was the local IGA where I bought salmon fillets.  I handed over this plastic container, the staff member weighed it and then added the fillets.  The sticker is on the end of the container and I remove it as soon as I get home and the residue comes off fairly easily.

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The next stop was at the vet where I needed to get some more medication for our dog.  He only started this a couple of months ago and I was given 40 tablets in a small ziplock bag.  When I needed more I took the bag back to be refilled but was unsuccessful in my attempt to reuse it and ended up with a new bag.  This time I tried something different.  I took an old tablet bottle of my own (label removed) and asked if they could use that and label it.  The receptionist checked with the vet who said it was fine to reuse.  Now that the precedent is set and it is labelled I should be able to continue to do this on a regular basis.

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Our final stop was in a relatively new shop called ‘Healthy Homewares‘.  It was interesting to browse around and I ended up buying 3 different brushes.  All are made from natural materials, unpackaged and even the labels are cardboard and tied on with natural twine.  No plastic in sight.

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I am not always this successful when making purchases but it is certainly great when you can.

Making Breakfast

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It is Saturday morning here in Australia so it was time for a slightly more leisurely breakfast than our normal weekday routine.  We leave too early to consider having breakfast before we go so I have all of the necessities in my desk and I eat breakfast at the office.

Today, however, I had to make up some more cereal as I had run out.  I eat a gluten-free diet so I make my version of muesli.

Gluten-free Muesli (bulk quantity)

3 cups pepitas
3 cups sunflower seeds2 cups dessicated coconut
1 cup flaxseed meal
2 cups almonds (chopped)
2 cups sultanas
1/4 cup powdered cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and then store in an airtight container.

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Breakfast

3 spoons of muesli
1 spoon chia seeds
1 spoon psyllium husk

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I then add 2 – 3 serves of fruit and enough water to absorb the chia and psyllium.  You could use milk or yoghurt if you wish but I choose not to have them on my cereal.  If the fruit you have is lacking in moisture or intense flavour you could also use a little fruit juice.

Today I used 2 cubes each of frozen mango puree and passionfruit pulp which were surplus from the summer as well as 1/4 of a home-grown pawpaw which was given to me yesterday.

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A truly refreshing start to the day.

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Bulk Storage

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I am very fortunate to have plenty of storage in our home – wardrobes in each bedroom, walk-in corner pantry, several large drawers in the kitchen as well as underbench cupboards plus a tall cupboard in the laundry.

As if that was not enough, I seized the opportunity to have another cupboard near the foot of the internal staircase.  This space had housed the hot water system but became vacant when we installed a solar hot water service not long after we bought the house.  Fast forward a few years and we were having renovations done to the bathroom and kitchen so I asked the cabinetmaker to create a built-in storage cupboard in the empty alcove opposite the foot of the stairs.

Today I was reminded of just how useful this space has proved to be over the years.  I took everything out and cleaned it thoroughly before sorting and re-arranging the contents.  The majority of the space houses the buckets which I use to store the bulk quantities of dry goods.  They are certainly not all full but it is great to have the opportunity to store the excess.

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When it was built the shelves were intentionally spaced to allow 2 buckets to be stacked on top of each other.  The lowest shelf is high enough to allow the camping refrigerator to be stored on the floor.

A couple of simple doors keep this all of out sight.

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It does not take a lot of space to create some really useful storage.

Bed in a Box

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I am not a huge fan of online shopping but it does have some advantages.  For example, we buy premium dog food in 15kg bags and order 2 at a time.  There is a financial saving and the added bonus that it is delivered to our front door.  Additionally, there are more and more items that are only available online.

We recently decided that it was time to consider replacing the mattress on our bed and I started searching online to see what types of mattresses were available.  I stumbled upon the Sommuto website which produces Australian made mattresses by an Australian owned company.  The catch?  There is no shop and your order online.  I have spent a couple of months reading and researching before biting the bullet and ordering it on the weekend.  T

The mattress was delivered today.

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It was quite weighty so took GMan and I to carry the box upstairs.  It was a simple matter of cutting the plastic tape and sliding the roll out of the box.

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A special cutter was provided to cut the plastic wrap.  We then lifted the roll onto the existing ensemble base and unrolled the mattress.

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It feels quite different to what we have had previously but I am very confident that we will be happy with our new purchase.  Anyway, it has a 100 day trial period with a money-back guarantee.

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For something as large as a mattress there was minimal packaging.  The cardboard box will be opened out and used as weed mat under mulch in the garden.  The plastic tape will go into the rubbish and the heavy-duty plastic has been folded up and will be sure to be used at some time in the future.

I have made the bed and now am looking forward to a relaxing sleep.

Goodnight.

Glass is Good

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I have tried, as much as possible, to reduce our use of single-use plastic.  I know that there is always more that I can do so it is a work in progress, or as some would like to say, a journey.

As with any journey, it is also easier if you are connected with like-minded travellers so I am a member of a couple of different Facebook groups whose members have similar goals.  Some people are keen to remove all plastic, however, I am not about to throw away all of the plastic containers I have (to landfill) so that I can replace them with glass.  On the other hand, I am happy to look for glass when I need some more.

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After much research, I recently purchased 2 dozen Ball preserving jars.  You can read all about them in this post.  I have used some when I made jam recently but am also looking at other ways of using them.

I am aware that some people regularly freeze food in glass but that is not something that I have really done much so I decided that some research was in order as I know several people have had problems with glass jars breaking in the freezer.  This is not a saving of resources or money so I want to avoid that happening.  It turns out that for a glass jar to be suitable for freezer use it must have straight sides – that is no shoulder where it slopes in to the neck of the jar.  The preserving jars which I chose meet this criteria and are also deemed as suitable for freezer use on the panel on the box.

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Naturally, you also need to use commonsense and not put hot jars into the freezer and leave suitable headspace for the food to expand when frozen.  I also choose to chill them first in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer as well as keeping the lids loose until they were completely frozen.  This strategy seems to have been successful.

Here are some jars of frozen mango puree and refried beans which I was about to transfer to the small freezer downstairs.  I tend to keep this freezer for storage and items which I use on a day-to-day basis in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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The other purpose for which glass can be used is when taking your own containers to be filled at the shop.  This afternoon I took one of the smaller jars to the deli counter at the supermarket and bought olives.  There was no problem with the staff weighing the container prior to filling to to assess the tare weight and the price sticker was attached to the bottom of the jar.

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Plastic containers certainly have their place and I will continue to use them rather than discard simply for the sake of discarding them, however, it is an interesting exercise to test the boundaries as to how and where glass jars can be used.

 

I Bought a Bucket

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This may seem like mindless consumption as I did already have a bucket to collect the kitchen scraps for the compost but I recently bought a new compost bucket.

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I first considered buying this over 12 months ago when I saw the one my daughter had at her place.  The thing that appealed to me about it was the drop-in lid with a silicone seal.  The following photo shows the lid  and also  the bucket insert.  It is also rather more stylish when sitting on the kitchen bench and has the added bonus of being labelled which is a help to guests who are unfamiliar with our kitchen.

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These are the 2 buckets I have used previously.  Each one is a bit larger than the new one so I will definitely need to empty it each day but that is not a great imposition.  The lid is the main problem as it takes 2 hands to seal it tightly as opposed to the drop-in lid on the new one.

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I ordered the bucket online and it arrived packaged in a cardboard box.  This had clearly been re-used which is pleasing but the downside was that it had 2 layers of plastic tape.  I managed to remove all of the tape so that I can use the cardboard as weed mat in the garden.  There was quite a pile of tape.

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In fact, the tape contributed quite a significant portion of our waste for the week.  You can see it all here.

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The rubbish for this week weighed in at 264g which is considerably more than the previous couple of weeks.  This is due in to the plastic sticky tape from the cardboard box.  There is also a selection of items, including, plastic bags from rice paper wrappers, tortillas, cheese and carrots, an expired credit card, foil packet from medications, festival wristband, bottle tops, screen cleaning cloth and plastic packaging from a computer program.

Back to the Scales

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Some years ago I weighed our rubbish each week for a period of time.  The quantity was small but I cannot even remember the approximate weights.

I have decided to make a start on this again and redouble our efforts to reduce our small amount of waste that goes to landfill even further.

This is the contents of our kitchen bin for approximately 2 weeks.

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Not all of it is identifiable but there are 2 cheese wrappers, packaging from a parcel we received, an old sponge (left by housesitters 6 months ago), a mouldy ziplock bag which was beyond being salvaged, a small mayonnaise bottle and a butter wrapper (Aldi have changed to foil wrappers – not happy so I will be voting with my feet and buying butter elsewhere in future).  The rest is mostly plastic packaging of one sort and another – mostly one off items from Christmas gifts/catering.  The silver star looks like something from a child’s toy which has been left here – so not strictly our waste but it does have to be discarded.

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Here it is – all packaged up.  I put most of the small bits compacted into the ziplock bag.  I always try to contain any small, lightweight rubbish as the last thing I want is for it to drift out of the collection truck or the landfill site and end up in a watercourse.

The next step was to put it all in the parcel post bag and weigh it.

152g or 5 and 3/8 ounces for my non-metric friends.

Once I had done this I put the rubbish in the bin, except for the post bag which I have saved for next week’s rubbish.

From now on I will weigh and post about the rubbish each Friday so that we have a weekly total for comparison.  It will vary from week to week as some things are only discarded rarely but my hope is that we will continue to generate very little waste.

Plastic is definitely the major culprit when it comes to items going to landfill.  The challenge is to look for feasible alternatives and investigate any recycling options for those items which I do not currently recycle.

Do you generate much waste?  Are you looking for ways to reduce your use of single-use plastic items?  I would love to hear your stories so that we can encourage each other.