What started off feeling as a slow and unsuccessful week ended being incredibly satisfying! But before we share this week’s zero waste diary, we’re sharing an intriguing observation we made on Monday.
A man was drinking a bottle of Coca Cola on the platform. When his train arrived, he flung the half-full bottle of coke in the bushes behind him and got on. Where we actively think about waste limitation and act accordingly (most of the time), this man had not a care in the world. Where we choose to drink water, indulging with an aluminum can of soda every once in a while, this man took his plastic bottle of coca cola for granted.
Probably, the thought of this bottle lasting another 1000 years at the least did not cross his mind. Perhaps he doesn’t know.
But instead of commenting on this behavior we just talked about it together. We don’t force our ways on others, but instead choose to share our insights online (and with our friends and family) hoping to inspire some open-minded people along the way.
Would you ever approach someone for littering the environment? Do you think it’ll have a great result, or might you come across like a know-it-all?
Zero Waste shopping in Dublin
We usually work on weekdays, but occasionally we get a day off if we work on the weekends. This was the case on Tuesday. Dublin city center is usually packed on the weekends, so we decided to wait for this free Tuesday to explore some bulk stores and markets in the center. After a long hike on Bull Island (which is basically our backyard) with our dogs, we took the train into town.
We were most excited to visit the Dublin Food Co-op in the west of Dublin, but sadly, it was closed. Instead, we explored several other stores and markets in the centre.
There were two specific items we insisted on buying that day: thick spaghetti (with a name we of course do not remember) and hard Italian cheese. All whole food stores we entered offered great ranges of wholemeal pastas and many healthy whole foods. Everything however, was packaged in plastic, so we had no luck scoring any pasta there. Cheese stores were impossible to find on our phone, so we’ll do a good search for those before we head back next time. After strolling through town for 2.5 hours and not having found either of the two items we were looking for without (plastic) packaging material, we decided to head home.
Walking home from the train we were talking about our much anticipated dinner and we popped into the local Supervalu to buy parmesan and spaghetti, both packaged in plastic. We could have easily used a different pasta that we still had at home, but decided not to. It might sound incredibly selfish, but we don’t want to let our switch to a new lifestyle bring our moods down.
We were craving a cheesy pasta for weeks. When we finally decided to take effort (4 hours in total plus €8 spent on transportation costs) to find the products package free, we were let down. We didn’t want to be sad, so we treated ourselves. That’s how we keep going, by occasionally turning off the switch.
Cheese?! Yes. Though most meals we eat are vegan, we still eat cheese from time to time. That’s probably because we’re from the Netherlands where cheese is a real staple. However, we now rarely eat it because it is usually packaged in plastic.
Bring your own jars
The weekend was luckily better, much better! We live near St. Anne’s park, a massive park that hosts a market every Saturday. We usually take our dogs to the park, and hadn’t taken a close look at the stalls just yet. This time, after another long hike on Bull Island, we let our dogs cuddle up on the sofa and visited the park without them.
There is one stall on this market in particular that we’ve been dying to visit. Minimal waste grocery is a market stand / online store that offers dried goods in bulk. It’s basically your average small bulk store, but with a twist! You can order online in paper bags and have your items delivered personally one evening a week. If preferred, they can take your own clean glass jars back to fill up next time. Every week, you can exchange your empty jars for the ones they topped off; just like milk bottles in the old days!
We won’t use these delivery services, as we live a 10 minute stroll away from the market. They’re very cool and original though, and we have not seen anything similar before!
The stall is run by two people, a young man and woman, both working hard helping one customer at a time. The tent was approximately 3 meters wide and just as long. Tables ran along the three walls. Each table neatly filled with large glass jars and tall plastic containers. It looked like a miniature bulk store, but they had everything we were looking for.
We ended up buying the following things:
- Popcorn kernels
- Redmond (bentonite) clay
- Short grain brown rice
- Risotto rice
- Engevita nutritional yeast
- Whole grain penne
- Wooden dish brush replacement head
We loved this small ‘store’ and will be back soon. It’s time to stock up on some dried herbs and spices, so we might visit them again this Saturday!
Fruits and veggies
The fresh produce for sale on this market turned out to be incredibly expensive, so we decided to take our van to the nearest Dunnes store to do our weekly grocery shopping. We usually visit Lidl for fruits and vegetables, and canned items, and immediately remembered why. We could solely find one type of apple and some clementines without plastic. Quite swiftly, we returned our trolley and headed to Tesco’s, and had a bit more luck there. Still, the amount of fresh food without packaging was limited.
As you can see, our fridge looks quite colorful, but some of these items we bought on Sunday after popping into our local Supervalu again. There, we found carrots, courgettes (you may call them zucchinis), and a massive butternut squash. This means we have three pumpkins to eat still. But as you might have read last week, we love them!
Quite a different topic that influenced our weekly shopping trip was our health. Marijke has a skin issue (which she’ll talk about in the future) that has been bothering her quite a lot lately. It’s time for a boost in antioxidants in her diet, so we hoped to find some berries. The market stalls didn’t have any, but we found 4 large trays of blueberries that were on sale as they’d expire the next day. They were packaged in plastic, of course, but we decided to take one.
It saved us quite some money, but it also potentially saved both the berries and plastic going to landfill. It was late in the afternoon already, and the berries were in a place that wouldn’t really catch your eye. The chance of all four large trays ending up in someone’s trolley that day were slim. We could have skipped the berries to limit our own plastic consumption. But chances are that they’d be discarded by the end of day, after all.
Day in the kitchen
Aside from making some delicious meals, we spent quite some time in the kitchen on Sunday. Using some berries, Marijke made a delicious chia jam to stir through our oat breakfast.
Meanwhile, Jordy used one of the items bought in bulk to make a zero waste toothpaste. He mixed bentonite clay, coconut oil, baking powder, water, and spearmint essential oil to form a soft minty toothpaste. We’ve tried it a few times since and are incredibly impressed! It’s not foamy like you might be used to, and it’s a little less fresh, but it’s good! Jordy initially said: ‘If it’s tolerable, I’m fine with it.’ Even without an added sweetener, this toothpaste is much more than just tolerable, it’s quite delicious, soft, and leaves our mouths feeling squeaky clean! We probably don’t notice the slightly salty taste because we’ve been using toothpaste from Lush the past months, which is quite salty itself and not that sweet.
Afterwards, we had a first go at fermenting in an attempt to create sauerkraut. Jordy cut up a cabbage to thin strips and massaged it with salt. He let it sit for a while for a natural brine to form. He added garlic, yellow mustard seed and caraway, massaged it again, and let it sit once more. We washed a large glass jar and sterilized it in the oven. Jordy compressed the cabbage in the glass container with a large savoy cabbage leaf. This will ensure that the cabbage strips are completely covered in brine, and will ferment in an anaerobic atmosphere. Hopefully, we’ll have a lovely sauerkraut in about two weeks. You’ll hear about the progress next Wednesday! 😉