Last week was a huge success in our zero waste journey! We found solutions in the two areas that caused most of the single use plastics that entered our household. And they’re so exciting to me that I don’t feel like doing an intro. So without further ado, here’s this week’s waste waning Wednesday!
Plastic free fruit and veg boxes
Leafy greens were an area where we could not avoid single use plastic since living in Ireland. The same was actually true when we were traveling through Denmark and Sweden during summer. In the Netherlands, we were able to find frozen spinach in card boxes in most supermarkets, but that’s not the case here.
Since winter is approaching, we’ve been able to find multiple types of cabbage at a great price. Until last week, we bought one or two savoy cabbage heads at Lidl every Saturday. Those are green and kinda leafy, so they became our leafy greens. But solely having one ‘leafy’ green to choose from became quite boring. We hence bought an additional large plastic bag of spinach each week along with the cabbage.
A varied diet is important as well, which was another reason to buy spinach along with the savoy. But the same would go for other vegetables and fruits, which were not abundant without plastic packaging either. Other products we had difficulty getting our hands on were: garlic, lime, clementines (aside from the Halloween boxes last month), grapes, berries, cucumber, courgettes, celery, and quite a few other types of fruit and veg.
Well, we found our solution! On Monday, Jordy did a Google search for something on our blog. He learned about a company called Oddbox, who sell wonky fruit and veg in the UK. That made him wonder, would there be a similar place for us to order the stuff that we have difficulty finding?
Guess what, yes there is! Green Earth Organics is an Irish farm that sells produce and delivers it in card boxes. And found their website just in time, before the cutoff of that week’s delivery. We ordered the following boxes:
- Parsnips 500g
- Leeks 500g
- Kale Green 200g
- Fennel 1pc
- Carrots 1.4kg
- Broccoli 3pc
- Tomatoes Cherry 250g
- Potatoes Sweet 450g
- Potatoes 2kg
- Pepper Red 2pc
- Garlic 2pc
- Cucumber 1pc
- Pears 400g
- Oranges 450g
- Lemon 1pc
- Mandarins 300g
- Kiwis 2pc
- Apples 950g
- Grapes 400g
- Prunes 3pc
All items are organic, and because they’re mostly grown on an Irish farm, they’re relatively local! Another thing we love about the company is the option to replace items you aren’t too keen on. Neither of us likes onion, and we had plenty of bananas. We could simply deselect these items and explain what we’d like instead. Cool? We think so!
If we ever miss a certain product, we have found a solution there, as well. Just next to Minimal Waste Grocery, there is a stall on our local market that carries a wide selection of organic package free items. We simply didn’t see it before! Aside from a variety of mushrooms and spicy peppers, we also found various leafy greens. Never before have we come across a store that sells unpacked spinach leaves and allows you to take as many as you’d like. Zero waste heaven!
We’re not always able to stop by the market on Saturdays, especially to bring such a huge amount of produce home. Hence, we will most likely keep ordering from Green Earth Organics and stop by the market for a few bits if we need them.
Because both options solely sell organic produce, they are a little pricy. But we think it is worth it. Can’t live without food, nonetheless!
Zero Waste Dog
Sustainability and dog ownership don’t particularly go hand in hand. But when owning dogs is a given (I focused my years in university on the species and wouldn’t want to live without a four legged friend), all I can do is try my hardest to minimize the impact it has on the planet.
We believe a meat based diet is the most healthy food to feed a dog. That’s why we have fed it since Mojo first joined the family. I wrote about the topic numerous times and don’t want to bore those among you who don’t own pets. I’ll refer those who do to this and that blog post for further reading. Amy, a friend of mine, recently wrote an e-book on the topic of raw diets for dogs. If you’re interested in some further reading, this is the book for you.
But no matter what you feed, most pet food is packaged in plastic or mixed material packaging. I know of a few brands of dry dog food that are offered in compostable bags, but they’re an exception in the market. Don’t (want to) feed a raw, meat based diet? Check out Lily’s Kitchen for ethically and sustainably sourced natural dog food with a relatively high meat content, in compostable packaging.
Raw dog food usually comes in plastic tubs containing 1lb of food, or plastic bags containing 1kg. We feed approximately 1kg a day, meaning we’d use 7 plastic bags or 14 plastic containers every week. All of this is single use plastic. That doesn’t feel right, at all!
We have hence been on the hunt for a balanced raw dog food that comes in compostable packaging, and it’s been a challenge. For years, I’ve liked Naturaw. They’re a UK based company that produce exactly the product I was looking for. However, they don’t ship out of England, so we couldn’t get our hands on it. After a good search, we finally found a brand that we’re able to get in Ireland; Paleo Ridge Raw.
On Wednesday, we received 6 boxes stuffed with compostable tubs of organic, species appropriate food for Mojo and Venus. The dogs’ freezer (yes, our dogs have a freezer) is now fully stocked!
I called the company we ordered the food from to ask a few details about their products. When I explained how happy I was to find a brand that sells products with sustainable packaging, the employee said I could leave the styrofoam shipping boxes out for collection when we receive our next delivery. They will be reused for future orders. Isn’t that amazing? Zero waste dog ownership with species appropriate food might just be possible!
Package free produce
We made another trip to Minimal Waste Grocery on Saturday, as usual! We noticed that people do their groceries at this bulk store in two different ways. Some people bring many (half empty) jars to top them up with the exact amount for one week. Others bring a smaller amount of larger jars to fill them completely.
We prefer to do the latter. It’s less of a hassle bringing less jars, and we just bring a jar of a particular size that we’re sure we’ll finish before the produce spoils. For some products, our containers simply aren’t large enough. That’s why you’ll find pasta in our shopping list more often.
This week, we bought the following organic produce:
- whole grain penne pasta
- whole wheat flour
- ground turmeric
Zero waste meals
Though most meals we made were zero waste, I just had to share a few as they made me intensely happy! They’re all vegan, of course 🙂
On Monday, I made tortillas by hand. It’s fairly easy – all you need is water, flour and a pinch of salt – but takes a lot of time to do! We filled them with spinach, bell pepper, courgette and roasted squash. As a sauce, I made a waste free no-cheese dip, cheesified by nutritional yeast bought package free from Minimal Waste Grocery last week. It also contained water, coconut oil, flour, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. I honestly can’t wait to bake a lasagna with this sauce on top! The only plastic used for this meal (I know, not zero waste but we’re nearly there) came from a bag of spinach which from now on, we can eliminate!
On Friday, I spent some time on YouTube and stumbled upon Niomi Smart’s new video recipe. Since it included kale, which we had delivered the day before, I couldn’t resist making it. It also called for butternut squash and chickpeas, and we still had both at home. It was yum!
Sunday morning pancake time! For months now, we haven’t bought dairy-free milk alternatives. Milk cartons, also known as Tetra pak, contain many materials. And we still don’t know whether they’re better or worse for our environment than plastic bottles. We simply avoid buying them because good for our planet, they’re certainly not. Making pancakes with water, or adding a mashed banana, is definitely an option. But having milk makes them quite a bit creamier. Jordy made this Sunday’s pancake batter with a can of low fat coconut milk combined with some water, and it worked out just the way we wanted! The pancakes were smooth and soft, but didn’t taste like coconut at all!
We topped them with a chocolate spread made from peanut butter, mashed banana, and cocoa powder. We didn’t finish the spread entirely, so we mixed some oats and water through it to enjoy later that day. ‘Overday’ oats, I guess 😉
Products we bought with plastic and general waste
This week, we bought four items that contained recyclable or non-recyclable, single use plastic. In Ireland, flimsy plastics (like foils and wrappers) are not currently recycled.
- Dried garlic in glass jar with plastic lid
- Dried rosemary in glass jar with plastic lid
- Toilet paper in plastic packaging
- Peanut butter in glass jar with plastic lid (we’re reusing the jar, usually we buy metal lid jars)
- Pine nuts in a plastic bag
The toilet paper was necessary and fully unavoidable. We bought a pack of 12 rather than 4-8 rolls as to minimize the surface area and hence the non-recyclable plastic packaging. The plastic lid on the peanut butter jar was definitely not necessary. We could’ve bought our usual Whole Earth PB but saw this cheaper one and fell for it. We won’t do that again, we can afford the others.
Dried herbs and spices are difficult for us to find, however. We can get a few of them at Minimal Waste Grocery, but certainly not all. Our favorites include garlic, smoked paprika, rosemary, chili flakes, and a good Italian herb mix. We really have to find a store where we can find a wider selection of spices and herbs! What we did find, after buying a bag of them in the supermarket, is pine nuts. Guess we won’t have to buy those in a plastic bag after all!