Life in Bloom: June Plastic Total

June passed by in a rainy blur, ushering in summer so fast it feels like winter never happened. The plastic pile in our crawl space grows, and it turns out a month of plastic for the two of us and Titan (dog) fits quite perfect inside a 25 lb dogfood bag.  Per usual, mostly film… bread bags, food wraps… a couple Tetrapaks, a couple bags of chips, some old toothbrushes, lids, inevitably a couple sneaky straws.  As the year goes on, we seem to have hit a plateau.  The pile is not alarming or troublesome by American standards.  No water or soda bottles.  No produce bags.  No processed food.  Yet, we cannot seem to reduce in the past couple months.  Partially it is a symptom of where we live.  Bulk isles are hard to come by.  So is a fresh bread source (there are a couple, but they are 30 min away!)  Local businesses are taken over by larger corporations.  Without local businesses, we sometimes have to buy online, and end up with bulky plastic packaging as a result.  Out culture does not support a life with reduced plastic.

One thing that we LOVE about summer is the supply of fresh produce.  This year we are receiving weekly drop offs from an organic CSA, supplemented with a bounty from our own home garden.  This year we grew our whole garden from seed; here is a snapshot of how it is coming along!

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Beautiful Eggplant :O)

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You can see scallions on the left, kale on the right, and tomatoes in the back, yum!

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Scallion :O)

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Broccoli on the patioIMG_6048

This might be my proudest sproutling, I cannot believe this was just a seed a few short months ago!IMG_6045

Patio carrots = genius!!!IMG_6052

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A Day in the Life of a Plastiphobe :OD

No place is more plasticized that the supermarket.  These days everything seems shrink-wrapped, encased, prepared, and packaged.  Over the past couple years Brandon and I have created and adopted many ways to reduce our plastic waste.  Today, on my early morning trip to Whole Foods, I thought I would take you along with me, and show you what we do to keep plastic our of our kitchen.

Here is what came home with me today:

We are what we eat: healthy!

We are what we eat: healthy!

Yum! (and if you look closely in the back you can see Shadow’s fuzzy face wondering what the heck I’m doing)

Here are my rules for shopping:

1. BYOB: Bring your own bags!  This includes produce bags folks.  I have been known to pass up produce because I ran out of bags, or stuff multiple veggies into the same bag to avoid waste.  I also always  go back to my car when I forget my bags in it.  No excuses!  With a little planning you can train yourself to remember.  (See our week 1 post for websites that sell reusable produce bags)

2. Plan ahead.  Going to the grocery store with a plan of what to make for the week can result in a lot less food waste.  This week’s bounty will become:

-Bulgar, arugula, and cannellini salad.
-Baked wild-caught Alaskan salmon with cornmeal-masala roasted brussels sprouts.
-Chickpea cutlets.
-Spicy peanut and eggplant soup.
-Parsnip chips.
-Cauliflower and mushroom pot pie with kalamata olive crust.
-Almond quinoa muffins with currants.
-Fresh carrot juice.
-Vegan jelly donut cupcakes.

Of course, there are bound to be impulse items. For example: how could you resist these beets?? Seriously, they might be the sexiest beets I’ve ever seen!

3. Avoid anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.  As you can probably tell from the photo above, we make most of what we eat from scratch.  It helps that both of us love to spend time in the kitchen.  In fact, cooking together is one of our favorite ways to spend our evenings.  Our love of food and cooking not only brings joy to our lives, it also has given us more energy and stronger, healthier bodies.  As they say, you are what you eat.  We are not high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, dextrin, and yellow #5.  No!  We are carrots, mushrooms, arugula, and tomatoes!!!

4. Buy local whenever possible.  Local food supports your neighbors rather than big corporations.  Local food reduces your carbon footprint by avoiding the massive amounts of fuel necessary to ship food around the country (and sometimes globe).  It doesn’t get more local than your own garden.  We are so excited to set our seedlings in the coming months!  Another thing I am excited about = farmers markets!  This year we might not need them since we just bought a small CSA share from Rustic Roots Farm.  We will be getting fresh, organic produce delivered to my workplace for about 4 months!  Never heard of CSAs before? Read this!

5. Buy organic whenever possible.  Organic foods are better for the environment because they avoid chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.  Organic foods are better for your body because they are grown from healthy soils and contain appreciatively higher levels of antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamins than their conventionally grown counterparts.

Here are some tips to avoid plastic:

1. PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE! Nuff said.

2. Use the bulk isle!  This week I bought peanuts and dried garbanzo beans using my homemade produce bags.  You can also use your own container, like a mason jar, and they can weigh it for you before you shop and tare it when you check out.

3. Whole foods has a great butcher/seafood station that will also allow you to use your own container.  If you lack a container they wrap the meat in paper with a small plastic lining, which in my mind is much better than the foam plate-shrink wrap combo around conventional meat.  Their seafood counter is committed to selling only sustainable seafood, although NPR recently did a 3 part series questioning the validity of sustainable fisheries that is worth a listen.  The butcher provides a rating system to let you know how the animals were raised and treated.  All in all, it seems like a better way to buy meat.

Is our refrigerator truly plastic free?

Nope.  But it’s better than average!  Most of our condiments are in jars, but all those pesky lids are plastic.  I broke down this week and bought almond milk, but we get all of our juice in glass jars or we just make it ourself with our juicer (best kitchen appliance I ever bought!).  You can revisit our previous post for my recipe for hommeade soy milk, it’s so easy I am kicking myself for buying the almond milk this week!  We always leave shelf space for some good bottled beer, supporting microbreweries and avoiding the plastic lining in cans.  We store our leftovers in mason jars and glass Tupperware.  The cauliflower was our only plasticized produce this week.  Can’t seem to get the dang vegetable without it!  Sigh.  The most obvious pieces of plastic this week housed the garbanzo flour and almond meal that I bought for baking.  There was no other way… Our freezer is largely unused besides some frozen fruit, ice racks (I am saving up for some stainless steel ones as I type) and a bag of corn that has been used to ice sore joints and muscles for years.

So there you have it!  A shopping trip in true Plastiphobian style!  If you want to learn more about healthy food choices and great recipes here are my favorite resources:

Anything by Michael Pollen (The Omnivores Dilemma, In Defense of Food).  This man’s writing changed my life is so many wonderful ways.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. (It is also a movie if you are not into the whole reading thing)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

-Anything, and I mean ANYTHING by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World).  She also has some recipes available online at the Post Punk Kitchen.

-Any cookbook with Molly Katzen’s name on it (The new Moosewood Cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health, etc).  You can browse some online recipes here.