Plastic Free July is underway, we are tackling plastic from all angles, Want to Make Your Fridge Plastic-Free? Here’s How!
In 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada put out a call to innovators to create more sustainable food packaging because “Research shows that food packaging waste comprises approximately one-third of all Canadian household waste, and only 20% is recovered for reuse and recycling”.
The TINY proportion of our waste that actually gets recycled makes me want to find ways to adapt our own household behaviours. The government request for innovation goes on to note how problematic ‘flexible pouches, wraps and bags’ are for recycling, which I’m assuming is brand-free code for ‘ziplocks, saran wrap and produce bags’. Honestly, these items can easily be reduced, and even eliminated!
- Farmers Market First
Make a point of going to your local farmers market with a meal plan before the commercial grocery store. Farmers Markets often can have less packaging for produce, making it easy to get what you need in season and without plastics.
- Pack the Reusables
Reusable bags are oh-so-bomb. Yes, if you forget them, it’s inconvenient. But I have the ultimate solution: forget your bags, inconveniently stash everything in your pockets/purse/hood, struggle on home, laugh at yourself by watching this grocery bag sketch. You’ll never forget your bags again!
My favourite discovery of all time is reusable produce bags that are mesh, seal with a drawstring, and are stretchy. Unfortunately, the stretch is because they’re made of polyester, which contains micro-plastics and isn’t doing us -nor the environment- any good. This doesn’t mean I will be getting rid of my produce bags: I already own them, and it would be wasteful to throw them out to sit in a landfill. However, if you don’t have produce bags, consider a Canadian company like Credobags, since their bags are made of organic cotton, and also mesh without the stretch.
- If you eat meat, source it en masse.
First, did you catch the “if?” Recent research shows that worldwide, we need to ease up on meat and sugar consumption. The Planetary Health Diet is an eating plan that is healthy and comes from sustainable food systems– determined based on research from 37 scientists around the world. Shifting towards a plate that is half fruits/veggies and half plant proteins, oils, and whole grains have an added benefit that packaging can be simplified: vegetables and fruit come in peels, and plant proteins like lentils can oftentimes be purchased in bulk.
If/When you do eat meat, learn the differences between buzz words like ‘cage-free’, ‘natural’ and ‘grass-fed’ vs. ‘grain fed’. To avoid plastic meat packaging, find a stainless steel container which can be tared at a butcher shop, and purchase in larger quantities if it is a trip that’s not in your regular grocery shopping routine.
- Store Veggies Without Plastic
Nature gave fruits and veggies peels for a reason: they can live in the nude!
My Plastic Free Life has a comprehensive guide to storing veggies both in and outside your fridge, but here are a few plastic free options to get you started:
- Put herbs in a mason jar:
- Trim the stems
- Pour in just enough water to cover the first inch or two of the stems
- Close the lid.
- I like to rinse the herbs after I pick them from the jar, but you can salad spin them prior.
Exceptions: Thyme, oregano, ginger: these can be put in a paper bag in the crisper.
- If you’ve got half a lemon, or need to cover a bowl, replace saran wrap with beeswax
Wax wraps like Abeego are made of beeswax, tree resin, jojoba oil, and integrated into organic cotton and hemp cloth. It’s adhesive, reusable and can wrap around anything that likes to keep breathing (i.e. all our fresh food!). These wraps last approximately 1 year, then biodegrade, compost or can be used as a firestarter: they are made of wax, after all!
- Yes- Freeze jars!
We know that mason jars can make great takeout containers, coffee mugs, pantry storage, fridge-savers (see #5!), but have you ever considered freezing food in them? Yes, you can!
When you fill the jar, leave at least 3 cms, since freezing causes liquid to take more space.
Enjoy the bounty of benefits:
- Avoid chemicals like BPA, PVC, and phthalates by switching to glass
- Easy to collect glass jars from other purchases (i.e. pickles, salsa)
- Glass doesn’t absorb flavours, so easy to maintain and keep clean in between uses
- Most importantly, going from fridge to freezer when you know you can’t finish all those leftovers will prevent food waste!
There you have it: ideas and inspiration to cut the plastic in your fridge, and make good use of your purchases.
We want to know: where else in your home have you reduced plastics lately?