Upping my Zero Waste game

market shopHello! Life is full of little obsessions.  Lately mine has absolutely been about reducing the amount of plastic coming into the house. I was inspired by the recent ABC Four Corners documentary on the failing recycling industry in Australia, particularly the recycled glass market, and the mass warehouse storage facilities filled with broken glass waiting to be recycled.  I also heard an alarming statistic the other day – in the first ten years of this century we have produced more plastic then we did in the ENTIRE LAST CENTURY. Finally the science is out on how long it takes for plastic to breakdown, but a known known is that it at least takes longer than our lifetime.  So every piece of plastic I buy/use, I am sending to landfill for my children’s lifetime and beyond. It really got me thinking about how complicit I am in all of this excessive plastic production.

The primary plastic culprit in our house is groceries. And I am the grocery shopper, so it is really up to me to lift my zero waste game.  My theory is if I reduce our supermarket intake (processed foods) , and increase my market intake (unprocessed and likely to be unpackaged, food) then we will reduce our plastic consumption.

In our early, pre-zero waste days I would say the ratio would be 3:1 in the supermarket’s favour, in terms of quantity.

A couple of years down the track, and this week when I went shopping, our ratios completely reversed.  It did not take long.  Every month or so, I look for some new alternatives.  For example, with a bit of research, I located a deli that sold cheese cut from cheese rounds (like a beautiful triple cream brie) as well as tasty cheese – that was not pre-wrapped in gladwrap. The deli just wrapped it up in paper and I bought it home and put it in a cheese cloth. I bought some fresh pasta in a stainless steel tin – they just “tared” my tin (put it on the scales and pressed reset so I did not pay for the weight of the tin).

I then went to an organic butcher and purchased my meat in old Tupperware-types of containers. I know this is still plastic, but I also don’t believe in throwing everything away if it still has a useful life  – it’s going to end up in landfill in any event. Finally for mince, I reused some cereal bags that my husband eats – great for mince and they will be washed and recycled at the REDrecycle facility at Coles.

And they beautiful thing about it all – my early retirement plans were not compromised. The entire food shop came under budget, and I bought all organic meat, including two chooks, a leg of lamb, lamb and chicken mince and chicken breasts.

Strangely when I cooked with some of the meat last night, I treated it differently.  Call it psychological but I found myself not just dumping the meat to brown (or stew, when I try to do things too quickly!) but cooking it in batches, looking for the browning meat and making sure not to overcook it. I put way more love and care into my food last night.

That could also coincide with the fact that I now have more time, as I am working two days a week but hey, it felt great.  I enjoyed every mouthful.

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