A question I get frequently is how to buy and store loose leaf greens like lettuce or spinach without plastic. I thought I had the perfect solution back in October 2015, when I posted about Lovely Naked Lettuce. But recently, Stacy from Vejibag contacted me with an even better idea. So I thought I would post an update.
Buying Lettuce & Other Greens Without Plastic
To review, most lettuce, even if it’s not wrapped in plastic, has either a plastic band or a big fat twist tie around it. And while some of those twist ties are wire and paper instead of plastic, I’d rather not generate any garbage if I can help it. (How many twist ties can anyone actually reuse? And vendors won’t take them back.)
Fortunately, where I live, we have other options. Sometimes it means choosing a different store, and that’s okay with me. So I only buy lettuce, spinach, and other greens from stores or farmers markets where they are sold… Read the rest
Back in April I promised a post about making broth. Well, here it is. Actually, this is more like two posts in one. There’s broth that you make from scratch in order to get all the nutritious goodness out of the food scraps you have left, and then there’s broth (or stock) that you need in a hurry for a recipe when you don’t have time to make broth from scratch and you don’t have any on hand.
(The word broth is starting to sound really funny after saying it in my head a whole bunch of times in one paragraph. If I capitalize the first letter, it could be the name of a new Game of Thrones character.)
Better Than “Better Than Bouillon” Vegetable Broth Concentrate
Five years ago, I touted the goodness of Better Than Bouillon broth concentrate that comes in a glass jar and eliminates the need for broth in a BPA-lined can or plastic-lined box. Using a concentrate helps prevent waste and saves money since you’re… Read the rest
Thanksgiving came and went. We gathered with friends, gave thanks, ate food, and took lots of pictures. Well, I took lots of pictures to share with you. Because the only thing better than preparing and eating beautiful food is looking at pictures of it, right? I mean, just ask your Facebook friends.
Our Thanksgiving meal was not entirely plastic-free and zero waste, but it was as close as we could get and still have a turkey. And while Thanksgiving won’t be back for another year, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter festivals are right around the corner. What ideas will you implement to create a waste-free holiday meal?
We hosted a Thanksgiving potluck, which meant we didn’t have to make the entire meal ourselves. That said, we did prepare a hefty share of it:
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Our friends brought:
Yellow squash casserole… Read the rest
Lettuce wraps are my new best friend. I don’t love salad, but I’ve discovered (very late to the party) that nice fat lettuce leaves can substitute for any bread-type product. In fact, I can’t think of a single type of sandwich, be it on bread, bagels, tortillas, or any other grain-based leavened baked good, that can’t be made even better (and of course healthier) by using lettuce instead. (Okay, grilled cheese. But I’ll figure out a way.)
The thing is, I can’t buy lettuce just anywhere. Why? Because, in the immortal words of Jeb Berrier in the film, Bag It, “I like my lettuce loose, like my ladies.” Or something like that. It’s 1am, and I don’t feel like looking it up. But most lettuce, even if it’s not wrapped in plastic, has either a plastic band or a big fat twist tie around it.
And while some of those twist ties are wire and paper instead of plastic, I’d rather… Read the rest
My new favorite thing this summer is making tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes and my toaster oven. Why would I need to do that when it’s easy to buy tomato sauce in glass jars? Well, several reasons. First, even plastic-free packaging like glass has an environmental footprint. (I’ll write more about that in my next post.) I’d rather avoid most kinds of packaging (especially when the homemade alternative is as simple as this one is.) And second, homemade tomato sauce from fresh summer tomatoes is delicious. In fact, it’s so good, I sometimes just eat it with a spoon directly from its repurposed jar.
Two tools make this recipe super easy for me: my ancient toaster oven and a secondhand stainless steel food mill I found at a yard sale several years ago.
First, I spread out the tomatoes on the toaster oven baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. With bigger tomatoes, you’d want to… Read the rest
About a month or so ago, I realized I wasn’t getting enough fresh produce in my diet. I wanted to eat more kale and other fruits and vegetables. And I figured blending a whole bunch of things together in a smoothie every morning would be fast, easy, and painless. But despite the Ecology Center’s instructions for storing produce without plastic , I couldn’t manage to keep kale from turn yellow before I could eat the entire bunch. I was avoiding plastic waste but producing food waste!
And then, one morning on the bus, it hit me: I wonder if you could freeze kale. I Googled “how to freeze kale” and bingo, there were instructions. I just had to figure out how to do it without Ziploc bags.
First, I washed and spun the kale and then cut it into pieces and laid them out on a tray in my freezer to freeze individually so they wouldn’t stick together after I put them all together in a container. (This step is especially necessary… Read the rest
Adding to the continuing series of posts on gardening without plastic, here is another guest post from Ro Kumar, who gave a few tips for avoiding plastic in the garden back in April.
It’s been said by environmental leaders like Michael Pollan that one of the best and easiest things we can do to reduce carbon emissions is to start a garden. Starting a garden can also help to dramatically reduce our use of plastics and improve our health. Here are two great benefits of growing your own food and herbs:
The supermarket in your backyard has no plastic packaging
Everything we buy at stores tends to involve plastic packaging. By growing your own food, you effectively step outside of this plastic supply chain, and enter into your own plastic-free one! I currently have a bounty of sugar snap peas growing on a trellis in my front yard. I use a stainless steel bowl to collect the peas — there is ZERO plastic involved in this process.
Grow your own herbs to
… Read the rest
Six years ago, Michael and I got a notice that a Trader Joe’s grocery store was going to be opening down the street from our house. This was back before I had woken up to the problems with plastic, and the news thrilled me. I had visions of all the fresh salads I was going to buy on my way to work every day. And then a few months later, I saw a photo of a dead albatross chick filled with plastic, and I started attempting to live plastic-free. By the time the new Trader Joe’s opened, I could no longer shop there. The only department where I could find anything not packaged in plastic was the liquor aisle.
What seemed to be the most egregious misuse of plastic was in the produce aisle. While most grocery stores–even mainstream stores like Safeway–carried loose produce, Trader Joe’s seemed to only sell produce in plastic-wrapped multi-packs or plastic net bags. And while some of its produce containers were made from PLA, a compostable… Read the rest
A year ago I explained everything you ever wanted to know about plastic produce stickers: what they are for, what you can do with them, and whether we should spend time worrying about them. After all, they make up a minute fraction of the plastic that’s finding its way into the environment.
What I didn’t know then was that my local utility district, EBMUD, considered produce stickers enough of a problem that it published an article about them in its January/February 2009 issue of Pipeline (PDF), the newsletter that goes out to its customers. In fact, waste water treatment facilities are not equipped to deal with these little pieces of plastic when flushed down the drain, and they clog filters or end up in the Bay or ocean.
Here is the text of the Pipeline article:
Bay Pollution Prevention Corner
An Itty Bitty Fruit Label Alert
A recent customer survey shows us that EBMUD customers are greatly concerned about the health of San Francisco … Read the rest
How do you buy berries and cherry tomatoes without plastic? Most small fruits come in those green plastic mesh baskets or increasingly in clear plastic clamshells. If you shop your local farmers market, it’s not a problem. The farmers want their containers back!
Save Plastic, Help a Farmer
This weekend, at my local Temescal Farmers Market, I brought back my cherry container (which happened to be cardboard) as usual to ask the farmer to reuse. I’ve always thought the farmers were making an exception for me and my plastic-free ways. But wandering around the market, I realized I was doing them a favor. Every farmer had a stack of baskets and containers that had been returned to them.
The egg vendor has always taken back his molded pulp egg cartons.
But I noticed the strawberry vendor had a stack of used green baskets collecting behind her stand.
The blueberry vendor told me he doesn’t even give his plastic containers to customers. Instead,… Read the rest