Many of us are now more aware of the global issue with plastic pollution. In January 2018 I decided to start on a journey to plastic free and then to zero waste.
It’s middle of summer and the weather outside is 30ºC plus (hard to believe in the UK since we get so much rain!). Being summer, it’s definitely the season for light meals. One of the most popular is salad.
But how can it be made completely zero waste? After all, as it stands today, many fruit and veg produce often come wrapped in plastic packaging. Meat and fish is often also wrapped in plastic wrapping, or is tinned. I’ve listed some ideas below for how to get individual ingredients Zero Waste or free from un-recyclable plastic packaging which you may wish to consider:
Lettuce is often wrapped in plastic wrapping in supermarkets. Some of it is recyclable, and some isn’t. It’s not always clearly labelled as to whether it can be recycled either. And recycling doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, as most plastics can only be recycled a small number of times, and so ultimately, ends up in landfill.
To ensure that lettuce is zero waste, I’d recommend trying a couple of different things. Have a look in local farm shops or farmers markets. You may be surprised at the amount of loose produce available there. Or, grow your own lettuce / rocket leaves from seeds. I have an apartment, and so I don’t have any garden space. But I decided to have a go at growing my own lettuce and rocket leaves from seeds. I got them from a supermarket for around £1.50-£2 each.
Although I might buy a lettuce for £1, the advantage with this is that I can pick the leaves as and when I need to in order to make a salad. They’re fresh, and when picked, they grow back again which means I could potentially have an endless supply of salad if I look after the plants properly. I make sure I water my lettuce and rocket leaves twice a day using a small rose watering can.
This could be a difficult one as in most supermarkets they come in plastic wrapping. That wrapping is at least recyclable from the supermarket I use. However, there are better alternatives. I’d recommend looking out for natural grocery stores, or vegan stores in your local area. The one I found sells almost all their fruit and veg produce without plastic, which is great as you can also buy as much or as little as you want to. Not only does it help to reduce plastic waste, but also food waste.
When you buy it, put it in a container in the fridge. This helps to keep up it fresher but also eliminates the need for plastic wrapping.
Another option I recently discovered was to buy directly from a zero waste supermarket. The one I visited has a range of fruit and veg without any packaging, including beetroot, spring onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and others. What’s great about this is that they’re all sourced locally, so have done less air miles.
In my local supermarket, I’ve found that most of the tomatoes are wrapped. There is one small section where tomatoes can be bought loose. Cherry tomatoes have been difficult to find without packaging. I’ve recently found them in a natural grocery store, at farmers markets, and at a zero waste supermarket.
Another difficult one. Farmers markets, local farm shops, or natural grocery stores / vegan stores are the best bet for these right now.
I get around this by buying olives in glass jars with a metal lid. I buy the supermarket own-brand versions to keep the cost down. Jars are also great for storing food in afterwards. I tend to keep mine as reusing is a much better option than recycling. Plus, it saves me from having to buy more storage containers – a win-win!
Fish and chicken
Fish and chicken can be bought in tins to reduce non-recyclable packaging if you’re really struggling. I take my containers to supermarkets, deli counters, or local farm shops to fill up, so that I’m not taking home any packaging. However, I have found that most deli counters handle the produce using plastic gloves, and often wrap the meat or fish in it. I have asked for it without in the past. There have also been times when I’ve taken it home, so that I can make sure it gets put in the appropriate place for recycling, rather than going straight to landfill.
This is a fairly easy one, and there are a number of options. I’ve recently found olive oil / herb dressings, salad cream and mayonnaise, plus a number of other options, in glass bottles with metal lids. There are some which come with a plastic wrapping round the top, so avoid them for a zero waste option.