Last month I did something radical. I went an entire month without creating any trash in my kitchen what so ever. All the groceries that I purchased were packaging free... no bags, no boxes, no plastic bottles, no paper towels, no paper napkins, no packaging on my meats, cheeses, vegetables, bread, etc. After a week or so of finding my way... getting myself familiarized with all of the proprietors that could accommodate my efforts, I absolutely fell in love with this way of shopping and living. It is very simple (with a little planning) and rewarding.
I was intrigued and eventually moved into action after reading about Bea Johnson, the author of the blog The Zero Waste Home. She and her family live a complete zero waste lifestyle. The entire contents of their family trash for six months fits into one wine glass.
Why? you might ask. Let me first say that I'm no hippy, I drive a car, I fly on airplanes, and I don't care for granola (accept for my mom's recipe). The reasons are many but I've boiled it down to the main three... 1. For the Earth... I'd like to hope that the earth I pass on to my children is a better place, not a used up carcass of a planet. 2. For my children... teaching them by example to appreciate and be grateful for what they have and not waste and want more. 3. I truly believe that the food we eat, when not processed for packaging, is a better quality in both taste and nutritional value. Also, organic is great, but organic without plastic packaging that is grown locally is even better!
Above is a photo of the mesh bags and dishes, etc. that I take with me to the grocery store or farmer's market. All produce and bulk items go into the mesh bags. My bread I buy at the bakery, have them slice it and put it into my bread bag. Flour, sugar etc. go into flour sacs (pre-weighed with the tare written on them). Fish, meat, cheese, etc. are weighed at the counter and put directly into my glass dish. The pesky "sticker" is then put on my lid.
There are very few items that have stumped me and when I can't buy those items packaging free then at last resort, I buy them in recyclable containers (but no plastic). For example wine, milk and Dijon mustard. All my vegetable scraps are sent in to my daughter's school for their composting bin that goes to feed a wonderful organic garden. When school is out, we're going to start composting ourselves for our garden.
Farmer's markets are the easiest place to shop for me because their produce is sticker free and the vendors love it when you refuse their bag. I also shop at Whole Foods for my bulk foods... they have a wonderful bulk food selection in my local store. I found a small health food store in my town, that sells bulk spices. I grow my fresh herbs in my garden.
This "minted French du Puy lentil salad" is witness to the fact that easy delicious meals are simple to put together with my packaging free lifestyle. I was worried how my family would react at first. My husband loved it and got into it 100 percent with me. My teenage son was skeptical at first and said , "But mom we aren't Amish!" He finally came around after he realized it actually improved his dinners and that I still made tarts and desserts without any difficulty. My 7 year old daughter has never realized we changed things... she isn't missing a thing.
The coffee comes from our local coffee roaster, Jojoka. My husband brings in our empty coffee jar, has it filled and chats it up with Johan at the coffee bar over an espresso. The olive oil, salts and even candied ginger are all purchased bulk.
People's reactions to this could be a blog post all on it's own. Most people are interested and supportive. Some people behind the meat and cheese counters act put off but I suppose it's because it's just different for them not to wrap everything in paper and seems an unusual request. Now they all know me at the places I frequent and we have our little "routine" down. As I walked away from the fish counter yesterday, the fish monger called out to me, "You go girl!" Such positive support keeps me going.
Packing free minted French du Puy lentil salad
1 pound French green (du Puy) lentils
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves cut in half
3 celery stalks - cut into a small dice
4 scallions, green and white parts, sliced
1 red pepper - cut into a small dice
1 yellow or orange pepper - cut into a small dice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, minced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh spinach for the bed
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add garlic, bay leaf and lentils. Simmer for 20 or until the lentils are tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Discard the garlic and bay leaf.
Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in a large bowl. Add the lentils, diced vegetables, and herbs and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of spinach.
If you'd like to post a comment, I'd love to hear from you! Pleas click here.