I’m not going to lie, the look of glass jars filled with grains on a wood shelf is quite aesthetic. But is it just a smokescreen for your bad habits?
When you go shopping in any supermarket it is really had to avoid plastic. Literally everything from an iceberg lettuce to a bushel of apples is wrapped in plastic and when it is not, it’s more expensive.
Here at AlterEco we have tried three different products to reduce your plastic waste in the kitchen and tell you whether they are worth your money.
First up we have reusable produce bags. You might have seen zero-waste influencers put their avocados in them. They are essentially just mesh fabric drawstring bags that come in a variety of different sizes. I ordered myself a few off Amazon (no, not in organic cotton, because my groceries are not that classy) and tried them out for a few months.
I think I have actually brought them with me to Tesco about three times. Like most people I have my express store around the corner where I grab bits almost every day when coming back home, and no, I don’t have these bags with me all the time – I only sometimes have room for a folded up tote bag in my rucksack since I bring my water bottle, my lunch and my coffee cup every day to uni with me.
So, the times I actually ended up using the reusable produce bags were on the big Sunday shops. But even then, if I remembered.
I did find them handy to keep vegetables separated from each other in my fridge, and avoid having them rot in plastic packaging, but that did not reduce my waste.
Now, one of the bags is my dedicated oat milking bag (honestly, they are great for that and maybe that is what they should be marketed as) and the others are lying in my cupboard.
The next item on my list are glass jars. We all have some and many of off take care to wash out jam jars with the aim to reuse them and so do I. I have always used them sort of as Tupperware for leftover of to repackage something that could not be resealed in its store-bought packaging. But in my last house, we had these lovely open wooden cupboards in the kitchen and I just loved the look of jars on them so I got a load of big jars to keep my grain.
Since my uni has a zero waste shop and I lived in a hipstery enough neighbourhood that we had another such store literally closer than the nearest Sainsbury’s, I thought I would just refill my jars with rice and pasta and quinoa from there whenever I needed. And I did at first, but since neither of the zero waste stores were somewhere i chose to do my big weekly shop, it was really impractical to take all my jars with me on a shopping trip, I slowly but surely stopped the zero-waste thing and just refilled the jars with store-bought grains because they are easier to stack than plastic packets and don’t spill.
The last product on the list is actually something where I didn’t fail: beeswax wraps. There are cloth wraps made sticky with beeswax which are meant to replace plastic film. They can be quite expensive (up to £19 for a variety pack of three), but if you are a cheapskate like me and are willing to wait you will find a good deal on Amazon.
I bought a set of three of different sizes and, since my purchase, I have not been using any plastic wrap.
The way these work is that with a bit of pressure and heat from your hands you can get the beeswax wraps to stick to itself and to the container you are putting it on. I have found them most effective when they wrap an item entirely rather than on a container, as they are a bit stiff in the beginning. But the more you use it the more malleable they become and easier it is to stretch them on any rim.
I guess some of these fails are on me and how little effort I put into actually using these items properly to reduce my plastic waste. I would love to be able to say that there is a product you can buy that will automatically eliminate all your plastic pollution but unfortunately the biggest step you can take is still just caring and trying.