13 October 2013

Plastic free kitchen (almost)

I am excited this week. You might think it is because I have my impending trip to sunny Myanmar in six days. My excitement is about something else. The excitement is for the fact that we are almost free of plastic packaging in our kitchen.

That’s right, this is what had me doing a happy dance the other night. As of next week, there will be no more foods in plastic packaging. Our pantry and fridge is now void of packaged pasta, rice, noodles, and frozen vegetables.

The last remaining items are rice paper rolls. Hurrah. We have spices still living in plastic. Until they run out, that is where they will stay. I’m not going to through out food for the sake of my crusade. I have accepted this is a slow process.

We have been making our way through the remaining packaged foods. And of course there has been plastic packaging leftover. Some bags I have kept as they serve as great carry bags to put vegetables or grains in when we do our weekly shop. We buy our grains, beans, rice, flour, nuts, cereals in bulk now. The vegetables are from a grocer. We always take our own packaging and once used, it is washed, dried and used on our next shopping trip. The builder and I high-five each other when we complete a shop with no packaging. It’s kind of a kick knowing you won’t be tossing any food packaging into landfill.

Let’s get back to these plastic packages I have been left with while we ate our way through the last of the packaged pasta, rice, cereal and biscuits. The packages fall into the soft plastic category, meaning they cannot be tossed into the usual recycling that Australians use. So the packaging that could not be reused on our shopping trips was not tossed into the garbage but instead they went back to the supermarket. To be more specific, they went to Coles a local chain of supermarkets similar to Kroger in the US or Tesco in the UK. 


recycle plastic australia

The people at Coles have partnered with the handy people at RED Group to turn food wrappers into furniture. The innovative group created a program called REDcycle that allows shoppers to return their packaging to be recycled into outdoor furniture and signs. REDcycle bins are found at a variety of Coles around Australia.

What can be recycled at REDCycle bins?
  • Shopping bags
  • Fresh fruit and veggie bags
  • Bread bags
  • Biscuit packaging
  • Confectionery packaging
  • Rice & pasta packets
  • Frozen food bags
  • Reusable or ‘green’ bags
Image from redgroup.net.au

We are keeping a box in our pantry to collect any incidental soft plastics that may find themselves in our kitchen. It is essentially there for emergencies including any soft plastic i pick up on my walks, and if the builder buys food that is carried in soft plastic. While the builder supports my decision to say no to plastic packaging I realise this is my journey so I don’t beret him if said plastics end up on our pantry shelves. As I said before, it is a slow process and its great to know that the food wrappers are being turned into a useful product.

Habits are had to break and giving consumers the option to recycle is fantastic. Seeing innovative ideas to solve waste like this and companies that create much of this soft plastic. 

I will share more on how I shop soon and how I am slowly creating a plastic free kitchen. Hint, it involves a lot of glass bottles.
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