Posts filed under ‘Reduce’

Grocery shopping: avoiding plastic packaging

Pesky plastic is hard to avoid

I’ve had a few things to say in previous posts about avoiding plastic bags while grocery shopping. As I hit my local market last night, it occurred to me that I could shop differently to avoid a lot more plastic. It just means being open to different choices.

You’re going to be thinking “Well, duh!” here, but it was a bit of an Aha moment for me when I thought I’d just look around the veggie section for things that aren’t packaged. So if I want tomatoes, sometimes I’m going to buy tomatoes on the vine, not grape tomatoes (pesky plastic boxes). And if I want mushrooms, I’m going to skip button mushrooms and go for cremenies or portobellos, and put them in a produce bag or paper bag, not buy a little blue box of them covered in plastic wrap. The store has lots of choices, from celery in a plastic sleeve and naked celery, temping Californian berries in plastic boxes or loose local apples, to even cheeses in paper wrapping or cheeses in plastic and meat in butcher paper instead of on foam trays (wrapped in plastic, sometimes two layers!).

It isn’t always easy to shop plastic-free, since sometimes there just aren’t any good choices, particularly at smaller stores that shrink-wrap everything to try to preserve freshness (and therefore reduce waste). Food packaging so quickly becomes recycling or garbage, it’s great for the earth if we can find ways to do without it.

How are you reducing the waste you bring home? Have you swapped one food for another to avoid waste?

November 17, 2009 at 5:39 PM Leave a comment

Ack! Wasted food!

rotten tomato food wasteTry as I might, I can’t help but waste food. Every week there’s something that I should have used up earlier, something that ripened… and beyond… when I wasn’t looking.

Maybe it’s my somewhat erratic schedule — I’ve given up planning more than a couple of days in advance — or maybe I’m just not a great strategist.

I do like making “kitchen sink” vegetable soups and stews to use up what I have in the fridge, but I think I need other ways of dealing with aging produce.

First, I guess I need to know what I have on hand so I don’t buy the wrong things, or too much of a good thing!
Second, when I have too much I should try to freeze a portion to use in a recipe later. Can you freeze mushrooms though?
Third, I should try to be more inventive in using up food. Let’s see, omelettes, novel pasta sauces, roasted veggie surprise…

Do you have strategies for reducing food waste?

November 9, 2009 at 2:19 PM 4 comments

Another blow to plastic bags

Produce Bags with FruitI recently heard that at the end of November, Metro grocery stores will offer their customers reuseable mesh bags for their produce (four for $5) as an alternative to conventional thin-film produce bags. Metro has 484 stores across Ontario and Quebec, so there’s potential for a lot of plastic savings. The bags are reusable, washable and stain resistant, not unlike these Canadian-made bags I blogged about earlier.

Thin-film plastic is considered the worst offender among plastic bag material, since, among other reasons, it isn’t durable enough for multiple use.

I hope grocery chains will take additional steps, such as offering starch-based biodegradable bags, so they break down safely in soil, and allocate fewer rolls of bags around the stores to discourage people from using them for everything. After all, veggies should be washed before you use them anyway. (I use a tiny smidge of dish soap.)

Metro revealed results of a customer survey showing that 77 per cent are making efforts to limit their use of plastic bags when buying fruits and vegetables, while 76 per cent said they would be interested in buying reusable produce bags. According to the same survey, 87 per cent of customers prefer to buy individual fruits and vegetables instead of pre-packaged ones. I certainly think we could do without the plastic bags on celery, bell peppers heads of lettuce and more, and I really dislike buying packs of mushrooms, since they’re in a type of plastic that many municipalities don’t recycle, topped by cellophane.

I don’t blame food producers for wanted to add something to their products. Homemakers‘ nutritionist, Rosie Schwartz has mentioned that one the reasons we have a hard time eating healthily is that packaged foods have lots of enticing images and marketing copy on them, while the healthiest food – produce – does not.

How would you reduce shopping-related waste?

October 30, 2009 at 2:42 PM 2 comments

A few ways to reduce paper waste

Mailbox with flagI’ll admit that I get more mail than I’d like in my mailbox. While I look forward to receiving my favourite magazines every month, and it’s a treat to get notes from friends, I also get notices, statements, bills and offers. While I’ve moved just about everything I can to digital billing, my partner and I still seem to make use of the shredder fairly often. (Hey, shredded paper makes great mulch, according to!)

While I’ve moved some of my bank statements, magazine renewals and utility bills to digital notifications, and I pay my cell phone bill through ePost, I think I could do more to give a few more a reprieve. It’s time I called a few of the letter senders to see if I can get on an e-mail list instead of receiving so much paper. I’d love to be removed from some lists altogether, which always seems difficult, but Canada Post has a suggestion.

There’s addressed mail, and then there’s pure junk mail. While I have a note on the inside of my mailbox lid saying no to junk mail, it’s hard to catch the neighbourhood kids who deliver pizza fliers and the like – they’re quick!

At Homemakers magazine, you can sign up for your subscription online, and change your address renew your subscription digitally as well.

If you would like to see how much you could conserve in resources per year by cutting your paper mail, try this calculator at Pay It Green.

Have you been battling your analog inbox? How have you reduced the amount of paper mail coming your way?

October 28, 2009 at 1:36 PM 1 comment

Clothing Swaps: Any suggestions?

Stack of clothesAs a member of the Green Team at the Homemakers offices, I’m helping put on a clothing swap. We thought it would be a fun way to get people together, help everyone save a little money and make sure that good clothes don’t go to waste. I haven’t been to a swap before, so I’m trying to find out what makes this kind of event work well.

Here’s what we’re doing:
– Circulating a poster via e-mail to encourage everyone to bring in their clothing (clean and in good condition)
– Collecting clothing on designated days and giving a chit for each piece (they’re shopping credits for swap day)
– On swap day, we’ll lay out all the clothing on a large table, grouped by type (e.g., women’s pants, men’s shirts)
– All the leftover clothing will go to a charitable organization

Have you tried a clothing swap? Do you have any tips? has some tips on building a recession-ready wardrobe; read the story here.

September 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM 1 comment

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