I'm looking for feedback when dealing with unavoidable waste. I've been working very hard to change my spending habits and purchase food items that promote a zero waste lifestyle. But what about the bits and bobs that come with these new items that also include waste? For example, I've stopped purchasing milk in plastic jugs or cartons, and have opted for buying from a local company that sells milk in reusable glass jars that can be returned. However, part of these milk jars are a plastic lid and plastic ring (that seals the lid) that cannot be returned or recycled. So, these 2 pieces end up in the trash, despite my best efforts to lower my waste. Another example is the twist tie around a bunch of kale or spinach. Any tips for how to work around this? Or should I just accept that these will be included in the trash?
I am a teacher and I save lids and take them to school to be reused in student projects (our green club does a "trashion show" with bits of household trash that cannot be recycled). Bea made an art piece with her butter wrappers. I save my produce twist ties, strip the paper portion off, and used the wire for school projects. I save any rubber bands from the produce and put them in the dish in the copy room. Thermal paper tags from the thrift store go in the trash, as do the little plastic pieces they attach them with. My contact cases and old lenses and foil packaging do too.
I consider s 95% reduction in waste to be a success. I would rather not worry myself with the last 5%, but to spend that time, effort, and energy helping others to reduce their waste by 95%, or even 50%. It will make a much bigger difference in the end.
If you are really dedicated to that last little bit, you could consider terrecycle or other programs for recycling that unavoidable waste. I'm not sure its very energy efficient, though.
I buy loose spinach and mesclun greens and put them in my own bags. I buy Swiss chard and broccoli bunches that are bundled, sometimes with those twisty things and sometimes they are rubber bands. I don't worry about twisties. Eating fruits and veggies in abundance is really important, so I'd rather see people doing that even if it means generating more trash, because let's face it, the medical profession generates huge amounts of trash and the back end result long term of not eating F/V and unprocessed plant foods will likely result in more medical visits, which generates trash, costs more money, and will take a toll on one's health.
I don't eat animals, but I make my own milks using nuts or rice. 1/2 cup of almonds or other nuts will make about 4 cups of milk. One cup of cooked brown rice will also make about 4 cups milk. Nuts and rice both come in bulk bins if you can find them, so there's no wastage or trash there if you bring your own bags. I don't know what animal milk costs but even a quart of nut milk is pretty inexpensive considering the small quantity of nuts you need to make it. The cost of homemade oat milk and brown rice milk probably approaches zero. :) You can flavor your plant milk with a few drops of vanilla if you like. There are a lot of questionable ingredients, like oil, salt and sugar, in commercial plant milks. At least this way I know what I'm getting. Grain milks like oat and rice milk are not going to be as rich as nut milks, obviously, but they work for people who can't or won't eat nuts and seeds.
It seems like everybody has to find a comfort zone for being able to do this ZW thing long term. Once you leave a relatively comfortable zone of behaviors and actions, you risk giving up or becoming frustrated and not enjoying the process. Until capitalism is abolished, much of it doesn't matter anyway since the system itself is so unsustainable. Good luck! Let us know what you decide to do. :)
I use a nut milk bag I bought on Amazon for about USD 8. It's easy to use and keep clean because it's made of nylon. There are also cotton and hemp NM bags, Amazon has a large selection. Or you can use a chinois if you have one.
You can also make nut milks without straining the fiber off. I soak almonds in boiling water for one minute and the skins slip off easily. Then I put them in the blender with water and a chopped date for sweetness. I don't drink nut milks by the glass but use them in recipes and this is a faster way to do it without losing any quality for your recipes. Unstrained almond milk is also terrific over oatmeal. I use 2 ounces almonds, 1 1/2 cups water, and one date to make a batch. The leftover pulp if you strain, however, can be dehydrated into nut meal or added to cooked grains and cereals.
Grain milks like oat milk can be a little more "slimy" than nut milks because they don't have the fat that nut milks have to smooth them out. I'm accustomed to oat and rice milk so I don't have a problem with it. Oat milk also freezes great. And you can always blend in some nuts or seeds with your grain milks to even them out a little more. Commercial grain milks have oil added to work around this problem but I don't use plant oils so I make my own.
You can use a mix of nuts (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.) with vanilla and/or dates added and I make hazelnut milk every year around the holidays. :)
There are lots of non-dairy milk recipes on line. Good luck and have fun!
As an emergency backup I just blend 2 T almond butter with 1 C water and it serves the purpose for gravies or baking. I don't really drink any mylk straight...water, coffee, tea and juice are my go tos.
In direct response to the plastic associated with glass milk: I know it's not a solution, but I return with the bottle. I keep hoping that the dairy will get the message that it's their waste, not mine :( Twist ties/rubber bands: some venders at the Farmer's Mkt will take them back -always I'll try and engage in a convo about alternatives though probably ignored most of the time (sigh), metal twist ties with a paper coating are potentially recyclable with other metals, rubber bands, washed, are useful around the house, or donated to a community venue that might use them (e.g., our local library), the plastic coated ties=ugh!
Another alternative to dairy milk, although with its own distinct flavor, is make-your-own coconut milk and cream using bulk shredded coconut. Check out online recipes and instructions.
The cherry dessert can also be made with fresh or frozen mangoes or berries, still yummy!
If you don't freeze cherries yourself, you can buy them in bags in the frozen section at a lot of supermarkets. The frozen veggies and fruits I buy are packaged in LDPE-4 plastic bags, which I put in my recycle bin but can also be returned to the stores at their plastic bag return bin. YMMV depending on where you live.
For the record, I support people buying frozen fruits and veggies (without added ingredients like salt, sugar, animals, and fats) because for many folks it's cheaper and/or easier and/or more convenient than buying fresh, and because I'd rather see people eating frozen veggies and fruits than junk food that is homemade or bought in bulk.It's not zero waste, but the science on frozen F/V is clear that it can be just as healthy as fresh, oftentimes more so because veggies picked for freezing are flash frozen immediately and will retain nutrients better than fresh shipped hither and yon. :p
One of my fastest meals when I'm too tired or am out of fresh veggies is a bag of mixed frozen veggies, kidney or garbanzo beans, and homemade tomato sauce served over WW or brown rice pasta. Easy and delish!
I keep hoping that the dairy will get the message that it's their waste, not mine :( Twist ties/rubber bands: some venders at the Farmer's Mkt will take them back -always I'll try and engage in a convo about alternatives though probably ignored most of the time (sigh), metal twist ties with a paper coating are potentially recyclable with other metals, rubber bands, washed, are useful around the house, or donated to a community venue that might use them (e.g., our local library), the plastic coated ties=ugh!
I totally agree with the idea of recycling. It gains importance considering the fact that waste has a huge impact on the natural environment. Our bit, might sound a drop in the ocean, but eventually caters to the betterment of future generation. They reduce the use for raw materials thereby rainforests can be preserved.
Another beautiful concept on similar lines is the upcycling strategies. Turning old objects into gorgeous works of art in itself is an art. One can upcycle everything from furniture to clothing to glassware. Found few practical and simple ways of upcycling in an article https://www.junk-works.ca/locations/blog/2017/01/03/10-tips-for-upcycling/