An Update On My Single-Use Plastic Free Week
This post was created in partnership with BRITA. In case you missed Monday’s post, last week the guys at BRITA challenged me to #SwapForGood by trying to cut down on single-use plastic (they’ve been campaigning since 2017 to get people to swap single-use plastic for more sustainable options to cut down on household waste, for example swapping bottles of mineral water for filter water, you can find out more here!) By way of recording how I got on, on Monday I went food shopping and found I could manage to buy everything on my shopping list single-use plastic free except for milk (you can read how I got on here!), and today I thought I’d share some of my single-use plastic free meals from last week. Hopefully, if you decide to take up this challenge yourself too I hope this post will also give you some meal ideas to help you on your way!
As usual, I planned most of my meals for the week ahead before I went food shopping, and left a few meals spare for using up leftovers. Going about the challenge, I decided to just buy the fresh and replacement store cupboard items I needed for the week and to use items I already had in stock for recipes, single-use plastic free or not. However, in making my meal choices for the week, I tried to be as conscious as possible about what little single-use plastic I was generating and if it could be eliminated in future.
Breakfasts tend to be pretty repetitive for me; avocado toast or a yogurt bowl topped with fresh fruit and cocoa nibs. I had some bread in the freezer from the bakery, sliced and packed in a paper bag that formed the basis for my toast, and while the avocado in question was originally wrapped in plastic, it is easy to source them without. Since getting the idea from Julia Turshen’s fantastic book Small Victories (hands up who is excited for her new book, Now & Again which is all about making the use of your leftovers?) I’ve been obsessed with putting kimchee on my avocado toast. I’m big on savoury and spicy breakfasts, and this is ideal for the mornings as it tastes really complex, but it is in fact really easy. Tom Hunt actually made the cauliflower kimchee at a food waste event I attended the other week (do check my Instagram highlights for all the kitchen tips I picked up from him!), but usually I buy it in a jar from Whole Foods – I switched out from the plastic tub I used to buy at the beginning of the year.
If I fancy a sweet breakfast I usually stick to my usual breakfast bowl formula: natural yogurt + pureed fruit + fresh soft fruit + coca nibs. I am pleased to announce that thanks to the River Cottage Organic Live Yogurt I found again, in Whole Foods, if you’re careful about where you source your products it is actually cheaper to produce this 100% single-use plastic free with better yogurt and seasonal, market fruits!
I’m not a really big snack person, but it turns out most of the snacks I do keep in the house are wrapped in plastic. I’d usually have smeared this, healthier-than-nutella homemade hazelnut and cacao butter (again leftover from the Tom Hunt event) over a couple of Ryvita, but as these come wrapped in stacks of four in single-use plastic, I spread the nut butter over another piece of paper bag-stashed bread, toasted from the freezer. While it was still delicious, I was a little less happy about making this swap as it was not as healthy!
Lunch-wise, yet more avocado toast sustained me through the week, as well as a big vat of courgette soup I did as a recipe test (recipe coming soon!) I picked up the courgettes especially, and while the potatoes I used to thicken the soup had originally come in a plastic bag, they’re very easy to source without. It is a very simple soup that really tastes better with a delicious topping; here I used some of the bunch of mint I got in lieu of fresh basil (can’t be found single-use plastic free!) chopped up with some lemon and lime juice from scraps in the fridge and some extra virgin olive oil as a kind of punchy drizzle. Another day, I used up some fresh dill (that sadly had come in single-use plastic) that was floating around in the vegetable drawer and generous drizzle of breakfast yogurt (it is great on soup, bright, creamy and tangy).
Actually, what with plans to eat out and an evening spent having a barbecue at my parents house (which generated an enormous amount of single-use plastic for the rubbish and recycling, but I was not going to impose my challenge on them!) I only needed to cook dinner twice. For the first night I made Greek Chicken Rice Bowls with marinated chicken breasts from the butchers (wrapped in paper, but I asked for this instead of a plastic tub – they’d have probably leaked if I’d not cooked them that evening), roasted tomatoes from the market and peppers from the fridge (came in plastic but easy to source without) with some crushed garlic tossed in, fresh mint, rocket leaves (came in a plastic bag, and while difficult to source without a plastic bag, possible if available at your local farmers market!) and some feta sprinkled on top. Now, the feta I think was my biggest failure of the week. Because it goes off so quickly, it always (unless you have a local Greek deli near you who will wrap a slice in paper or cheesecloth for you and you plan to eat it that day!) comes in plastic. Also, I buy single portion sizes wrapped in single-use plastic because it goes off so quickly when opened, and I’m only usually serving it to one or two people. I could have served the bowls with a dollop of yogurt instead, but as I’m rather limited in the cheeses I can eat in the first place, I don’t want to eliminate something long term even if it is better for the environment! And, I do think it is important to find a balance between cutting down on single-use plastics, and cutting down on food waste.
On the next night I’d planned to make a one pot farro risotto, but had to buy short grain brown rice instead. The dish was delicious and wholesome, but it took forever to make due to the absorption rate of the rice; in this case, I really wished I’d had a plastic bag of Waitrose farro in the kitchen; while I usually find making dinner relaxing, it became unnecessarily frustrating and put a bit of a damper on my evening.
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Eating out, obviously what I was given was out of my control. I’ll never know how much single-use plastic was generated producing either the pulled pork burger or feast of Indian small plates I enjoyed, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that in the fortnight since the last time I’d sipped Hugo’s/ Aperol Spritz/ Campari Spritz/ Pimm’s/ Gin and Tonics out of balloon sized glasses at my local they had switched to paper straws in all drinks. This really made me notice the three plastic straws I got through in my cocktails at the Indian!
On the water front, I honestly think at least at home, BRITA have really helped me #SwapForGood. Plastic bottles make up for 67% of household plastic recycling, and 5.5 million bottles go into regular rubbish. Obviously, using re-useable bottles and BRITA filters is an easy fix. Before the challenge I was getting through at least a plastic bottle of sparkling water every day, and when I’d remembered to buy it most of my still water also came bottled too for the better taste. Since BRITA hooked me up with one of their fill&enjoy fridge door water filter jugs and a brand new SodaStream, I’ve not opened or had to throw away a single plastic water bottle. The water from the filter tastes so much better and cleaner than London tap water, and remembering to re-fill the SodaStream bottle with BRITA filter water and pump it with gas to refrigerate for later only takes a minute more than remembering to put another bottle of sparkling water in the fridge anyway. And #SwapForGood is now also saving me money on bottled water!
On the go, however, while because the challenge was at the forefront of my mind I remembered to fill up, chill and take my fill&go filter bottle with me when I left the house, this may be a challenge in itself to remember to do it in future; I usually only buy single-use plastic bottles on the go if I’ve forgotten to get or bring a drink, or because brining a water bottle out with me would have filled my bag with yet more weight to strain on an already bad shoulder, caused by carrying heavy bags of food shopping back and forth!
You can buy your own fill&enjoy fridge door jug here, and your own fill&go filtered water bottle for on the go here. Again, if you’ve missed it you can check out my post on doing a single-use plastic free food shop here, and be sure to check back on Friday for a super easy, single-use plastic free supper, and my thoughts at the end of the challenge!
This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.