Plastic Free Week 3: Fresh Food Without Film

Sticking to food packaging for a second week, I decided to try a few different shops and markets to see what was on offer. The highlight of the week was the Carlow Farmer’s Market which takes place every Saturday… so much fresh produce, most without a plastic film or container in sight. This was the best and easiest place to go plastic free on this challenge to date. Make sure to check out your local farmer’s market this weekend, and don’t forget to bring your own containers along! Here’s a summary of the third week:

Day 1) Fresh Milk

This is a tough one and I haven’t found a solution in my area. I checked & my Avonmore milkman doesn’t deliver glass bottles.

PLASTIC FREE? I get tetrapaks (same price) – less plastic than bottles but still have a plastic lining.

FAILED!! If you’ve had any success, I’d love to hear about it!! Anyone fancy starting a campaign to bring back the old-school glass bottles?

Day 2) Yogurts

Sticking to dairy, let’s tackle yogurts. As with milk, it’s hard to find yogurts that are plastic-free.

RESULT: Found two different brands Glenilen Farm & Killowen Farm that have glass jars. Have tried both and they taste really nice.

PLASTIC FREE? No. These yogurts have a plastic lid (recyclable). If you’ve had more success, let me know! On the plus side, the jar (& lid) can be reused for spices & seeds.

COST: More expensive – In SuperValu, Glenilen Farm is €7.14/kg with a white plastic lid and Signature Tastes (Killowen Farm) is €6.36/kg with a black plastic lid which can be non-recyclable. These were dearer than Danone Activia (my previous regular yogurt) which is €5.18/kg in Lidl or Tesco.

Day 3) Olives & Other Deli Items

There’s nothing better than picking up fresh olives but do you need all those plastic containers?‬ ‪

RESULT: No you don’t! Bring your own. Not only did I have no problems, the staff were delighted to use them.‬ ‪

COST: No difference! ‬

Day 4) Farmer’s Markets

There are local food markets all over the country at the weekend. I was home on Saturday so decided to check out the Carlow Farmer’s Market. All vendors here are food producers so you’re guaranteed a local product. But is it plastic-free?

CHEESE glorious cheese! Elizabeth in Carlow Cheese was surrounded by wheels of it. Produces sheep & goat cheese, but sells a big variety.

PLASTIC? Currently transitioning to paper-based wraps. Bring your own container & fill it with cheesy goodness!

COST: Similar to shops

FRESH FLOWERS! There’s a lot of mileage on most bouquets. Shirley in Lily’s Field cuts beautiful locally grown flowers from her garden and sells them in the market.

PLASTIC? Uses paper towels & small plastic bag to wrap but has a paper option or you can pick them up as is.

OTHER PRODUCE: There’s so much other food available on a variety of stalls that have no plastic packaging… bread, juice, jam, fruit, vegetables, meat, porridge… the list goes on. I was really impressed by The Haggart Farm stall (see photo) as there wasn’t a bit of plastic in sight.

If bring your own containers you can eliminate all packaging. Check out your local farmer’s market!

Day 5) Cooked Meat

Most packets of ham have a plastic tray, with non-recyclable plastic on the outside.

‪PLASTIC FREE? My local deli uses greaseproof paper. If your deli uses plastic, you could bring a sheet of paper. It might inspire them!‬

Day 6) Sauces

I love chips with ketchup & mayo on burgers, but these are often in plastic bottles.‬ ‪

RESULT: Ketchup & mayo are widely available in glass bottles & jars, often by the same brand.

 COST: In SuperValu the glass option is only marginally dearer.‬ The glass Heinz bottle is €5.82/kg but with a current special offer, the top-down plastic bottle is €4.35/kg.

Day 7) Pasta & Sauce

It’s one of the stable foods in my diet but it’s usually covered in plastic.

RESULT (Pasta): I picked up pasta in a box (with small plastic window) in SuperValu.

COST (500g): Baresa pasta in Lidl 47c (plastic), Barilla pasta in SuperValu €1. For sauce, there are a few alternatives to the stir-in plastic tubs. Sauces are widely available in glass jars but they can be expensive.

CHEAP SOLUTION (Sauce): A delicious option is to buy own-brand chopped (or peeled) tomatoes, add to cooked pasta with herbs, cherry tomatoes… Boom! Pasta sauce for about 50c.

Great Suggestion (@choiceIrregular)

Science Calling Plastic Free Challenge

Bought in plastic packaging… for the last time!

Every day during the month of August, I’m going to tackle a plastic item in my home and try to eliminate it from my life (and bin). For bonus points, I’m going to do this without spending any extra money. For transparency, I’m excluding all prescribed medication and skincare from this challenge. Why is this related to science? Check out my first post on the challenge to find out!

You can follow my daily challenges on Twitter and Instagram (on that point… Science Calling is joining Instagram for the first time… hope to see you there!). There will also be a weekly post updating you about my successes (and failures).

Join in by taging me on social media, using #SCPlasticFree, and most importantly, reducing your own plastic consumption. If you have any tips to help me on my journey, please get in touch or comment below.