I’m just over one week into Plastic-Free July. One thing I’ve noticed so far is that it’s forcing me to eat quite healthily. Most of the junk food I like isn’t available this month. Even in the last few weeks leading up to July, I cut way back on buying foods that come in plastic packaging.
What I’m Not Eating
It’s amazing how many foods I can’t have this month. When I
glance around the grocery store, it seems like 90% is food I can’t eat because
it comes in plastic. Most breads come in plastic bags. Cold cereal and crackers
come in boxes, but within the box, there’s a plastic bag. I have yet to find a
brand of pasta that does not have the plastic covered window in the box. If I
want pasta, I should find a restaurant that makes their own and doesn’t use
When I’m craving junk food, I can’t stop at the grocery store
for a pint of vegan ice cream or a vegan cupcake. I can’t event treat myself to
a single serving bag of Fritos at the office. There’s no candy, or even gum, because
it all comes in or with plastic. (There are brands of plastic-free gum, but not
by the checkout at the supermarket.) If I want ice cream, I can go to an ice
cream parlor for sorbet or vegan ice cream and get it in a vegan cone, not a
cup. If I want a cookie, there are a few places in town that will sell you a
single vegan cookie, or I have to make my own.
I have notice that I have to be more mindful about planning
my meals this month because I can’t have any pre-made frozen or shelf-sable
meals. This means no gyoza, burritos, or vegan patties from the frozen section,
and no mac ‘n’ cheese, Thai food, or Indian food that comes in microwaveable
pouches or with plastic wrap, envelopes, or bags.
It also means I can use frozen vegetables, which used to be
a staple in my diet. I used to have them at least once, if not twice a day. My
freezer used to be filled with bags of fruits and veggies.
What I Am Eating
My rule for Plastic-Free July is that I’m allowed to eat
anything that comes in plastic that was in the house when the month started.
So, I can have protein powder, coffee, and the bit of frozen fruit and veggies that
are in the house.
Most of my food these days comes from the produce section
and the bulk bins. I picked up a lot of fresh fruits and veggies this past week,
using my reusable mesh produce bags. From the bulk bins, I make sure I always
have oatmeal, lentils, rice, and quinoa in the house – also using reusable containers.
That’s also where I get raisins, sugar, pumpkin seeds, and corn nuts. My store
also has bulk bins for bread, so I was able to pick up some bagels and wheat
rolls last week.
I have dry beans in the house, but it’s been so hot lately,
I don’t want to heat the house cooking them. Instead, I stocked up on beans in cans
that don’t have BPA in the lining. My go-to meal in a pinch is rice, beans, and
a vegetable, topped with a little salt, pepper, and vegan butter. I can also go
into the store aisles for canned tomatoes, olives, and pineapple; and peanut
butter, jam, oil, pickles, vegetable broth base, and condiments in glass.
Make my own oat milk and vegan butter, so I don’t have to
buy them in plastic containers. I recently discovered a recipe for chickpea
salad sandwiches, which is delicious. I may try to make my own vegan patties
this month since I can’t buy the frozen ones.
I also plan to visit the farmer’s market this month to see
what’s grown locally that’s in season. That’s probably the only place I might
find plastic-free berries this month. Maybe I’ll find a vendor who sells pasta
without plastic packaging.