Monday, October 4, 2010

Plastic-free Food: Days 6 & 7

When I originally planned to do our plastic-free food week... I didn't factor in that we would be taking a 6 and a half hour road trip to Scottsville, VA to go camping.  BUT, once I realized those factors... the challenge took on a new shape.  Most often when people go camping (or on road trips) all rules are thrown out the window.  Don't buy bottled water?  Most campers (and road trippers) do.  Don't use disposable plates, utensils, cups?  Most campers do.  AND... when it comes to food... it's certainly not plastic-free.

First thing was first.  Snacks.  When my husband and I went to see Jason Mraz in Greenville, SC... I didn't plan ahead.  Part of plastic-free food week is planning.... so on Thursday, my kids and I hit up the bulk foods sections at: Tidal Creek and Fresh Market.

All containers are mine from previous purchases.... why recycle when we can reuse?!  Front row:  Yogurt covered raisins, carob almonds, dried cinnamon apples.  2nd row: Nut snack mix, yogurt pretzels, corn nuts, gummies.  Back row:  Sesame sticks, pumpkin granola, pistachios, bananas, mustard pretzels

While at Fresh Market, the bakery lady asked my kids if they wanted a cookie.  I looked at the little plastic sheets they use to grab the cookies and explained to her about our plastic-free food week.  I told her I appreciated it, but we just couldn't.  She said, "Hold on.  I have an idea."  She went to the back and returned with a pair of tongs!!  My kids were super happy and I was so grateful for that lady to go out of her way for us!!  YAY!!!'

That evening I made and prepared a slew of things for our camping trip.  I filled 12 glass juice bottles with water (no bottled water for us!  Not even a 2 gallon jug!) and made graham crackers (intended for s'mores) and a loaf of bread.
I promise I'll post the recipe!!

As usual, we were prepared for our road trip with 8 reusable water bottles... filled and ready to go.  Our road trip was long and uneventful.  I kept staring out the window looking at our littered roadways.  I wonder why people still litter??  There have been litter education programs for over (at least) 50 years, but people are still littering... I said out loud, "If education isn't working... and by the looks of it... it isn't... I wonder why these products (styrofoam, plastic bags, single use products, straws, etc, etc, etc) are still being made??  Something has to change."  For me... that's what a good portion of this plastic-free food week is about.  Making a change.  Voting with my $$.... choosing foods and products that won't be on this planet longer than me or my children... OR end up on the side of the road... because even if I don't litter... it doesn't mean that a piece of trash isn't going to fall out of a trash truck or blow in the wind from a landfill... plastic blows.

On our drive, we stopped at Subway for lunch.  Normally, we get chips with our meal and sometimes drinks.  We skipped the chips (they're in plastic bags), said no thank you to our sandwiches being put in a plastic bag and used our own water bottles in lieu of getting a drink from the soda fountain.

After over 6 hours of driving we arrived here:

Here's what we ate for our meals:

Day 1 Breakfast:  Dunkin Donuts and bananas with Chocolate Milk  (don't cringe... doughnuts are my kids special treat when we go camping ;)  In the future, I'd like to make our own)  I had a hot cup of green tea with ginger instead of chocolate milk

Day 2 Breakfast:  Pancakes, chocolate milk and bananas
(true making the pancakes does produce the plastic... from the lid of the buttermilk... I plan to work on this.)

Lunch:  Peanut Butter and Jelly with cut up carrots and fresh oranges. (and our bulk snacks)

I used the bread I made for the PB&J  and used fresh ground peanut butter (put in my own container), Bonne Maman Strawberry Jam (comes in glass with no plastic over the lid... I usually use my own... but we're all out!!!), carrots and oranges were bought loose.

Dinner 2 nights:  Vegetarian Chili with Avocado and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

This photo was taken on night 2 of chili and we had leftover cheese from the sandwiches... so why not?!

Of course, the chili was plastic-free... that was easy.  (I'll post that recipe soon... ok it may be awhile... I've got a lot going on!!) The grilled cheese sandwiches were made my homemade bread and with local Hoop cheese (it's like a mild cheddar) that I got from Tidal Creek wrapped in paper.

Smores:  SO... I said I made graham crackers intended for S'mores.  We bought some Green & Black's organic dark chocolate for the purpose of ooey gooey marshmallows melting the chocolate onto our homemade graham crackers. Thing is... I didn't buy marshmallows.  They come in a plastic bag.  I thought that I would make marshmallows instead... but kept running into plastic.  I kept going back and forth... do I just buy marshmallows??  And ended up deciding that I just couldn't.  I figured that someone would have marshmallows for my kids to score at least one smores... but they were so into doing this challenge that they didn't even ask.  

I'm so proud of my kids as they brought so many different things to me to ask if they could have it.

As we were packing up on Sunday morning, I watched as a tractor went around picking up everyone's trash and putting it in a (roll-off sized) dumpster.  I looked around and realized that besides some compostable materials....we didn't have any trash.  We had a cooler full of beer bottles to be recycled... but no trash to go to the landfill.  AND... that felt amazing.

 On our way home, my husband and I talked about our plastic-free food week.  It's been such a fulfilling experience.... rethinking our food choices... teaching our kids about the problems of plastics (and seeing them understand)... and seeing what we were able to accomplish... In one week, the only plastic waste we-- a family of FIVE-- created was from 4 glass milk jugs.  And it all fits in the palm of my hand:
Once again I sent in my tally of plastics to Fake Plastic Fish: Show Us Your Plastic Challenge... I'll post that as soon as it is up :)
  As I talked to my husband, I had this feeling of not knowing what we're supposed to do now that our challenge week is over.  So I asked my husband, "What do we do now??  Do we go back to buying foods in plastic??"  AND my husband said, "I thought that this was a trial run... something that we would try and see if we could do it.  YOU did it... we proved we could live without those foods in plastic.  Why would we go back??"

I think he's right... that's why I had such a hard time thinking about the "what now".   The "what now" will be that we always strive to purchase no foods in plastic... rework recipes as needed to make them plastic-free AND share our adventures of being a family of five living in a plastic-free food world :D

Moments after I posted... I read this:

"Plastic pollution is the visible symbol of our global crisis of over-consumption. Let's pledge to shift our societies away from the disposable habits that poison our oceans and land, eliminate our consumption of throwaway plastics, and begin embracing a culture of sustainability. 

Our health, our children, and the survival of future generations depend on us." 
~ marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols