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We made our second trip to the grocery store Friday night—yes grocery shopping on a Friday night, we know how to live it up at my house!—and did pretty well with our zero waste challenge.

Re-using a yogurt container

Since our first shop two weeks ago we have done some research on a number of things. First, since the stickers our co-op provides for use in the bulk foods aisle to mark your container weight and the item’s price lookup number (PLU) are not recyclable, we went to the hardware store and got ourselves a couple of china markers (also known as grease pencils). These are made of hard wax and wrapped in paper. They can write on glass, metal and plastic, and you can wash the marks off with a little soap and water. Works great on our own glass containers. We tend to reuse containers from pre-packaged food though, like the big yogurt tubs we buy. These of course are printed all over with product information and don’t lend themselves to easily being written over. But we managed!

I’ve also been researching cat litter. We have found Okocat. It comes in a cardboard box. The litter is made of reclaimed wood, is dust free, clumping, flushable, biodegradable, and allegedly lasts longer than clay cat litter. Our co-op does not sell this litter but one of the big pet box stores not far from us does. Target also has it, but not in the store. We bought a box today to try out. Hopefully Waldo and Dickens like it. I’ll let you know!

We were feeling pretty awesome about ourselves while shopping, but unfortunately somehow didn’t manage to bring enough containers with us and had to avail ourselves of two plastic bags on the bulk aisle. But, we will reuse the bags, and we can recycle them. Still, it was a bit of a fail there.

This time around, we only had two things we had to change our purchase on. The tempeh we buy comes in vacuum sealed plastic. However, there is another brand, made locally and wrapped in paper, we bought instead. It is a couple dollars more, but we do get slightly more for the cost. Ounce to ounce though the local paper wrapped tempeh is more expensive. But since we are saving money on other things I guess we at least come out even. Plus, we are supporting a local company instead of a big corporation.

We also needed to buy some pasta. The brand we usually buy comes in plastic. Our co-op sells some varieties of pasta in bulk and we were going to avail ourselves of that option when we noticed a new brand of pasta that was on sale. It is made from red lentils and comes in a box. So we decided to give it a try. It might appear on a Meatless Monday post sometime. You never know.

I am currently having a think about the yogurt I like to buy. As I mentioned, we reuse the containers in the bulk aisle, they are a perfect size! An unsweetened soy yogurt tub lasts me a week. The problem is, for food safety reasons, there is a plastic peel-away film on it beneath the lid. I can reuse and recycle the container but not the plastic film. What to do? I bought a yogurt maker last year and have tried a number of times to make my own yogurt and have not had any success. The yogurt maker doesn’t have a temperature setting and I think it doesn’t keep it at the right temperature. I guess that’s what I get for buying one that only cost $25.

I might have a solution. I recently found a recipe for oat yogurt. No probiotics need to be added, and it just needs to be kept mildly warm while it sets up. It is not a milk yogurt at all, it is basically fermented oat flour. I am making it this weekend and will let you know how it turns out. If it is a success, then no more plastic soy yogurt containers will be bought.

Not quite zero waste, but we are making progress.