The Bag Lady
Hands up who DOESN'T have a giant collection of reusable bags stashed in a cupboard somewhere? No, didn't think there'd be any hands. I recently disinterred a whole breeding colony of them from on top of my wardrobe, and brought them out so I could see the sorry, tatty state of them all. I haven't thrown any out, because I figure eventually I will run out of plastic bags, and then what will I take stuff to the op shop in? But it is a pretty sad collection. Still, I rescued some that are less sad than the rest.
My new bread bag, above, bought from a market many years ago. I gave it a nice hot wash, and took it down to the deli, where they happily popped the bread straight in the bag. Yes, white bread. I am breaking in the family slowly. First, slice your own, then we'll work up to wholemeal..
Next I found a string bag, for apples and oranges and such.
Old storage for apples at the bottom of the fridge:
New storage for apples at the bottom of the fridge:
It is a large cake box. So if I want large cakes AND apples, something will have to give. And yes, look at that plastic-wrapped pumpkin at the back of the fridge. Will I have to start buying whole pumpkins?
New bread bin:
Takes up the exact space in the cupboard that a plastic-wrapped loaf did, but is much neater. Win!
Cheese and vegemite scrolls. So easy to throw in the lunchbox in the morning. Stored in a plastic tub in the freezer.
So, some wins, no? Well, cue to my conversation with the butcher this morning. I brought in my Pyrex dishes again to be filled, which he did, but then I wanted some bacon and ham. Now it is sometime since I have bought bacon and ham here, because I have been seeing other smallgoods manufacturers. Don't tell. There is a local supermarket that sells local, highly packaged free range ham and bacon cheaper than the butcher. There, I've said it. Anyway, last time I shopped for bacon at Rob's, he cut it off the bone for me, but since then, health regulations stipulate that as a manufacturer (Rob makes all his own smallgoods) he has to keep his products at a certain temperature throughout the entire process, and then cryovac them as soon as they are done, within a couple of hours. So all of his processed meat has to be encased in little plastic tombs so that we won't get listeria poisoning. OK, so I don't want listeria poisoning, but Rob's premises are amazing, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to set out to kill his customers. It's that old dilemma between safety of the public, where blanket regulations have to cover all eventualities, and individual choice...
Anyway, it turns out I can have my bacon and ham plastic free if I order ahead, and buy them within the set number of hours after they are sliced. So I will turn up on Friday morning, bright and early...
And I think, why, exactly am I doing this, to save a plastic packet, no, two plastic packets? I'm sure Rob thinks I am insane. Then I think of every cryovac packet that has, or will be manufactured, and the thousands of years they will remain in landfill, and how many million more will be added to them before someone works out a sensible alternative (oh, I know, not putting them in packets...).
Turns out delis, who haven't manufactured the meat, can still sell them fresh sliced, from a fridge that doesn't contain raw meat (to prevent cross-contamination), but of course, those delis would have already received the ham in a plastic-wrapped state..
Also discovered that non-cooked but cured food can be sold not encased in plastic, so I bought one of Rob's superb Spanish chorizos instead. Which he handed to me in a hand wrapped in a plastic bag. Next time, maybe, we will have a chat about tongs..
So the conversation is ongoing. It is not an easy or simple thing I am asking, apparently. But what if ten, or forty or one hundred of Rob's customers asked for plastic-free food? Would that change anything? Someone has to be the first, the fool. I am the fool for change.