Plastic Free July - Day 12: So far, so good yet so far, so bad

Since the start of Plastic Free July I don't think I've taken one coffee cup, plastic bag, straw or plastic utensil. So that's been a success. That's what I signed up for! But I have also been looking at my groceries and a lot still comes in plastic, even though I try to shop from the bulk aisle. I know I didn't sign up for that level of Plastic Free July, but it's impossible not to think about it now. You would think our food co-op has decent bulk options (because it's a crunchy co-op) but there is only half a row of bulk bins. The rest of our "bulk" is pre-bagged in plastic baggies and bar-coded. So it's been a bit of a struggle and I'm trying to figure out which item (or two) we buy regularly that could be purchased bulk elsewhere, to start. 

In an effort to make my food so I can avoid waste (a packed lunch is transported single-use-plastic-free!), I've been trying out a few new recipes. The last week or two (or four) I just ate rice, beans and a vegetable (or kimchi) for lunch every single day. Thanks to the Instant Pot making it so easy, we regularly buy dry beans and rice in plastic-free bulk. And while I can usually hang in there with duplicate meals ...4 weeks straight of rice and beans actually started to break me. I'm only human.

I've been trying to switch it up with not beans and not rice but still vegan and tasty and not super expensive. (While I haven't tried any of their recipes yet, I noticed Budget Bytes has a vegan category.) Some of the recipes I tried out are below -- most of the unpackaged stuff is produce and some things came in glass. But a lot came in plastic, too. More than I would have thought.

(this version has the tempeh bacon recipe)

First of all, it is not lost on me that both tofu and this tempeh have soybean content but I maintain that's not the same thing as beans-beans. You know what I'm saying. 

Back to figuring out which pantry staples we buy that I can figure out how to get package-free. Tofu? Pasta? Those are the ones I'm thinking about focusing on. I love Bridge tofu so that won't be that easy to replace with equal quality (seriously - it's quality tofu) but the pasta should be easier.


  1. When I lived in Princeton, NJ the actual health-food shop (I think it was called Whole Earth. Independently owned, had been there I believe at least since the 70s) had bulk tofu - i.e. cakes in a barrel; you could opt to use a disposable container or bring your own container. Here they are:
    I'm not suggesting that you go to Princeton to buy tofu (duh!), but (a) giving you hope that it exists & (b) they might be able to give you the name of their supplier, and then you could look for who near you carries the supplier.

    1. Actually I think they're an independent co-op

    2. I know I've seen tofu in bulk in some of the groceries in Chinatown as well and there are a few delis with a good vegetable selection in Park Slope that have it too - though I'm struggling to remember exactly which right now.

      I did email Bridge tofu to ask them if they sell it in bulk for package-free sale anywhere in NYC so hopefully I'll get an answer, though I suspect it will be a NOPE. (They're in CT.)

      If that comes back a no, I'll work a little harder to remember which markets had the blocks stored in water for the taking with tongs!

    3. Also the Bridge stuff is organic and I don't think the bulk bins at the delis are so...I'll have to think that one through, too.

  2. The other day I cut up some tofu & doused in Soyaki & set it to broil. It was on point, tastes like store-bought baked tofu, really satisfying texture. When I lived in Sweden they sold bulk tempeh in downtown Malmö at the Asian supermarket - it was made by Indonesian women living in Holland so it was decidedly not local, but it was packaging-free. I'd love to find something like that here bc I really love tempeh.

    1. I did email the tofu company I normally buy from to see if they sold them in bulk anywhere and he said package free is a by-gone era and "go plastic or go DIY" haha. So I'll be trying some of the Asian markets, which is likely going to cause me to choose between organic and package-free.


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