Zero Waste and Meat

I thought I’d share something I’m sure I’ve mentioned, but I’ve never actually photographed and documented.  How to eliminate waste when buying meat.  First, start with a butcher.    These are (surprisingly) common in the two suburbs I’ve lived in recently, and even in my parents local shops! Maybe your supermarket has a butcher in house, that can work too.

I’ve chosen to *reuse* my waste from other products in order to package my meat to bring it home.  It’s quite simply a ice cream container.  It’s a large mouthed container with a lid, making it easy to put in mince, a steak or two or a smallish roast.

Given that I shopped before each meal at the loft, this worked well.  I’m yet to fully adapt it to a weekly two-person shop. However, on the weekend, I took the ice cream container into Harris Farm green grocer (an Australian chain) to get some $6.99 per kg chicken breasts (an unbelievably good price in itself too).  I said to the deli counter man ‘can I have as much chicken breast as you can fit in this conatiner, please?’.  He didn’t even bat an eyelid.  As he filled it up, I was excited to see there was salami, prosciutto and other deli meats – all unpackaged! I was that nerd being visibly excited and pleased to have discovered this!

No, that’s chicken breast, not ice cream in there!

In another interesting twist, my solicitor sent me an unsolicited gift, thanking me for my previous business, and reminding me I can recommend him. I’m convinced he might be a reader (at least of this post), look what he sent me:

Keep cups - thank Mr Solicitor
Keep cups – thank Mr Solicitor

Do I need more keep cups? Well probably not, but then again, I keep being without one when I crave a coffee. Or there’s some in the dishwasher waiting to be run, so in reality, I think they’ll get some good use!

And now to the dirty, business end. How did this week’s weigh in go? (rest assured, there’s single use meat trays in there still…)

Slim your bin
Weigh in for Wed 28 Aug 2013

That’s two weeks weight, that 406g, meaning, this week’s weight is 406g-248g = 158g! 

Better than last week – no way!  I think it helps to keep the same bin bag/liner and stuff in there, and the two of us think ‘wow that’s heaps of waste’ – and forgetting it’s really two week’s worth!  A short list of culprits to the waste

  • meat trays – bacon and mince I think
  • Philadelphia cream cheese wrappers (from a delicious cheesecake) <- perhaps this are recyclable foil?
  • other cheese wrappers – haloumi and fetta cheese namely
  • paper towels soaked in soy sauce.  Now that was a funny accident – the BF spilt it all over the (thankfully navy) sofa… He also ended up soaking the back bottom hem of his shirt, which looked ‘interesting’ – had me laughing hard which is a positive, as lately I’ve been tired, and when I’m tired, my reaction isn’t usually laughter!

Any soy sauce soaked bottoms out there?  Have you attempted a zero waste meat purchase?  Was it scary or did it go ok?

16 Replies to “Zero Waste and Meat”

  1. I haven't attempted a zero waste meat purchase, but I don't know of any butchers nearby. Whenever I make it to the grocery store, it is usually too late for them to be working. I've definitely never seen that ice cream before, but that is a good idea! I have also never thought of the foil in the cream cheese being recyclable, hmm. I do want cheesecake now, though. That's amusing your boyfriend managed to spill soy sauce – I'm glad your sofa is a dark color! I would be so paranoid about having light colored furniture.

    1. I prefer dark sofas being a red wine drinker too! Interestingly it's the second time in the new house I've had to wash a throw cushion cover!!

      I'm not altogether surprised to hear that butchers are low on the ground there – I think they are slowly disappearing! Do you grocery stores one work on weekends? I know ours do.

      Mmm just had some cheesecake – ginger-nut crust, caramel cheesecake, with an additional caramel layer. I'll miss it for the next few days whilst I'm interstate and the BF hoovers it up!

  2. I *still* haven't worked up the courage to do the ice-cream meat shop! I'm being ridiculous…I have to just do it! Hmmm….I could sneak in right on opening time, when nobody else is around and see how it goes. Meat trays and associated plastic wrap are a huge component of our non-recyclable waste!

    1. Go Fairy style – show people how it's done :p Nah, everyone's got their things, I have things I'm too shy to do… I'm just trying to work out what it is. No, I do, I'll just have to put my mind to it.

      There's still meat trays in my house too – I'll eventually get to none, but it's baby steps.

  3. Welcome to the 'meat in an ice-cream container' club! I use these or even just some of the lunchbox-style plastic containers from the cupboard.

    You will quickly learn approximately how much fits in each type of container. I can usually get 2kg of mince in a 2 litre ice-cream container. It is important for me to buy in definite quantities as I portion them up into meal-sized servings to freeze when I get home.

    Fiona – don't be shy. I try to go when there are other people in the shop so I can show off my containers!

    1. Thanks for the welcome! I'm big on portions too – mainly cause I cook from recipes, and also like to not be too heavy handed on meat (I would eat lots of vego meals if I wasn't thinking of the two of us).

  4. We do the bring your own packaging a lot but we've ben purchasing from the farmers market a lot and they freeze their meet …so, I can't get away from the packaging there….but I get a giggle out of the cashier trying to scan the items clearly in packages from other stores. I have a genaric Giant (local store here) oatmeal container that has seen the whole foods bulk section 4 times now. My Olive Oil container has been 2 times….my coffee containers is tubberware so they don't try to scan that but what I'm finding is customers are learning from my actions.

    Many people didn't know you could bring your own containers. We try to go in not in a hurry and some what prepared to answer questions because people do stop you. I've heard everything from that's awesome that you do that how do you not forget your bag of reusable containers to that's just to much work, don't you have a life?

    1. Man people can be mean when they feel intimated, or something – perhaps they wish they had 'time' to make simple changes like BYO bags when buying in bulk? It's great to influence people though – today I rescued a mug from my hotel room to use in the coffee machine in my course/conference. Why use a single use? And the mug warms my hands (and we ended up running out of single use cups too!). Every little bit is a win (and that's better than nothing!)

  5. I'm a vegetarian, so I rarely buy meat, but I should start bringing my own container to the deli for cheese. I heard about this idea a while back, but haven't gotten up the nerve to try. 😮

    1. I must get better with cheese – my grocery store pre packs it all in cling film (saran wrap?), but there are places where it's not – I just need to favour them. Confidence is the key – and being chatty helps too (but, that's my default status!) Most people can understand wanting less trash.

  6. I do Pyrex containers with the plastic lids for my meat at the butchers, then I bring it home and pop straight in the freezer, easy peasy. Having said that, I have taken ice-cream containers too, when I run out of Pyrex. I really like going to the same butcher, because they know my crazy little ways now, and I don't have to explain myself!
    One of my next challenges is finding plastic-free cheese..

    1. Some delis will have cheese – but I think it risks drying out. I have been meaning to buy more Pyrex – I just feel more comfortable with glass getting clean, rather than plastic. But the plastic ice cream container seems "free". I should scope out more op shops for second hand glass containers.

  7. Girl, you are genius. Butcher is the way to go. I always wash my Philly cream cheese wrappers & stick them in with the recyclables… Just in case. I’m lovin your blog. From a fellow non- techie. P.S. I appreciate all your comments!! 🙂

    1. Yeah this week the philly cheese wrappers were recycling. And whilst I'm not at 100% for the butcher, every meal that's from there is better for my waste footprint. No problems commenting – we're on a shared path!

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