Trying to reduce plastics in packaged food is an enormous challenge. Not only are there obvious plastics such as bottles and tubs, but also “hidden” plastics such as the lining in tin cans and tetrapaks.
In this post I’m going to look at plastic packaging of beverages, and alternatives I’ve found.
Water. We rarely buy bottled water, instead preferring to filter tap water. We use Black Berkey purifiers fitted in a stainless steel British Berkefeld housing. (In the UK, I’ve found Kernowrat to have the best prices.) Fortunately, for those times when we do buy bottled water, there are still several brands available in glass bottles, such as some of the Highland Spring and Perrier lines. Mr Thrifty takes home-filtered water to work every day in a glass ex-Perrier bottle, which fits neatly into the centre console of George (our car).
Fruit & vegetables juices. Most juices are in tetrapaks, either shelf-stable or refrigerated. Don’t be fooled into thinking that refrigerated “waxed” cartons are plastic-free, because they’re not, and haven’t been in decades, apparently. Both refrigerated and shelf-stable tetrapak-type cartons are lined in plastic. There are a few juices available in glass jars, but they’re a lot more expensive than the tetrapak ones. Not even juice in glass bottles is completely plastic-free, however, as the metal lid used to seal the bottle is lined with plastic. But it’s the best store-bought alternative. I hope to experiment this summer with home-bottled fruit juices. In the photo above (l to r): Sunraysia organic carrot juice (750ml, £1.69 from Morrisons); Biona organic tomato juice (750ml, £2.04 from our food co-op); Rio d’Oro carbonated pear juice (750ml, 99p from Aldi); Dynamic Health black cherry juice concentrate (237ml [1422ml reconstituted], £2.08 from iHerb); Organic Village organic red grape juice (1L, £2.54 from our food co-op).
Tea & coffee. Instant coffee is usually packaged in glass jars with plastic lids, though we buy Douwe Egberts coffee which comes in glass-lidded jars (though the seal is probably plastic). Coffee beans, alas, are always in a plastic-lined foil pouch. Tea is easy to find in cardboard boxes.
Soya and other non-dairy milks. These are always in tetrapaks, either shelf-stable or refrigerated — unlike juice, it’s impossible to find these in glass bottles, at least in this country. Fortunately, non-dairy milk is easy and quick to make at home; our favourite is cashew milk. In fact, we prefer it to soya milk, though I still make soya milk in my spiffy SoyQuick machine, so I can make tofu from the soya milk. Anyone else have a favourite homemade non-dairy milk?
Soft drinks (soda, squash, etc). These are typically in plastic bottles or aluminium cans. Like tetrapaks, aluminium drinks cans are also lined in plastic. We buy soft drinks occasionally; fortunately there are still some available in glass bottles, including Fentimans; Lorina traditional lemonade; and Belvoir cordials. The elderflower cordial we made last summer was delicious, and I hope to experiment with other homemade cordials this summer. Pictured above (l to r): Barr’s Original cream soda with raspberry (750ml, £1.49 from Waitrose); Bright coconut juice with pulp (290ml, 99p (I think) from Wai Yee Hong); le Marché Française sour cherry lemonade (1L, £1.39 from Aldi but sadly now packaged in plastic); Fever-Tree ginger ale (500ml, £1.30 from Waitrose); Taste the Difference apple & damson pressé (750ml, from Sainsbury’s); le Panaché de Saint-Omer shandy (250ml, £1.69 for 12 bottles from Morrisons & Sainsburys); Bottle Green Blossom Cottage lemon & lime leaf cordial (500ml, £1.15 from Asda).
Beer, cider & wine. Although some brands are packaged in plastic bottles/aluminium cans (beer & cider) and boxes containing plastic bags (box wine), most brands are available in glass bottles. Last autumn I made enough cider to last a year, and we hope to become mostly self-sufficient in wine this year.
I would be interested in hearing about beverages in glass bottles that are available in other countries… are they a challenge to find, or relatively easy?