Enviro Girl is always looking for ways to reduce the plastic in her household. Her family has become more selective consumers in the process, but one area that continually produces the most landfill waste, mostly composed of plastic, is food packaging. Even with composting, recycling, making most meals from scratch and nearly never eating fast food, Enviro Girl estimates that 2/3 to 3/4 of her family’s garbage is plastic food packaging.
Over the past year they’ve ramped up their recycling by setting aside plastic bags to deposit in the recycle bin at the grocery store. Even though they never use plastic shopping bags, a fair amount of plastic bags enter their waste stream through food packaging. Enviro Girl makes her own jam, freezes and cans produce from her garden and buys food using the least amount of packaging whenever possible. How else could she take her kitchen’s waste reduction to a new level? Homemade bread.
Enviro Girl’s family of five loves bread–they eat two loaves of sandwich bread every week, in addition to cereals, bagels and pasta. As a newlywed, she received a bread machine but only broke it out on rare occasions to whip up a bread machine mix for dinner. As she stuffed yet another plastic bread bag into the recycle bag destined for the grocery store, Enviro Girl realized where she had to change her habits to become even greener. She dusted off the bread machine and cracked open the user’s manual.
As it turns out, using that making her family’s bread in a bread machine reduced a lot of waste. The main ingredients Enviro Girl uses to make her family’s bread are either packaged in compostable paper (flour and sugar) or glass (milk in returnable bottles and yeast). By making bread from scratch, Enviro Girl estimates she spends about a dollar plus a very generous allowance for 50 cents’ worth of electricity to run the machine. A buck-fifty per loaf–that’s half of what she spends at the store. It takes her less than 5 minutes to dump the ingredients into the bread maker and press “Start.” The whole family enjoys the additional health benefits of eating fresh-baked, warm bread free of additives and preservatives. The ingredients list on a package of bread from the store is barely pronounceable and full of chemicals like Ethoxylated Mono & Diglycerides.
By using a bread box to keep the loaves fresh, Enviro Girl uses nearly no plastic–in fact, the only plastic waste generated from the entire process are the caps from the milk and shortening containers–dozens of loaves of bread result in a couple of plastic caps headed for the trash bin instead of a plastic bag plus twist-tie per loaf.
Homemade bread is a greener choice. It’s healthier, less expensive, generates less waste and turns out to be surprisingly convenient to produce. And if you’re addicted the the smell and texture of warm bread, Enviro Girl guarantees this is a resolution that’s easy to keep.