Most people start with groceries when going zero-waste, and where better to start than breakfast? This cereal is my go-to breakfast because it is zero-waste, healthy and versatile. I like to start my mornings with lots of fiber because it keeps you fuller longer and I’m always hungry.
I start off with a base of any cereal (bran flakes, multigrain flakes, corn flakes, millet flakes). You can buy these pretty easily in bulk or lower-waste packaging. I know bran flakes are not the most exciting thing, but the toppings make this. I’m obsessed with Dr. Greger (author of How Not to Die), and he recommends nuts, seeds and fruit in your breakfast. So I like to add a scoop of ground flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. I add the same to oatmeal (also a great zero-waste breakfast). All of these seeds are a great source of “good” fat and high in omegas and protein.
After that, you need some fruit! A banana is a great way to get potassium, but I usually save them for smoothies and add dried berries (antioxidants!) to my breakfast. I use any combination of golden raisins, cranberries, currents or whatever else I have on hand. Fresh berries are good when they are in season. Fresh fruit can be found in grocery stores and farmers markets package free, and dried fruit can be found in bulk stores.
Lastly add some milk. I love almond milk the best, but anything works (I’ll post some nut milk recipes soon). Just make a coffee or tea and you’re good to go.
I hope this gives you some inspiration for breakfast and to make one meal a little more eco-friendly. Let me know if you try it and what your favourite breakfasts are.
My First Zero Waste Tea Shopping: David’s Tea and Bulk Barn
I love tea. I drink several (minimum five) cups a day. I have always drank loose leaf tea but it’s only recently that I have completely switched to loose leaf. The only time I don’t drink loose leaf is when I’m at my grandpas house and he makes us a pot of tea after dinner. I find that I don’t really like black teas in loose leaf. Maybe I’m just not used to anything but Tetley’s orange pekoe, but I just can’t do orange pekoe, earl grey or really any black tea in loose leaf. I will do the odd chai tea though.
My favourite tea is green tea. This I will happily drink in loose leaf or matcha form. I also like herbal teas. Lucky for me these are easy to get in zero waste form.
Even if loose leaf tea comes in a non-zero waste container it is still producing much less waste than individual tea bags. Some people say you can compost tea bags and others say no, but if you don’t have a compost (I’ll be getting one this summer) than it’s best to skip the bag anyways. I’ve talked about this a bit before in my kitchen swaps article, but I wanted to touch on it more now.
I’ve recently bought zero waste loose leaf tea from the Bulk Barn and David’s Tea. Bulk Barn is only in Canada, but similar bulk stores exist in most places. David’s Tea is available widely in Canada and some locations in the United States. To see more about Bulk Barn check out my last post.
The tea I choose from Bulk Barn is fair trade Chinese green tea. I bought .25 pounds of tea (or so the jar says, I don’t remember what the scale said). I am sad because their tea selection has shrunk over the years. They had many green teas, some black teas, and a few herbal teas. The green was the only one I was interested in. I sadly had to choose between a fair trade tea and an organic tea. They didn’t have any green teas that were both. I like the tea I choose. It was around $10 and will last me quite a long time. I use less than one tablespoon (maybe even less than half) for each cup of tea so such a large jar will last a long time and save me money compared to tea bags and cafes.
David’s Tea is one of my favourite places to buy tea (for any Americans reading this it’s similar to Teavana which has many more US locations than David’s tea). They have a wide variety of tea. You can buy it in packaging or you can buy it in metal tins (with labels and sometimes plastic lids), but you are always allowed to bring them in (no matter how small) and have them refilled. I used two containers from a chia tea kit I got as a birthday gift years ago for my tea today. I love that they have lots of organic teas. They also organize everything by colour (all the herbal teas are in a yellow container). So it’s very easy to find a tea you like in store.
When you look online they have a filter for kosher, organic and fair trade so you can see all the teas that fit which ever category(ies) you choose. I haven’t ordered tea online so I don’t know if you can get zero-waste friendly packaging. I use the online to decide what kind of tea I want because it takes me forever for me to make decisions.
Once I’ve decided what I want I bring my containers with me to the store. They have a membership card so you can earn free drinks. They make tea for you (with no bag) and you can bring your own mug. I ended up getting organic chamomile, and organic serenity now. I find that both (especially chamomile) are strong so I don’t use too much for a cup. I bought $5 of each tea and it should last me ages. I only drink these kinds of tea in the evening, and not every evening.
I think the quality of tea I buy has improved since going (mostly) zero waste. I take more time to decide on what tea I want, and why, than I used to. This ends up in more ethical and environmental choices.
Let me know where you get your loose leaf from, and what your favourite tea is below.
I was nervous about bringing my own jars because Bulk Barn has just allowed stores across the country to accept them. Luckily the wonderful staff eased that right away. It was not only my first time bringing jars but the first time anybody has brought jars to that store! The staff were so excited to try it out and make sure it works. They had to watch training videos on how to tare the weight and inspect the jars, and they were really excited to finally put their training into action. I wasn’t expecting that at all. So if you’re nervous like I was just do it. It will be fine, and your cute jars might even get a compliment or two.
I didn’t bring many jars because it was my first time, but I will bring much more next time. They only accept glass jars so if you don’t drive, or live really close, this could get a bit heavy for you. First you go to the cash and they inspect your jars for rust, water, or any food residue. If it passes they will weigh it and put a sticker on with the tare weight. Then you just fill them up on your own, and bring them to the cash like usual.
My cashier was so excited she almost forgot to give me my change. Make sure you remember, write down, or photograph the name and number of the product. They are usually very good at recognizing everything but a lot of things look the same. I had to tell them which green tea I chose, and because I had a photo on my phone I was prepared.
I ended up getting some mixed nuts (on sale!), honey roasted peanuts, fair trade green tea, organic pea penne, and organic green lentil and kale penne. I was worried bringing lots of jars (especially small ones) would bother the staff but it caused no problems. I like small jars so I can test things. They often have new kinds of grain free noodles and I like to buy enough for one or two bowls of pasta to test them out.
Overall it was a great experience and I’m so happy Bulk Barn has listened to their customers and allowed zero waste jars.
I insta storied the whole shopping experience, so if you’re into that kinda thing please follow me @amanda_edgley
This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in my zero waste journey. I have been struggling without having a bulk store to go to, and as of February 24, 2017 Bulk Barn’s across Canada will be allowing customers to bring their own containers. This is a great day for zero wasters and environmentally conscious people across the country. In Canada zero waste options are rather limited, primarily being in Vancouver (probably the “greenest” part of Canada shopping wise).
When Bulk Barn agreed to have a test store in October for zero waste, I still had my doubts. Bulk Barn has been well known in the Canadian zero waste scene for being very much against bringing your own containers. When the pilot store was announced I was hopeful but assumed it would take much longer for a zero waste Bulk Barn to arrive near me.
There are 260 Bulk Barn’s across the country so it will be far easier for Canadians to get there zero waste on. There are two stores in my town and I plan on being there bright and early Febuary 24th to show my support for this great change. This is also a great way to make zero waste more affordable; their website always has tons of coupons, and sales in store.
The best thing you can do to encourage change is vote with your dollars. The test stores did really well and because of that the company made national changes! This shows the power of voting with your dollar. If you want more zero waste, and/or ethical options you have to choose as many of them as you can. The more popular it becomes the more likely a business is to follow through.