What About Cheese?
With an office made up of quite a few Dutchies, the biggest worry about the plastic-free week was the cheese. This proved most challenging of all. While feta cheese can be easily found in glass jars (which was perfect in the salads), our team also loves a block of cheese for crackers or on bread. Since our office is quite close to Albert Cuyp Market, we set out on a mission to find cheese without plastic.
The first cheese stand we came across were wrapping cheese in bits of paper. Perfect right? Wrong! The staff informed us that in fact the ‘cheese’ paper was coated in plastic. Next question, would they give us cheese in reusable containers if we brought them ourselves? Yes! So that’s exactly what we did. Unfortunately this is still not completely plastic free, since the cheese wax itself is made of plastic too.
Anyone trying to cut back on plastic will know that it’s quite hard to find hummus in the supermarket without plastic. This is another item we absolutely love in the office, finding a plastic-free alternative could potentially reduce a lot of plastic. Good news is that hummus is very easy to make at home!
Hayley made a few varieties (plain and spinach) for the week and brought them in reusable containers – delicious!
The Little Plant Pantry
There are ‘zero waste’ initiatives popping up all over Amsterdam right now. One store that is leading the way for the local movement is The Little Plant Pantry. This is a store where you can bring your own jars/containers and fill them with bulk items which are sold by weight. They sell everything from foods, teas, coffees, oils, grains, wines, spices and nuts and also have a 100% natural cosmetics section.
We bought a few staples for the lunch week at The Little Plant Pantry, like rice, cous cous, peanuts, plus something a little different for the team to try – Kimchi! Did you know that when the first Korean female astronaut Yi So-Yeon travelled to space South Korean scientists perfected a special low-calorie version of kimchi for Yi to take with her?
What we Bought
Brown rice, cous cous, peanuts and kimchi – The Little Plant Pantry. Aubergine, tomatoes, frozen spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, veggie spread, carrots, red onions, 2 lemons, pumpkin, chickpeas and garlic – Lidl. Breads we bought from the bakery near our office (which we needed ask for paper instead of plastic bags).
The lunches turned out delicious! When reflecting on the week, we realised that the shopping and meal prep took a bit longer than usual, but this could be improved. Now that we have discovered a few options nearby for bread, cheese, fruit and vegetables we can already work towards drastically cutting our plastic use. A few ingredients we will be swapping in to replace other plastic alternatives are Smaakt Seitan naturel in a jar (tastey fake meat great for salads), sun dried tomatoes in jars, chickpeas (can or jar), feta cheese in a jar, Olive oil in glass rather than plastic and couscous/rice in a cardboard boxes.
We now have a number of reusable fruit and veg bags in the office kitchen, and since we’re so close to the market, it’s a cheap and easy option for us to reduce plastic. Overall, the challenge was a success! We discovered a number of ways for us to cut back our single-use plastic. Our Operations Manager Yan has already brought in a number of delicious homemade hummus’s since the challenge which the team are loving. Now we’re even looking into ways to cut our plastic in other areas of the office too, like bathroom and cleaning supplies.