Thursday, 28 March 2019

Fruit juice, milk and eggs


One of my projects was to figure out the difference in carbon footprint between plastic bottles and drink cartons. But you know what? I am no longer going to because I can avoid both.

In our house, plastic bottles or drink cartons were mainly milk and fruit juice. We don’t drink coke or lemonade. Occasionally we drink wine or beer. Those come in glass bottles. Water we had already taken care of (you can read my blogpost on water here).

I don’t drink milk or fruit juice myself, but my husband Mick likes his daily glass of each, so I had to find a solution for the bottles and cartons.

Fruit juice

Mick likes a daily glass of orange juice. He drinks about 2 litres a week.


The obvious thing to do here is squeeze your own oranges.

So I went looking for a sustainable fruit press for Mick’s birthday. I looked at several electric ones, thinking I didn’t want to make his daily routine too burdensome but then Mick suggested himself we go for the completely mechanical one.

Right, so I bought this beautiful piece of kit that has now been in our kitchen for 1.5 years. Mick now presses oranges every day. After a while I asked him if it was no too much work. He said it wasn’t. The pressing takes just as much time as he needs to wait for his toast to pop out of the toaster.

Freshly squeezed orange juice is more expensive than what he used to drink but, of course, I should compare the price with 100% fruit juice from the
supermarket. Most ‘fruit juice’ is indeed diluted and contains lots of added refined sugar and has little to do with fruit juice.

Milk

Mick also likes a daily glass of milk. He drinks about 2 litres of milk a week.

I knew that some people were getting their milk straight from the farmer. But we live in the city and we have no car. 

How was that gonna work then?

I looked on the internet and found several milk trucks selling milk on weekly markets in Antwerp. I found one on the Friday market and a different one on the Saturday market. The Saturday market is really nearby so that was ideal! We decided to try it.


Mick bought 2 glass bottles and went to the milk truck on Saturday. The milk is – as you would expect – much better than anything you find in the supermarket.

The problem is, the milk doesn’t always last a week. And if I decide to cook something with milk (like b├ęchamel sauce for instance), we need more than 2 litres. I will still need to buy milk from the shop.

Also, the milk truck people are a small local business and they are not always there. But recently, the town council has announced that the Thursday market is going to move closer to home. We will check out if it has a milk truck. If you look for solutions, they will present themselves to you.

Eggs

The egg boxes were also an eyesore. OK, they are not plastic, but most of them are also only used once.


Whilst dropping off some donations at the Oxfam shop, I picked up a sustainable plastic egg box (yes on this occasion I traded cardboard for plastic!).

The milk truck (as well as any greengrocer in the neighbourhood) sells loose eggs. You can always bring your own box. The eggs from the milk truck are also much better than those from the shop.


Environmental impact

We used around 100 litres of milk a year and about 100 litres of fruit juice. That is at least 200 cartons or plastic bottles.

Our new solution brings down the waste almost to zero:
For the fruit juice, Mick buys his oranges when he needs them. They are always available. The orange skins go in the green container.

For the milk, we try to buy 2 litres per week but the mild truck is not always there and 2 litres a week isn’t always enough. Hopefully, we can find another milk truck soon.

For the eggs, there is no more waste. Loose eggs are available anywhere.
Big win!

Financial impact

The fruit press was a one-off investment of 80 EUR. The fruit juice we used to buy was a lot cheaper than freshly squeezed fruit juice. But if you compare 100% fruit juice, or freshly squeezed fruit juice, like some shops now offer, the price is more or less the same, albeit sometimes difficult to compare because the price of oranges varies from season to season. In Carrefour one litre of freshly squeezed fruit juice is 4.99 EUR all through the year.

The glass bottles cost us 10 EUR for two. The milk from the truck costs 0.90 EUR per bottle. The price of milk varies from around 0.60 to 1.50 EUR and even more depending on the type of milk you buy and the shop you buy it in. 0.90 EUR is not too much.

The price of eggs is mostly the same, whether you buy them with box or without. The egg box cost me 0.50 EUR at Oxfam.

Space impact

The oranges may take up a bit more space in the fruit bowl than the fruit juice carton, but we have less waste and it looks pretty.

The milk bottles take up just as much space as the carton as do the eggs and we have less waste.

Time and effort impact

The weekly trip to the milk truck is an extra effort. The oranges and eggs we buy during our weekly shopping. The oranges can be carried in the reusable vegetable bags.

So overall more effort but better quality and less plastic, hardly any financial impact. I consider this to be a win.

Next: the bathroom shelf, stay tuned.


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