This post is part of our Easy, Waste-Busting Food and Drink Recipes resource.
This post shares recipes for:
Tea can be tricky in a zero waste lifestyle. Generally, we avoid teabags because most brands have plastic in them. The ones that don’t (like, Scarborough Fair and Red Seal) tend to have plastic wrap around the boxes. We prefer loose leaf where possible. Sometimes you can buy loose leaf tea in bulk stores. Check our Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides to see if this option is available near you.
Overall, we’ve found that making our own tea blends out of spices, fruit and/or foraged leaves is the best way to go (and much cheaper). Check out some of our ideas below.
Put all the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until it becomes a fine powder. Store it in an airtight container in a cupboard.
How do we use the mix? We just put a 1/4 of a teaspoon in the bottom of a cup, and then fill the cup with boiling water. If you want you can add a teaspoon of honey. We love the drink just like this, but if you want to make it into an actual chai, check out the link to the original recipe, which explains how to do this (and then see our suggestions for low-waste milk options below).
We spend a lot of time foraging for leaves and flowers that we can use to make teas, and also experimenting with standard pantry items like fruit and dried fruit. With the leaves and flowers, you can pluck and use them fresh, or you can dry them, blend them and store in an airtight container. So try some mixtures out! BUT make sure that if you are foraging you know what it is that you are using because some plants are poisonous – DON’T experiment (sorry for shouting). Some great ingredients for infusions are:
We are often asked how we manage to drink milk (dairy, vegan or otherwise), without packaging. In this post, we discuss both.
Broadly speaking, if you want dairy milk, short of getting and milking your own cow, the only zero waste option is to find a farm near you that uses a vending machine system (where you bring reusable glass bottles to refill), or a milk company that operates a bottle swap system. Check out our Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides to see if there are such operations near you. If you don’t have a vending machine or bottle swap system near you and you want to reduce your waste footprint, you could consider reducing your dairy milk intake (say, getting one less bottle a week) by using non-dairy milk for some things instead, if you can bear it (for example, putting non-dairy milk in your cereals or baking, both of which are much less noticeably different than non-dairy milk in tea). If this doesn’t sound too horrendous, then read on to see how to get non-dairy milk without packaging…
People often ask us how we manage to avoid Tetrapaks for non-dairy milks because most non-dairy milks come in this type of packaging and it sure is wasteful (Tetrapaks are a composite product, made of multiple layers of different materials, so it’s a hassle to recycle. For this reason, in most parts of NZ, Tetrapaks are landfill only – not a great outcome, especially if you are skipping the dairy milk for environmental reasons)! Coconut milk often comes in steel cans that, while effectively recycled, are mostly not recycled in NZ, but shipped overseas. Furthermore, the cans are lined with plastic on the inside, as well as the plastic labels and adhesive on the outside.
We avoid all this packaging by making the milks ourselves! You’ll be surprised by how easy, and how cheap this is (seriously). Not only that, but by making it yourself, you skip all the preservatives, additives, salts, sugars, and oils that often get added to packaged non-dairy milk.
Our go-to milk of choice is oat milk because it’s basically free it’s so cheap to make (and because it’s easy to find NZ-grown oats), but you can make other milks too (sunflower seed milk is a favourite of ours for hot drinks as oat milk doesn’t work as well in this context). Soy milk is not hard to make, but the trick is finding unpackaged soy beans (particularly NZ-grown ones – we don’t want soy beans that we can’t trace the origin of) – the only place we’ve seen them in a bulk bin is in Nelson.
Here are the ones we can share with you (scroll down to find the one you want):
This is our go-to milk of choice for hot drinks because it produces a lovely, creamy milk just like a nut milk, but sunflower seeds are way cheaper than nuts, so it’s much more affordable 😀 Also sunflower seeds don’t need to soak as long as nuts to blend effectively.
NB: You can reserve the mashed up seeds left in your sieve/cheesecloth and use it as an oil substitute in baking, mix with a bit of flour/herbs/spices/salt and bake to make slapdash crackers, or chuck it in with homemade pestos/dips.
NB: You can reserve the mashed up nuts left in your cheesecloth and use as an oil substitute in baking, mix with a bit of flour/herbs/spices/salt and bake to make slapdash crackers, or chuck it in with homemade pestos/dips.
NB: You can retain the coconut mush left behind in your sieve for various things, like adding it to breakfast/baking. Make sure to keep the mush in the fridge. After about 48 hours it will start to ferment – at this point it’s nice with some lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper as an almost cheesy-like topping or side dish. Be careful though, if you leave the mush too much longer it will start to smell and taste like foot.
As noted above, we’ve only made soy milk in parts of the country where we can find NZ-grown soy beans unpackaged (not many places…). We use this great, no-fuss recipe by Mary’s Test Kitchen.