Cheese Please: Package Choices

Disclaimer: I bought this food myself and the opinions are my own.

We’re going to talk about cheese today. I love it! I had to put that out there. I also live in the state of tacos, nachos, quesadillas and more. I don’t want to say cheese is life, but it could be considered part of Texas life. COVID has greatly reduced the amount of cheese we eat in our house. Pre-COVID we shopped in person and usually went to Wheatsville Coop which grates their natural cheese in-house into plastic tubs. That way I could easily recycle the plastic container, there was no additional plastic film, and the cheese was clean ingredients. With COVID, we’re doing all our shopping by curbside pickup or delivery. So we order less cheese but when we do, I try to purchase what is easier to recycle.

A lot of cheese comes in plastic zippered pouches. They are usually small, 4-8 oz. My husband discovered this 32 oz bag for which I’m grateful. We use one big bag instead of 4 small bags. I figure we’re saving at least 2-bags-worth of plastic. It’s also large enough to put trash in and use as a little trash bag if we wanted. This is not recyclable anywhere except in TerraCycle’s All-in-One box.

When there is the option, I look for plastic tubs. These are usually 4-8 oz too, and not much larger. The tub and lid are recyclable in most curbside or standard recycling programs. These do come with a plastic sheet to seal in the moisture or liquid, and that plastic sheet/liner is not recyclable anywhere except in TerraCycle’s All-in-One box.

Only plastic bags or films with a How2Recycle label that says you can put it in a store plastic bag drop-off station can be recycled. Also, if the item resembles examples listed on How2Recycle, or you can push your finger easily through the film, those items can also be recycled at a store plastic bag drop-off station, if you can get it clean and dry. Otherwise, cheese bags and films will need to go in the trash, or you can purchase TerraCycle’s All-in-One box to recycle all clean and dry plastic film and bags. Clean and dry is key, if there’s too much dairy fat residue, i.e. you can see food film, throw it in the trash. It’s too contaminated to recycle.

Not all types of cheese are available in plastic tubs/containers. Cheddar and swiss and such tend to not come in tubs unless you are at a natural, specialty or deli type store. Whole Foods and Central Market, at least pre-COVID, have cheese and anti-pasta stations where you can fill up plastic containers. Sometimes some branches of those chains will put cheese in your own container using deli paper. Wheatsville Coop has an anti-pasta station as well and though the selection is small, you can use your own container, just tare and mark it before you fill it up. Always check with the store beforehand during COVID to see what the current policy is on reusable containers.

If you can find a local business that will let you use your own containers that is great. They can pass cheese over with deli paper to your own container.

This is not a big change, but remember that we’re working to be a little more green. We’re taking small steps each day and with each purchase to make more zero waste decisions that will make impacts down the line. We’re voting with our dollars on how we want to see food packaged and what we want to eat.

Share your zero waste and bulk cheese experiences with us. Do you have any tips or local places to recommend that are more sustainable?

Unless I’m calling out a company or product for some reason such as green-washing or not taking a wholistic approach on their “greener” values, I’m going to edit images so they may be more general use.

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