Bin the yogurt tub forever

It is recycling week and some of us are very religious at recycling. We rinse our containers and bottles before putting it in the recycling bin, remove plastic windows from envelopes or the bubble wrap from padded envelopes, wash our takeaway aluminium/plastic trays, and put them for recycling. It feels good to be responsible and do every bit we can. Recycling helps reduce the burden on virgin resources of the earth.

 

While there has been an increasing emphasis on recycling, we are even more delighted when we reduce our recycling waste. Yogurt tubs are one of the most easily avoidable bits of plastic waste. As a child, we never had the concept of buying yogurt in our family. It is so simple to make yogurt at home, and you do not need a yogurt maker. All we need is milk and a yogurt starter. The yogurt starter need not come in packaged form. We could use left-over yogurt, green chilly stems, or even lemon juice. Just add to lukewarm milk and in a few hours the yogurt is ready.

 

During summer months, yogurt can take anywhere from 8–12 hours at room temperature to set. From March to May, October, and November, when it is relatively warmer, I would leave my yogurt in a preheated oven to set. During the colder months, yogurt would require more continuous warmth to set—either inside an instant pot or in an oven at about 40-50 degrees Celsius. I usually make yogurt from a litre or two of milk and it lasts a week for my family. And there is a lot in plant-based yogurt to explore – I have tried Soy, Almond, Coconut, peanut and even Cashew and Melon Seeds.

 

Yogurt is one of the common favorite foods. It comes in different flavors in small plastic pots, which are often thrown in landfill. Some councils do not accept these containers for recycling, and some even encourage putting them in the general bin as they would be incinerated to produce electricity. However, plastics used to make these containers contain additives like heavy metals (lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, and antimony) that are added for better performance or functionality. Research has shown that these heavy metals do not affect the food stored within; however, it has been proven that these heavy metals can leach into the environment, affecting the soil and water resources. When the plastic is incinerated, the heavy metals remain in  fly ash, which is part of the residue after incineration. Hence they can still impact the environment.

 

If plastics were only carbon, the life cycle of plastics would have been so much simpler; unfortunately, there are various grades of plastics, and they come with a a range of additives, which makes their recycling all the more complicated.

By now, it’s clear that only recycling is not always the right answer and doing something as simple as making your own yogurt can help reduce how much plastic we use and discard. Let us not just recycle but also reduce our recycling waste too to have a lesser impact on our planet.

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