Plastic Free July Potato Chip Challenge
Potato chips or crisps are my family’s favourite treat, I suspect my extended familys' too!
I choose Smiths chips as they are palm oil free and when I buy them, (the Dad is not always on the same page) they are salted chips only, to avoid any nasties that are generally found as soon as flavour is added. So in my opinion Smith’s plain potato chips are an 'OK' treat for the kids.
The ideal is to make my own. In my current level of busy, time is at a premium and making yummy veggie chips has become a luxury. Though if I am honest (the kids are brutally honest), my best attempts have not trumped plain potato chips.
So what is the problem with my family eating potato chips?
The problem with eating potato chips (crisps) and many other snacks, ignoring ingredient issues, is that you cannot buy them outside of serious plastic packaging due to their storage needs to stay crispy. The big problem is with their packet's environmental impact.
Virgin plastic is used from non-renewable resources to make the chip packets. Each packet has been made to last forever.
They are the classic ‘one-use plastic’ nightmare our Earth is relentlessly bombarded with that we have to stop making.
Image from Giving Compass
On top of this the Earth gets the double whammy of the high Carbon footprint used to make the packets.
My 2020 plastic free July challenge is to not buy potato chips and instead find waste free snacks that would satisfy the family’s salty, crispy, savoury taste wants with the goal to replace the potato chip treat - all the while hoping a fabulous home compostable, low Carbon footprint packaging solution appears very soon!
What are chip packets made from?
A typical potato chip packet is made up of multiple layers of polymer materials. Each layer performs a specific function such as a moisture barrier, resistance to oils, for freshness and layers to make the bag light, flexible and unbreakable to ensure they are as cheap as possible for shipping.
Layer materials include: Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) with a thin layer of metal foil, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), BOPP without the foil, thermoplastic resin.
Can chip packets be recycled?
The packet can’t be recycled into material type, due to the way the foil and plastic layers have been adhered together making the layers too hard to separate. There is currently no machinery around that can separate the layers.
The best you can do to recycle your packet in Australia, is to clean it, and put it in a REDcycle bin at Woolies or Coles. Hopefully it will be recycled into a hard plastic product. See Smiths Future for Packaging and Current Recycling - I found their goals very disappointing...
The Potato Chip Replacement Challenge
Three bulk food stores were selected that allow bulk food to be bought in your own containers or in supplied paper bags. Two are in my neighbourhood, the third is in a distant suburb, is online and offers shipping. The kids chose their snacks to sample. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, they did not select any of the ones I normally buy such as the awesome vegetable chips from The Source Bulk Foods.
I ordered extra bulk foods from the online store Weigh'n Pay and at first, thought the whole box full was an epic 'Plastic Free July fail' as all was sealed in plastic. 😊 On speaking to the passionate owner, Craig, he explained the bags are compostable cellophane and they are moving to the new 100% home compostable bags for shipped orders soon.
The snacks gathered from each store were eaten on different days when they were received. The kids rated each store's snacks with 1 being the favourite.
Finally they picked THE favourite that could replace the potato chips from the snacks they had sampled.
The snack the kids' picked as THE potato chip replacement favourite was the Grain Waves. It was an obvious front-runner throughout the challenge as we reflected and compared.
If you were wondering, the parent's number one pick was the Salt and Vinegar Chickpea Puffs - Yummm!! Though unlike the kids there were many across the 3 stores that we would equally snack on to replace potato chips.
From the 'Mum' point of view I would have preferred the kids selection to not be the Grain Waves because they contain a decent amount of sugar for a savoury treat. Though my objective was to find a 'treat' that they buy into as a potato chip replacement. So.... (for now) Grain Waves, here we come!!