No to plastic bread bags

These drive me crazy. These bread bags are usually NOT recyclable. Which means, if I’m trying to follow a zero waste lifestyle, I had to give them up.

The dreaded plastic. It’s everywhere! I never even thought about it, until I started zero waste!

Granted, we aren’t big bread eaters, but when you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it just doesn’t cut it on homemade tortillas. We decided to simply make our own bread.

One step closer to zero waste!

A tasty concoction.

I’ve read that Bea from Zero Waste Home  fills her canvas bag with fresh bread from the bakery/store. This is also what they do in Europe, and it’s very common and normal. Wonder environmentalist Jen from Jen’s blog told me she leaves her bread bags in the park on a post and people use them to pick up doggie do. There are all sorts of alternatives, but I’ve always wanted to make my own bread so, some time last year, we thought we’d give it a shot.

Bread isn’t as time-consuming or overwhelming to make as I thought it would be, and that’s without a bread machine. The only thing that takes time is waiting on the yeast. We make bread on Sunday mornings when things are calmer and we’re both home, sometimes baking two loaves at a time and freezing them to use as we need in my old Ziploc bags I’ve had since 2008. We’ve experimented and  tried various bread recipes we’ve found on-line, usually whole wheat.

My husband is so much more patient than I am in the kitchen.

This one from 3 Fat Chicks on a diet is one of our favorites. It’s a little crumbly, but we haven’t quite figured out how to solve that problem. It looks like we’d need to use half white flour and half wheat, but I want whole wheat, not half wheat. We looked for a recipe that used olive oil, wheat germ and whole wheat flour. The crumble could also be due to the olive oil rather than butter. But, I’ll eat slightly crumbly bread in exchange for a healthy heart any day. And my man’s not a picky eater. (Thank goodness!)

I found this bread recipe on the 3 Fat Chicks on a diet website. It was sent in by Tejas in 2010. She got it from “Our Daily Bread” by Stella Standard, 1970.

1 envelope of yeast
1/4 Cup of lukewarm water
1/4 Cup of liquid honey (honey with a bit of water)
1 1/4 Cups of hot water
1 scant Tbsp. salt
3 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4 Cup wheat germ
1/4 Cup of olive oil

1. Put yeast, lukewarm water and honey in a bowl and let it become frothy.

2. Mix hot water with salt and let it cool to lukewarm

3. Combine this with the yeast mixture and add to the flour and wheat germ

4. Mix this very well, while pouring the olive oil over the mixture. Add more water if needed to make it malleable. Beat this hard (I use wooden spoon) in a kneading motion in a bowl.

5. Put the bowl in a pan of hot water and let the dough rise.

6. Beat it down and put the dough in an oiled pan (regulation bread size) and let it rise again.

7. Turn the oven to 425F for 10 minutes before you put the bread in the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat to 350F and bake for 25 minutes more.

8. Placing a pan of water in the oven below the rack with the bread on it will give a nice crust.

Let me know how it turns out for you! Happy baking! And now to try this bread maker…

I served mine with black bean soup. Best EVER. You can find it on my G.I. Crockpot site.

Bread recipes and the like:

Going wasteless isn’t a denial, it is fun!  (wastelessjourney.wordpress.com
Homemade Wheat Bread (jenniferessary.wordpress.com
Honey Wheat Oatmeal Bread Machine Bread recipe – 173 calories (dietrecipesblog.com)
Things that Rise – Part 1 (findyourthing.wordpress.com)
The Basics: White vs. Whole Wheat Bread (breadbylucia.wordpress.com)

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34 responses to “No to plastic bread bags

  1. Homemade bread is delish! But what do you do with the packages that the flour, sugar, yeast, etc. come in? Compost them, I guess?

    • Sharon, luckily, none of them come in plastic. I try to buy ingredients in either containers that can be composted or recycled. The flour bag can be composted. The honey comes in a glass jar which I can reuse or recycle. The yeast I try to get in glass as well and usually reuse those too. The olive oil comes in glass. The wheat germ I buy in bulk in my own container. And the salt comes in paperboard. You know I’ve heard in Canada, they have all sorts of bulk stores you can just breeze in and fill your own containers. Until we reach that level of common sense, I try to reuse and compost as much as I can. (Hey, I never said my kitchen wasn’t a clutter fest! LOL! It’s full of empty jars I’m determined to reuse.) I read buying in bulk can cut down on packaging too—like 25 lb bags of flour, etc. I guess that’s our next step…
      Any ideas? Sometimes I wish I lived back in the Little House on the Prarie days. They didn’t really seem to have this problem. Of course, the town probably consisted of like 25 people….

      • Bulk stores where you can fill your own containers would be great! Actually, come to think of it, back when I lived in Massachusetts, I went to a Hannaford supermarket that had bulk bins, and I took my own plastic bags to refill with stuff like rice, oats, and other grains. Unfortunately our Food Lion here in Virginia doesn’t have any bulk bins at all. Maybe I should ask them about that… But buying prepackaged in bulk could be a good solution, too. Maybe from a nearby co-op. I need to look into that.

      • Jennifer, tell me how you buy the wheat germ? what kind of container (I would guess glass?) and how you weight it at the store. I was thought about it last time I was buying flour and sugar in bulk.

  2. This was a great one! I never even thought of bread bags! I too, have always wanted to have an adventure making my own bread. Most bread in the States is so sugary… or expensive if you get the good stuff. This looks pretty easy. I also like the idea of a canvas sack. I have an amazing bakery right next to work, so it would be really easy to pick up a loaf once a week or something.

  3. littlegreenblog

    well done you – my first few loaves of bread were a complete disaster. I finally found a recipe I liked but although I like the kneading I don’t like the rest of the waiting process. I guess I’m not very patient. Fortunately we can buy naked bread here and 90% of the bread that comes from a supermarket is sold in recyclable bags. I also reuse the bags for storing things, taking to the store for veggies or wrapping sandwiches in.

  4. @ Sharon–good idea! The co-op. I forget. You aren’t around the VA Beach area, are you? They had some bulk bins at the Heritage Store, but those were the only ones I could find. Google health food stores, too. Sometimes they’ll surprise you. But Food Lion seems uninterested in participating in bulk.

    @ Hailey! I promise it wasn’t as complicated as you’d think. And it was fun experimenting in the kitchen with the hubby. He is SO patient. How did I find him? Maybe you two could try it on a rainy day for fun. But if you don’t want to do it yourself, that bakery….girl….I am so glad I don’t live close to one. I’d buy all my bread and stuff my canvas bag full!

    @ Mrs. Green—You make me want to move to England! 90% of the bread? You’re killing me here!

  5. perhaps the people of England are more vocal about their needs and standards..only steady pressure will persuade store managers and politicians to change to a saner/safer packaging system..
    then IF customers DO buy the better products..the stores will become a healthier source of foods.
    i use some paper bags which were made to bake and roast in..i recycled the outer bag, so forgot the brand..and there are no more on shelf either..i re-use these as bread bags..and buy cellophane bagged french bread most often.
    one thing i miss..french baguettes rolled in a sheet of paper hot and crunchy, ( the bread!)

  6. Thanks! I’ll try this one out – I was going to make some loaves this weekend. My husband is so happy that I’ve started making bread again. I used to make it as a teen, and he occasionally would steal a bit (we lived just a few houses away from each other).

  7. Jennifer, to fix the crumb you could try an unbleached white or white wheat. Or add some oat flour (oatmeal run thru the food processor till dust). The crumb is fixed with gluten in whiter flours and oats. Careful though, too much whole wheat and oatmeal makes for a thirsty(dry) sponge. Oh how I do miss bread. We’ve had to give it up for a while in our home but we always made our own for the past couple of years.

  8. Thanks for the great tips to keep from crumbling everyone! I will most certainly put these into action with my next loaf!

    @Polish Mom Photographer—OMG. Did you get your wordpress comment thing working again? MIRACLE! I use these really fine mesh bags to get my wheat germ in bulk. But you could use a glass container or tupperware. I take it up to the front and ask the cashier or person behind customer service if they can weigh my container and zero it out. Then when I bring my container up full, they subtract how much my container weighs and just weigh the product. If anyone gives you any hassle, just ask for the manager. They are always nice. (It’s their job.) Wheat gluten. I didn’t know about this! I’ll give it a try.

    @ Nadine–that is right. We need to be more VOCAL. I’d scream from the rooftops if I could but sometimes I think it might just be easier to move to Europe. Those French baguettes sound like heaven.

    @Lightly crunchy–I love hearing your stories about you and your husband when you lived down the street from one another as kids. So cute. I do hope you like the bread.

    @Ed–I’m going to try the oat flour. (But not too much!) Wish me luck…I’ll eat a piece for you. I hope you get to have it in the house again soon…

  9. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know about plastic that can’t be recycled. Please tell me more. I have an excellent receipe for whole wheat bread that is 100% whole wheat and makes 3 loaves. Claudia

    • @ Claudia–most bags have a number on them, the bread bags don’t. Meaning pretty much that they go into the landfill or the ocean and cannot be recycled. The guy at the recycling center explained if there is no number, there is no recycling. How can I get this bread recipe??

  10. Who knew? I could email or make an attachment or type in comments? You tell me. I received the receipe while attending John C. Campbell Folk School. I attended a writing course. A wood turner maded a BIG bowl for the bread to rise in. and provided the family receipe..

  11. I didn’t know that the bread bags can’t be recycled either – we’ve been putting them in the recycling all this time.

    • I thought I already responded to this Lightlycrunchy! Missed this comment. Be sure you check your recycling center and what they take. They may be more progressive than ours. Being in the deep south, I woudln’t be surprised…

  12. I like your blog so I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award :)

    • Claudia–would you be so kind as to put it in the comments? I think others would like the recipe too!

      Intergenerational–a big thank you for your kind nomination!

  13. Lightly Crunchy–so has my mom. Just check on your local recycling site. Maybe your site does take them!

  14. Libby Keane

    Home made bread tastes way better anyway. Good for you. The bread looks scrumptious. I’ll have to add it to my collection. I’m always on the lookout for bread recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I don’t buy much store bread but when I do I use the outer bags to pick up puppy waste either in the back yard or at the dog park. At least it gets a re-use.

  16. Juwannadoright–as always, you’re full of great ideas. My mom does this too.

  17. Hi Jen, It’s been forever hasn’t it?

    The bread looks great. I’ll have to try that recipe. I save my bread wrappers and use them when I go to the market for fruits vegetables or sometimes meat, if tthe package is leaking.

  18. For recycling #4 plastic bags, try grocery chains that take the #2 shopping bags at their stores. Putting #4 bags in with these is acceptable, according to the recyclers I’ve spoken with; I would check with the chain first though.

    There is a LOT of #4 bag use out there, not just bread. Frozen foods, wraps on toilet paper, grapes and cherries, etc. NOT Ziplocs. Of course, you must remove any zipper first and put it in the curb trash.

  19. @NotWiredThatWay—are you kidding? You’re teaching ME! :)

    @Shannon—great info about the #4 bags. I did not know the toilet paper wraps were a number four. Excellent! I’ll give that a go!

  20. Pingback: No to plastic bread bags | i Unisex. Designer Clothing Reviews

  21. I make our own bread as well, but we have a bread maker. So I guess I should really say the BREAD MAKER appliance makes the bread! I haven’t figured out how to make it less dense like the grocery store bread though… :(

  22. Pingback: Quick, homecooked Eggy Bread | Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household

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