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Old 04-30-2019, 04:48 AM
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Reducing plastic use: yoghurt containers


Perhaps my largest contribution to plastic waste is yoghurt containers. I eat lots of yoghurt and yes, I do recycle the containers, but that's less than optimal1; I'd like to reduce my use of them. My other major plastic consumption is plastic bags, but I reduced that use by reusing the ones for produce until they wear out. But I can't do that for yoghurt, at least not for yoghurt I buy at Trader Joes.

Is there another source of yoghurt, one where I can reuse the containers?



1 The plastic we current use is really not all that recyclable.
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:52 AM
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In Canada, some yogurt brands are available in pouches with a screw-on cap (example). I doubt they're recyclable, but the amount of plastic per gram of yogurt is probably less than a rigid container.

By the same reasoning of "the larger the container, the better the ratio" (is that true?), maybe you can look into wholesalers that serve the restaurant market but are open to the public.

Or, well, I guess you could make your own. Then it becomes a problem of sourcing the milk...

Last edited by Heracles; 04-30-2019 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:56 AM
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But you can buy a gallon of milk, and only a quart of yogurt, so that probably does reduce plastic use. I need to try making yogurt one of these days.
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:02 AM
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My two solutions that I tend to vary between are (my assumption is that you're buying the single-serve containers. I'm aware that may be wrong):

1) Make my own yogurt. I do this in my instantpot and it's very easy, but does take some planning. A gallon of milk makes enough yogurt for me for about 2 weeks - I drain it well to make it more of a greek-style yogurt. Scoop out the individual servings as I want them. If you tend to take yogurt elsewhere to eat, get some quality reusable containers and use those. I like fruit in mine, so I'll put some frozen fruit in there and by the time I'm ready to eat it, it's thawed.

2) buy a bigger container, then break it out into individual servings as needed as above. These containers also tend to be more reusable - better lids, better volume - so you can use them to pack lunch things (I find them good for salads) or as leftover containers.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:24 AM
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You might want to look at different brands and sizes... my wife is partial to White Mountain yogurt (she grew up with it in Austin), and it comes in glass jars with screw-on plastic lids. We just wash them out and reuse them for anything you can put in a glass jar- salad dressing, bulk popcorn, etc...
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Old 04-30-2019, 11:04 AM
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I haven't done it, but I don't think making your own yogurt is difficult. Then you can reuse the containers all you want. If you eat a lot of it, learning to make it and buying the necessary tools to do so is probably a good investment.
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Old 04-30-2019, 11:21 AM
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Instant-pot yogurt is indeed super-easy, but you have to plan it out. Each step takes less than five minutes of active work, but you have to:
1) Boil the milk (takes about 1 minute to set up)
2) Chill the milk (takes 1-2 minutes if you want to speed it up, otherwise no active time).
3) Add a spoonful of yogurt and set the timer (about 1-2 minutes)
4) Decant and strain the yogurt (about 5 minutes)
5) Put yogurt in 1 container, whey in another (about 5 minutes).

1 gallon of milk fits nicely in an instant-pot, and if you use the whey (like, to make bread or "buttermilk" pancakes, or as a smoothie liquid), you get a very economical product.

We switched to this method a few months ago, instead of buying about 8-10 single-servings of greek yogurt a week. My wife was skeptical at first, but she's completely won over now.
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Old 05-09-2019, 02:25 AM
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I'm not sure I'm going to make my own yoghurt (although thanks for the info on that), but I saw that someone discovered a type of plastic that can be truly recycled: PDK = poly(diketoenamine). Apparently it releases its bonds to various chemicals that are added to plastic to change its properties (making them flexible or stronger or whatever) with a dip in an acid bath. So the base material can be reused.

If it's like typical lab discoveries, it'll take 5 to 10 years to reach actual manufactured products, so don't hold your breath on this. And there's no guarantee it'll be able to replace all types of plastic out there. But even if it can replace the most commonly used ones, it'll be a big step forward.
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Last edited by dtilque; 05-09-2019 at 02:26 AM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Instant-pot yogurt is indeed super-easy, but you have to plan it out. Each step takes less than five minutes of active work, but you have to:
1) Boil the milk (takes about 1 minute to set up)
2) Chill the milk (takes 1-2 minutes if you want to speed it up, otherwise no active time).
3) Add a spoonful of yogurt and set the timer (about 1-2 minutes)
4) Decant and strain the yogurt (about 5 minutes)
5) Put yogurt in 1 container, whey in another (about 5 minutes).

1 gallon of milk fits nicely in an instant-pot, and if you use the whey (like, to make bread or "buttermilk" pancakes, or as a smoothie liquid), you get a very economical product.

We switched to this method a few months ago, instead of buying about 8-10 single-servings of greek yogurt a week. My wife was skeptical at first, but she's completely won over now.
What schedule do you use? When do you start each step? How much yogurt do you get from a gallon of milk?

Last edited by puzzlegal; 05-09-2019 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:00 AM
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Don't some of the national brands come in glass? I think it's mostly "french-style" like Yoplait's Oui range.

Last edited by MrDibble; 05-09-2019 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
What schedule do you use? When do you start each step? How much yogurt do you get from a gallon of milk?
1) Boil the milk (takes about 1 minute to set up): 7 pm.
2) Chill the milk (takes 1-2 minutes if you want to speed it up, otherwise no active time). 8 pm.
3) Add a spoonful of yogurt and set the timer (about 1-2 minutes) 9-10 pm.
4) Decant and strain the yogurt (about 5 minutes) 7 am the next morning.
5) Put yogurt in 1 container, whey in another (about 5 minutes). 5 pm that afternoon

Basically, do the first three steps before bed one night; next morning put it in the colanders; after work, put it in the containers.

We get about two quarts of very thick yogurt and two quarts of whey from 1 gallon milk. We use the whey in smoothies and bread and biscuits and such, so it doesn't go to waste.
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Old 05-09-2019, 01:44 PM
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Yogurt containers make great seed starters or, for the larger containers, transplanting pots. While we're at it, K cup style coffee containers make great seed starts as well and the used grounds make a great compost addition.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Don't some of the national brands come in glass? I think it's mostly "french-style" like Yoplait's Oui range.
Yes, and their lids are foil so it can all be recycled.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
1) Boil the milk (takes about 1 minute to set up): 7 pm.
2) Chill the milk (takes 1-2 minutes if you want to speed it up, otherwise no active time). 8 pm.
3) Add a spoonful of yogurt and set the timer (about 1-2 minutes) 9-10 pm.
4) Decant and strain the yogurt (about 5 minutes) 7 am the next morning.
5) Put yogurt in 1 container, whey in another (about 5 minutes). 5 pm that afternoon

Basically, do the first three steps before bed one night; next morning put it in the colanders; after work, put it in the containers.

We get about two quarts of very thick yogurt and two quarts of whey from 1 gallon milk. We use the whey in smoothies and bread and biscuits and such, so it doesn't go to waste.
Thanks. I tried this last weekend. Only I didn't stain the yogurt, because my husband prefers regular yogurt to strained yogurt.

I made it in a 1 quart mason jar, which barely fit in my 6 quart pot. I had to turn the wire thing upside down to be able to close the lid. I used my favorite brand of yogurt for the starter (a local specially brand) and my husband was kind enough to give me a blind taste test of what I'd made vs. the starter.

They were extremely similar. I plan to check prices today, but I doubt it's worth it. But I was pleased that I liked mine slightly more. It tasted fresher and less cooked. And except for having to be aware of it, it was pretty easy, with essentially no clean up (having made it in a jar.)
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
My other major plastic consumption is plastic bags, but I reduced that use by reusing the ones for produce until they wear out.
I bought reusable cotton mesh produce bags and bring them to the store with me. They have all sizes so I can bag anything from a couple of peppers to a pile of oranges. Saves about 100 of those little plastic bags a year, and these cotton ones are probably going to last at least a couple of decades.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:18 PM
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Plastic yogurt containers can be reused. We (well, mainly my wife) buy yogurt in largest containers possible, and wash them out to reuse. The most common use is as a food container - for people (family) to take leftover food when they come for meals.

Last edited by scr4; 05-19-2019 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:02 PM
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If I had a need for containers of about that size, I'd reuse them. But the way I eat, I don't generate leftovers.

What I did decide to do is reduce the amount of yoghurt I eat. I was eating lots and lots of yoghurt, and I realized it was probably too much. There's lots of sugar in it, probably too much in the quantities I was eating.
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Last edited by dtilque; 05-19-2019 at 02:04 PM.
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