Living greener with my new yogurt maker

  • Jan. 18, 2008 1:00 p.m.

Submitted by Sheila Karrow-Do you ever think about which Christmas presents are green and which presents colour the earth with less hospitable hues? This year, I received the greenest Christmas present ever. Disguised in styrofoam and plastic, my new yogurt maker has made my life greener in many ways. This discovery began shortly after unwrapping the present which was given to me by a dear friend. The first thing I did, not surprisingly, was to make some yogurt. The directions read: heat milk to 180 degrees, let cool until temperature drops to 110 degrees, then add yogurt culture, stir and let sit in your yogurt maker for four hours. Since moving to Haida Gwaii from Ontario almost four years ago now, our family has tried to change our lifestyle by living healthier and fuller lives. We began this journey by hanging our first clothes line, gathering firewood and more recently, canning vegetables from our garden. We have learned the rewards of making jam from a variety of local berries and preparing meals from venison, salmon and shellfish. Many people are aware of the 100 mile diet and the great challenge we face as islanders, to live sustainably. There are simple changes we can make, like walking instead of driving short distances, buying locally produced food and using a clothes line. (Did you know that running one clothes dryer is equivalent to using 77 laptops?) But what about the harder choices: where we live and work, using fossil fuels, and what we purchase from stores?My New Year’s resolution was the same this year as it has been for the past four years: to tread upon this earth a little lighter. Well my friends, the biggest change this year so far, is our yogurt maker.This plastic container is simple in many ways. It does not require electricity, except for the heating of the milk, which you could do over a wood stove if necessary. It produces a healthy product with active culture, and the benefits to this food are endless. For myself, I make a berry smoothie each morning and use this “almost organic” yogurt to begin my day. The greatest benefit of this homemade yogurt went unnoticed until I opened my cupboard and discovered that used yogurt containers did not fall out onto my floor. Unbelievable, but true, this Styrofoam coated plastic container has saved me from buying three containers of yogurt a week. Considering we have lived here for about three and a half years, that is a potential savings of 546 yogurt containers. We still buy the milk to make this yogurt but the milk container is recyclable here. From now on, our family will not be buying yogurt. Just think of all the yogurt containers we will no longer be accumulating. I have tried to find uses for these yogurt containers: water containers for painting classes, donations to schools, storing crafts and tools. but eventually you know where they go. Unless the plastic is marked as number 2 on the bottom, which is recyclable, it will end up as landfill on our island. And, did you know that last summer, the dairy companies cleverly designed a smaller but taller container of 650 ml for the original 750 ml container? This happened right under our noses and many of us did not even notice the lesson on size and volume. Yes, the new ones do look larger but they hold 100 ml less yogurt. The size reduction meant less yogurt for more money, resulting in more plastic packaging per product. As a consumer, I was frustrated by a feeling of helplessness, knowing there was nothing I could do about this change. Well, no more my friends, because now I have a green Christmas present. Although very white in its appearance, my green yogurt maker is sure to provide a healthy product (fewer corn derivatives!) and drastically reduce our household waste. Now I am going on a search for more green products. Care to join me?

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