5 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste in Your Kitchen
In the United States, approximately one pound of food per person per person is thrown away every single day. This amounts to about 103 million tons of food waste, or nearly 40% of our entire food supply. Food is the number one item found in our landfills, accounting for about 24%.
Obviously, something needs to change. These statistics are daunting, but they should not discourage us from taking small steps to lessen the environmental, economical, and sociological impact of food waste.
The logical place for us to start in our quest to reduce food waste is in the kitchen. You may find that you have already implemented steps toward a zero-waste kitchen, including conscious consumerism and repurposing containers. If you are looking for further ways to reduce waste in your kitchen, consider the following easy steps to start your journey toward minimalism and sustainability.
Buy in Bulk
This does not mean stocking up on items from Costco! When we say “buy in bulk,” we are referring to the bins filled with dry goods like lentils, rice, and nuts at the grocery store. Purchasing items in bulk reduces waste by skipping the cardboard and plastic associated with pre-packaged items. On that note, don’t forget to bring your own reusable container for your bulk items and skip those single-use plastic baggies! Helpful hint: you will be charged by weight, so weigh your container before you fill it up so your cashier can deduct this from the final price.
If your local grocery store does not offer an appreciable bulk section, there are loads of options online! Saffi Foods, for example, produces bulk olive oil and vinegars in reusable glass bottles. The Wally Shop offers pantry items, beauty products, and cleaning products sustainably and all in reusable glass containers.
Get Creative With Containers
Coffee tins, jelly jars, wine bottles-the sky’s the limit when it comes to repurposing things in the kitchen! Get used to holding on to non-plastic containers, even if you don’t have a purpose for them yet. I promise you, you will! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Wine Bottles- sterilize these and use them to store your bulk olive oil and vinegars. If they do not have a twist-top, invest in a few reusable wine stoppers to seal them.
- Coffee Tins-these are great for dry pantry items, like rice, beans, and lentils. Keep a little bamboo scoop inside for easy measuring.
- Jelly Jars-if you make your own pet food or baby food, these are great for storage in the fridge. You can also use them for smaller pantry items, like chia seeds or flax.
- Plastic Juice Bottles-sometimes, plastic is unavoidable. But a durable plastic container, like an orange juice bottle, can have myriad uses! Fill them up with bulk cereals, pasta, or simply refill them with more juice.
Try Solid Soaps
As far as I know, there is no rule that says dish soap has to be liquid! Try switching to a bar version of dish soap to reduce plastic waste. If you are a soaper, you can try our recipe for a kitchen bar soap with castor oil and coconut oil – it has a gorgeous lather and the coconut oil cuts through grease as well as any liquid soap.
Re-use Kitchen Scraps
Fruit and vegetable peelings account for a high percentage of landfill waste. Before you toss them out, think of a way you might use them again. Vegetable ends and peelings, like carrot peels, onion and garlic paper, and celery butts can be boiled with salt and herbs to make a flavorful stock. Citrus peels might be infused in your homemade cleaning products to give a natural scent and added antimicrobial activity.
Additionally, did you know that many parts of your unwanted food scraps can be used to grow whole new vegetables? Potatoes, leeks, onions, cabbages, and certain herbs are just a few things you can grow from scraps.
Try Beeswax or Vegan Food Wraps
Cling film has become ubiquitous in the American kitchen, but, as a single-use plastic, it is a major contributor to microplastic pollution. Luckily, there are alternatives to plastic wrap that are sustainable and prettier! These adorable wraps are soaked in beeswax, which gives them flexibility and sealing ability comparable to cling film. Their fun patterns also add a whimsical touch to a family picnic. This company also offers a vegan option made with soy and candelilla wax.
Going zero-waste can seem intimidating at first, but it is actually an instinctive process. We, as humans, are naturally creative and many of us already have a desire to make, save, and reuse things. The beauty of zero-waste is that it can be 100% tailored to you and your lifestyle. It can be thrilling to find new ways to reduce your waste, and you may just find a creative outlet you didn’t know you needed!