For most of us, living a zero-waste lifestyle seems next to impossible. But, if you’re determined to do your bit and save the environment, you could start with easy, small steps in the kitchen which can cut down on waste by at least 50-90%.
Remember, the kitchen is a waste-producing hub, so reducing waste in your kitchen is a great way to start. We have listed ten easy tips for a zero-waste kitchen. Implementing just a few of them will help you move towards sustainable living.
Carry reusable jars, boxes, and bags
We’ve already heard about the dangers of using plastic. But we still rely on plastic materials like boxes and bags to get things done faster. If you are not into the habit of carrying reusable bags and boxes then it’s time to start. All it takes is a bit of adjustment and planning. You need to be prepared before you go out shopping. Make a list of the number of items you need to purchase. By doing this, you will know how many boxes, bags, or jars you need to carry with you.
Grow your own herbs
You may find it hard to purchase fresh, package-free herbs like coriander, basil, parsley, and thyme. Hence, growing your leafy herbs is one of the best things you can do if you’re going the zero-waste way. Herbs are easy to grow and can be done even in small spaces. You can grow them in a pot or a planter box to save on plastic packaging.
Use your food scraps for zero-waste recipes
One great way to reduce food wastage is by making maximum use of your food scraps. Being resourceful is the key when you’re looking for zero-waste kitchen options. Other than making vegetable broth, you can also try different types of recipes available online.
Make sure to finish the food on your plate
An important step to maintain a zero-waste kitchen is to finish the food on the plate. This helps in a big way when it comes to reducing food wastage.
Here are a few tips for you:
- Go for smaller portions. Of course, you can go for a second or third helping.
- Try to finish off the leftovers the next day.
- If you find that you have too much leftover food, share it with family, friends, or neighbours.
- Check expiry dates on food to avoid wastage. You can also set reminders on your phone to ensure that you use up any items before their expiry dates.
Compost leftover food scraps
For food scraps that cannot be used to make interesting recipes, composting is the next best thing to do. It is a process where organic matter is turned into nutrients that are great for plants. You can learn how to start composting here.
Try the zero-waste food prep and cooking method
One of the most challenging things you’ll come across when trying to go the no-waste way is trying to food prep. It’s not possible to get everything in bulk and sometimes you just have to opt for packaged food. At this juncture, you’ve got two options:
- You compromise and convince yourself that you are doing your best.
- You roll those sleeves up and master the zero-waste food prep and cooking technique.
If you plan to go with the second option, it’s going to be hard at first but, with time and patience, you can master it. Food preparation involves making your food from scratch. It’s easy to simply pick packaged food from the store, but the benefits of making food from scratch are not only affordable but a healthy option as well. So, you may have to take care of things like fermenting, blending, and soaking.
Getting things done well in advance and planning ahead of time are great ways to manage this lifestyle. Another advantage is that you get to know exactly what goes into the food – no additives, preservatives, and unhealthy ingredients.
Purchase food items in bulk
This is a great solution especially if you have a pantry section where you can store food items. One way you can go about this is to start collecting glass jars that you can recycle to store your bulk food items. Make sure to wash the jars well by soaking them in hot water to get rid of any smell and grease; it also helps to get stubborn labels off.
The next step is to label your jars and mention the expiry dates to eliminate unnecessary and impulsive shopping as you’ll only purchase what you need to fill up the jars.
You can stack up on things like nuts, oats, lentils, flours, pasta, rice, dried fruits, spices, herbs, sugars, oils, teas, syrups, and cleaning products that you can buy in bulk and store. This also gets rid of unwanted packaging that comes with every small purchase.
Sustainable cleaning hacks
Kitchen cleaning products usually include brushes, cloths, sponges, and detergents. Unfortunately, most brushes and sponges available in supermarkets are mostly made using plastic. While cleaning brands are making an effort to improve by switching to more natural materials, they still come in plastic bottles. Try to buy cleaning liquids in bulk and then refill your bottles for everyday use.
Some of the cleaning products you can purchase in bulk are laundry liquid and powder, dishwasher powder, dishwashing liquid, disinfectant, all-purpose cleaner, white vinegar, and bathroom cleaner. You can also get your hands on biodegradable brushes made from coconut, bamboo handles, gourd loofah, sisal, walnut fibers, loofah, and palm fibers.
Watch your coffee and tea waste
Coffee pods, tea bags, and takeaway cups are either made of or packaged using plastic. This is unsustainable and wasteful. Hence, you can try out some easy tips like replacing tea bags with bulk loose leaf tea or purchasing whole or ground coffee beans in bulk or large packets.
Another great approach to zero-waste is to apply minimalism principles when it comes to your kitchen. Having fewer items means fewer lifecycles and this ultimately leads to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Kitchen gadgets are great. They save time and energy, but to be honest, how many of those tools and gadgets do we regularly use? If you have too many things piled up in your drawers and cabinets that are taking space and collecting dust, then this means it’s time to let them go. You can put the unnecessary items in a box that you can donate or give them to others who may need them.
These were ten of the easiest zero-waste tips you can follow for sustainable living. At first, this may be stressful and frustrating, but the idea is to keep moving in the right direction and you will find that things get much easier with patience and time.
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