Food waste, from our daily eating patterns, it’s estimated, 50% of all produce in the US alone gets tossed out, that’s an annual 60 million tons of produce worth $160 billion. Shocked? That’s why having a mandate for a zero waste kitchen makes sense.
Wasted food hits at about 20% of our waste stream. And then there is the disposable plates, forks, spoons, plastic clam shells, coffee cups and lids, plastic bags, and more. Oh boy and then there is the element that food has been shipped in single-use packaging, like plastic containers and plastic-coated cardboard boxes. So let’s get down to the business of shifting to make a zero waste kitchen our goal.
Par down cleaning options
How many products do you use to clean your kitchen? The five Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot) are perfect when applied to the kitchen. An all-purpose cleaner does the trick.
The zero waste kitchen is never complete without the mason jar. Wash and reuse jars that foods like peanut butter, pickles, and spaghetti sauce come in. This will build your mason jar collection on the cheap. Check out thrift store for more size varieties.
Keep these containers and use them in place of disposable snack bags, for storing leftovers, and the like. Labeling them can help with organization too.
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Glass or metal storage and to-go containers
Store your food right and tight with reusable options such as metal or glass containers. If you’re taking your food to-go and intend to microwave later, glass might be a better option. If you are more concerned about weight, go with the metal containers.
Compostable and recyclable dish washing tools
Cleaning should not create more waste. Some great ideas to check out options such as this wooden dish brush with replaceable heads, copper sponges for scrubbing away cooked-on food on your pans and cookie sheets, or try using a hand towel made of 100% natural materials such as cotton – the dish brush and towel are 100% compostable and the sponge is 100% recyclable once they all get too funky to be trusted to clean anymore.
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If you make a 1-2 week plan with recipes you can use the similar ingredients in and freeze some then you will limit the amount of food waste.
Shop at local farmers markets
Most farmers markets don’t package items and are not using abundances of plastics, wraps and packaging and many if you go to the organic markets are also avoiding pesticides so your produce is safer and fresher generally too. Many will reuse the berry boxes and egg cartons as well on your return
Shop with a grocery list
This can help you save funds and food waste. Have a plan, and a strategy for shopping.
Bring reusable containers
Some places like Bulk Barn have implemented Reusable Container Programs
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Be conscious what you buy
Work towards buying products with no or less packaging. And if you meal plan a great solution is making some of the products that the option is only in plastic packaging. For example humous, sauces, and many things that could easily make in bulk and freeze. It takes organizing and time but in the long run, you and your family will be healthier, eating cleaner foods, wasting less.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk not only saves you money, but it also uses less packaging and many bulk items allow you to only buy what you need without wasting that which you don’t need. Bulk purchases also help you use more dry goods as they are non-perishable so there is less waste overall.
The ditch list
- Wash disposable sandwich bags or better yet get stainless steel lunch boxes and skip the plastic.
- Wash disposable cutlery or better yet get yourself and the family a bamboo reusable cutlery kit for their lunch boxes.
- Reuse aluminum foil or better yet find alternatives like bees wax wraps to store things in.
- Ditch disposable straws and get a set of stainless steel or bamboo ones and re-wash them after each use.
- Ditch plastic wrap and baggies and get yourself a set of bees wax wraps, bags and clothes that will cover you off for anything in the kitchen.
- Line small garbage cans with bread bags.
- Use bread bags, cotton, or linen bags for carrying snacks, compostables, and recyclable dish washing tools instead of plastic.
- Instead of paper towels and paper napkins switch to cotton napkins and cloth cleaning towels.