How to Create a Zero Waste Kitchen
You just finished watching a documentary about the environment, how the usage of plastics is affecting the ecosystem and the amount of waste we are dumping into our landfills. You talk to your friends about it, share the documentary on social media, encourage people to stop using plastics, but what next?
Have you ever wondered how you can use less around the house? There are many small changes you can make to ensure you are using less resources. We do want to know that in order to see real environmental changes this will come from a governmental, corporate and global level, we do feel the mindfully using less can also help the planet in a small way. Let's start with the kitchen, which is one of our favorite parts of the house at Supra Endura. It is also one of the places where most of the household waste is produced! If you don’t believe me, keep reading...
On an average, an American family of four throws away $1500 worth of food every year. Annual food waste in America is estimated to be approximately $161 billion in value. Majority of the discarded food is sent to landfills. This accounts to about 24.1% of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).
Wow, but what does zero waste kitchen even mean?
A zero-waste kitchen is a way of living where we use products that are reusable and compostable. Any waste we create like food scrapes we compost (Using the rich nutrients to turn into soil). While zero waste can feel like a hard dream to achieve, no worries, we are also big fans of low waste kitchens and low waste lifestyles.
Of course, it’s not possible to change everything in one day. It can be a little overwhelming in the beginning but, if we start doing this consciously and if we are mindful of the things we use, we can easily turn this around.
Here are some ways to reduce our environmental footprint in our kitchen.
- Always make a list and plan ahead
Yes! This might sound basic, but this is the first step we can do to reduce wastage in the kitchen. We always end up buying more groceries than we require. We tend to forget what’s already in our refrigerator and buy extra just to be sure. I would always buy extra vegetables and fruits just in case something goes wrong. This caused a huge mess in my refrigerator. I wouldn’t know where they are. So, I just used whatever produce is in the front. The ones at the back were inevitably spoiled and ended up in the trash! Now, I make a list every time I go to the store and buy only what I need. This reduces waste and saves so much money!
This might definitely take some time in the beginning but remember, beginnings are always the hardest part! Once you start planning, your whole week becomes much easier. You know what you are going to cook for every meal so, you are actually saving a lot of time instead of trying to think what you have to cook. You are halfway there when you plan your meals ahead. Once you get used to this step everything else is like a breeze
When you know what you are going to make, you know what you would need, and this helps in including only the items you would need in the list.
- Buy in bulk and go local
Buying in bulk can actually eliminate a lot of waste. When you buy in small amounts, you must keep going back for more. This means more packaging materials which results in more waste.
Most grocery stores have a dedicated aisle for nuts, granola, pulses etc. You will be surprised at the options available. Go prepared with your own jars and containers instead of using the single use plastic container or bags available at the store.
Tip: Let the person at the counter know you are using your own container so they can compensate for the weight of the container.
Shopping for produce from farmer’s market near you is another great way to eliminate waste. If you are wondering how? Keep reading!
When you buy locally, there is a decrease in food miles. Food miles is a term used to quantify the distance the food has to travel to make it to your nearby supermarket. The more food miles the more harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Many local farm use less pesticides, hormones and allow livestock to have a healthier life.
3. Eliminate plastics while prepping your meals
Prepping your meals is the easiest way to save time and reduce waste. This can help you even if you haven’t planned your meals. Try chopping the vegetables and fruits you use everyday beforehand. This gives you the breathing time you need on a busy morning!
But wait! That’s not all. Always store your prepped meals in a container, preferably glass. Avoid zip locks at all costs. Imagine the number of plastic bags we would cut down if we used reusable containers.
It’s also high time that we ditch using cling wraps and switch to beeswax wraps instead. There are several advantages when it comes to eliminating plastics from our kitchen. Cling wraps or any other plastic containers for that matter can have adverse effects on our health. The chemicals from the storage boxes and wraps can leach into our food and beverages especially when exposed to heat. Several reports connect this to cancer, infertility, and fetal developmental issues.
On the other hand, cling wraps are not reusable. Recycling it is much more expensive than producing it. Plastic bags can take anywhere between 10-20 years to decompose, while the plastic bottles take up to 450 years! The World Health Organization (WHO) reports say that they end up in landfills and release a highly toxic chemicals named dioxin.
Beeswax wraps are not only an excellent alternative but are also safe for us as well as the environment as they are biodegradable.
Another best part about them is, they come in a wide range of options, adding a pop of color and a designer touch to your kitchen
4. Save your energy!
Yes, you read that right. Electricity, water, and gas are an integral part of your kitchen. When used in the right way, you can save a lot of energy. Here are some ways to save energy
- Use only the energy you need.
- Be mindful when using your heat or stove top. When you use small pans on large burners, the energy is technically going into the air and not the cookware. So, use smaller burners for smaller pans and larger burner for larger pans.
- Always turn the lights when you are done.
- Let’s face it, we live in a Covid world, and we wash our hands all the time. That’s a non-negotiable! Duh! But what happens while you are rubbing the soap back and forth? Most of us keep the water running. I am guilty of that too! Imagine the amount of water that’s wasted. This can be avoided as well.
- Use energy saving appliances.
5. Repurpose the leftovers & freeze food
For certain foods, freezing might not be an option. In that case, use the leftovers in a different recipe. If you have leftover stir-fry, just put it on a bread and grill it and you have a tasty and healthy home-made grilled sandwich. They can also be used on tortillas to make yummy quesadillas. Your creativity is your best friend here. Shake them up a bit and create your own recipes!
You can plan, plan and plan but let’s face it somedays are just so difficult. Even after so much meal planning, there is some food waste. You can always save the food by refrigerating and use the next day. Certain foods can also be frozen. I always make big batches of pasta and freeze them as you never know when you would have a craving for pasta! This helps especially in times when you have had a long day, but you know you can always count on the food you have stored in the freezer. This technique can be applied to a variety of food items.
6. Clean up using reusable, eco-friendly, and non-toxic products.
Another great way to transform your kitchen to a zero-waste kitchen is by using Swedish Dishcloths. They can be used to wash vessels, clean your counter tops, and wipe away spills. They are a great replacement to paper towels, sponges, and wash cloths in your kitchen. The best thing about Swedish Dishcloths is that they are compostable and 100% biodegradable. They can last anywhere between 9 to 12 months. They never see landfills in their lifetime!
Next comes eco-friendly soaps and dishes. Eco friendly soaps are non-toxic, have sustainable materials and use reusable packaging. Some even use plant-based ingredients. Using soap bars instead of liquid soap and wooden soap dishes instead of plastic dishes are another option. Eco friendly soaps are biodegradable and recyclable.
Great, isn’t it?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to adapting to a zero waste/ low waste kitchen. Imagine the amount of food, groceries, and money a single family can save just by using these tips.
It can seem hard in the beginning but, trust me it gets easier with time. Every little step taken today to save our Environment is going to make the world a better place to live in for our future generations.