It’s the 3rd of September & that means it’s Zero Waste Week!
Given that waste reduction is a passion of mine, I have done quite a lot to reduce the waste my family produces. I’ve swapped disposables for the usual suspects: solid hair products/deodorant, reusable menstrual products, a safety razor, bamboo toothbrush, bar soap & handmade facial wipes for my handmade skin care.
For this post however, I will be focussing on what you can do to reduce waste in your own kitchen.
Some strategies for avoiding waste in this area are obvious, like using whole ingredients to avoid packaging. Others aren’t quite so obvious but are definitely gaining traction thanks to social media & a number of emerging eco-conscious brands & online stores.
Food waste that goes to landfill produces an alarming amount of methane which is not ideal. If you can compost at home then this is an easy change to make. However if you’re living in a flat or somewhere without a garden this is more difficult. It is possible for some of us though.
Some farmers markets have compost collection sites or you can sometimes find a local farmer who will compost your food waste for you. You could even try to contact any local institutions that teach horticulture as they may compost on site.
If the idea of hanging onto your scraps for a week or longer doesn’t appeal to you, you can keep it in a container in the freezer to not only stop it deteriorating, but also keep it out of sight.
Keepin’ it fresh!
If you’re anything like me using your crisper isn’t going to guarantee your food doesn’t go to waste. I’m a shocker and would generally just chuck the new stuff on top of the old stuff, or forget what I’ve got. Eventually I’d find something liquid at the bottom that is no longer recognisable as actual food. I do believe that you really need to find solutions that work for you so this is what we came up with. It works a treat & we’ve had very little waste since.
We put our fresh food into big plastic containers we already had. There is a trick to making this work though. You need to place a clean tea towel at the bottom of the container & remove the seal so your food can breath. If you don’t, you end up losing food just as quickly as if you had no container at all. Get this right though & your fruit and veg will last one to two weeks. Sometimes longer. You can also pull out the entire container each time you cook so you can see exactly what you’ve got & what needs to be used up first. I absolutely love this strategy & will never go back to a crisper again.
How you purchase your food can make a really big difference to your waste production.
Buying fresh food is a great way to avoid packaging but it’s not always possible. Therefore it’s important to be mindful of the type of packaging your food comes in. Make sure you buy products in recyclable or reusable packaging such as tin cans/glass jars over plastics if it’s possible.
Buying from bulk stores where you can is a fantastic way to avoid packaging all together. I have a fantastic shop nice & close where I can buy not just dry goods in bulk but tea, coffee, cleaning products, oils & butters (both edible & for skin care), freshly ground peanut butter & local yoghurt as well. We have cut out a lot of our waste doing this. I use my own bulk bags & use repurposed glass jars (the shop will tare them for you on site).
We are even able to purchase milk from a small local, ethical dairy farm in glass bottles. The bottles are returned for a small monetary return that you can put towards your next purchase. It’s a fantastic system that means our milk usage no longer produces any waste at all.
Buying local is a really great way of not only supporting your community, but also avoiding emissions produced by transporting products from elsewhere in your country, or from overseas.
Reuse & recycle
This is a biggie too. Reusing and recycling all you can diverts quite a lot of waste from landfill. Especially if you are making a conscious effort to choose recyclable packaging. Many supermarkets are even recycling soft plastics now and making new plastic bags from them. Of course it’s best to avoid plastics altogether, however some products just aren’t available in alternative packaging.
Do what you can
Really, you can only do what you can. No one (or very few people) are 100% waste free. If we all make small changes & do what we can it will make a big difference to overall waste production. It’s really quite easy once you get the hang of it. It sounds dramatic but we really do hold the fate of the world in our hands. What we do counts.
If you have any other great tips please add them to the comments below. If we all help each other we can move mountains.