I don’t think that being 100 % zero waste in the kitchen is feasible for the majority of people. We are doing our best but let’s be realistic, we cannot produce ZERO waste. The goal is rather to reduce the amount of waste we are generating to as little as possible.
The kitchen is especially a difficult place to tackle because consuming food can create significant amounts of waste if we aren’t careful.
Of course, a large part of food waste happens during the production process and transportation, but we don’t have power over it.
If we could reduce the amount of waste we produce downstream, we would already make a huge impact.
Here, I’m writing about 10 ways you can reduce your waste in the kitchen!
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1 – Bring your own bags with you
When you go grocery shopping, bring your own reusable bags with you and don’t collect new plastic bags.
Ditching plastic bags is a great way to reduce waste and go green while shopping for food.
But, if you already own plastic bags that you’ve saved, this is a great opportunity to reuse them for your produce. You don’t necessarily need to buy a reusable cotton bag, use what you have.
You can also DIY your own with fabric that you have around the house. There are many tutorials online, and they are super easy to do.
You don’t need advanced sewing skills to create them. A regular piece of fabric, an old t-shirt, or even a pillowcase will do the trick!
2 – Buy package-free food when you can
A lot of people don’t have access to bulk stores, so I’m not including this tip since it would be useless to many people.
However, numerous grocery stores have their own bulk sections where you can buy unpackaged food.
In case you forgot them, there will most likely be some paper bags for you to use but it’s not ideal. But, it is still better than buying something packaged in plastic.
You can also buy package-free items in the fruit and vegetable section of your grocery store.
All stores are different but I think you can always find some fruits and veggies that aren’t prepackaged. If you do, use your own bags or directly put them in your cart.
3 – Go to the farmers’ market
Going for your fresh fruits and veggies to the farmers’ market is a great way to reduce your waste for several reasons.
It is easier for you to get almost everything package-free. You will be able to directly put your fruits and vegetables into your bags.
The food at a farmers’ market is also often local and seasonal. So, this food won’t have to travel huge distances to come to your plate.
This reduces the amounts of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. Of course, there are also tropical fruits and non-seasonal produce.
But, generally speaking, most of the things are local and seasonal food at farmers’ markets.
4 – Prefer alternatives to plastic
Realistically, many food items cannot be found package-free. A great thing to do in this case is to avoid those wrapped in plastic.
Reducing your plastic consumption is one of the best ways to help the environment while shopping for food.
This means that you should look for alternatives such as glass, cardboard, aluminum, or metal.
Since these materials are recyclable, it is better to buy something in those materials rather than in plastic.
For instance, I prefer to buy canned goods in metal or glass than to buy frozen food that comes in plastic. Just make sure you recycle the packaging afterward.
5 – Buy in bulk
I am not talking about bulk stores here. Of course, if those are an option for you, go there because that is the best thing you can do.
But if you don’t have any around, try to buy the biggest version of the item. For instance, if you need to buy a bag of rice, take the biggest one that is available.
For a given quantity of food, you will be using less plastic packaging than if you bought several of the smaller options.
However, only do that if you know for sure that you are going to eat it entirely. Otherwise, it isn’t worth it and will end up producing even more waste.
6 – Store your food in glass containers
Try avoiding plastic and aluminum foils. Those are disposable and you won’t even be able to recycle them.
On the other hand, glass is an amazing material to store your food and to make it last longer since it is air-tight.
You can put anything in a glass jar or a glass container, like your leftovers or half-eaten fruits.
The great thing about glass containers is that you can put them in the dishwasher, and they are sturdy.
You can also have them for free by reusing glass jars in which your food comes in. You’ll just need to wash them, and they’re good to be used again.
Glass jars can be put in the freezer, so it is convenient to store your food in different ways.
7 – Have a vegetable garden and make your own food
If you have the chance to have a garden, why not start a vegetable garden? You can also plant some fruit trees.
At my parents’ house, they have a plum tree and two cherry trees. The great thing is that my parents have never had to buy any cherries or plums because they have so many each year.
They even give several bags to their neighbors because they cannot eat them all. We also planted some basil and chive.
A balcony is a great place to start a small vegetable garden as well!
Growing your own food will help you be in control of the production process, which saves food from going to waste.
Unfortunately, many people don’t have any garden or balcony, so it is more difficult for them. If that is the case for you, you can still make a lot of food on your own.
You can make plant-based milk, homemade bread, cakes… You can regrow some vegetables such as leeks or onions without needing a garden to do so.
8 – Low waste tea and coffee
If you are a tea drinker, a super easy zero waste tip is to buy loose leaf tea. There are many sorts out there.
You just need to buy a tea strainer, which is super affordable. Then, you put tea leaves in it and let it sit for several minutes, like with normal tea bags.
For your coffee, don’t use disposable filters or capsules. They are so wasteful since you need to throw them away after each use.
Instead, consider switching to a French press. You just need to pour boiling water on your ground coffee, press the plunger down, and there you have your zero waste coffee!
Another great alternative you might look for is reusable filters. They work the same way as disposable ones, but you can reuse them, which saves you a ton of money and reduces waste in the kitchen.
9 – Don’t throw away food
This tip is obvious when it comes to reducing the amount of waste we are producing in the kitchen.
However, too many people still end up throwing food away. Of course, it can happen to anyone. But there are ways to prevent it.
First, it’s important to regularly assess what food you own in your fridge and your pantry.
Make sure nothing is about to go bad or expire. If a fruit or vegetable is turning bad, try eating it now or freeze it.
Check expiration dates regularly to make sure you eat everything on time.
Also, for the majority of food, eating it several days after the expiration date is possible, just make sure there’s no weird color or smell.
But please don’t do that with meat and fish because it can get dangerous!
If you see something that you know you aren’t going to eat, consider donating it to a food bank or friends and family.
Using up the food you have before buying the same again is also a great way to avoid over accumulating food, and reduce waste in the kitchen.
10 – Reuse and compost your food scraps
There are many ways to reuse food scraps. When you’re cooking vegetables, keep the parts that you cannot eat, you’ll be able to make vegetable broth with them.
To make it, you need to heat these scraps in a pot with water. Then, you wait until it boils and let it simmer for an hour.
When it is done, all you have to do is filter out the scraps and there you have your veggie broth done.
This is great because it gives your vegetables one more use, and you also don’t have to buy broth anymore. You already have everything you need!
Another way to reuse food scraps is to keep lemon peels and use them to create DIY cleaners.
You can use lemon and orange rinds to flavor your vinegar-based cleaner, by chopping them up and putting them in the solution. It also helps with removing grease in the kitchen.
Food scraps can also be used to dye your clothes, isn’t it amazing?! Repurposing food scraps is one of my favorite ways to reduce waste in the kitchen!
Once you are done with food scraps, whether you could reuse them or not, try composting them if you can. That way, they don’t end up in landfills.
It is easier when you have a garden but you can do it in an apartment as well by installing a worm bin.
If you have one, make sure you keep a good mix of carbon and nitrogen. This means that you should aim to have about 50% of food scraps in it and 50% of paper, cardboard, or dry leaves.
Those were 10 ways to reduce waste in the kitchen!
We can lower the amount of waste that is generated in the kitchen in various ways. It involves directly diverting waste from going to landfill.
But it also implies that we need to reduce the number of packaging that is being used to wrap our food.
If we all tried to do our best to reduce waste in the kitchen, tons and tons of waste would be diverted from landfills. That would be amazing!
Tell me, what are your favorite ways to reduce waste in the kitchen?