Guide to a zero-waste kitchen
The goal with the zero-waste movement, as its name says is to produce no waste, but for us, it entails many other aspects that affect our environment. Our main goal is for our everyday lives to be the least harmful as possible to our surroundings.
So what we focus on are the following things; our carbon footprint, plastic consumption, and food waste.
How to reduce your carbon footprint?
The first thing is basic (although not always possible for everyone) to try to buy from nearby shops, and avoid using a car as much as you can. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables that are produced locally and avoid produce that comes from other parts of the world. Also, animal farming is responsible for 13-18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, and although it may not seem much, studies show that reducing meat consumption can help stop global warming. On another note, by switching from paper towels to reusable cloth ones you also stop trees from being cut.
How to avoid plastic pollution?
For starters, always carry a reusable bag with you, in many shops they no longer give out plastic bags but even if they do just always have a bag with you, reusable is always the best option. When it comes to buying food the best way to go is to buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables and staples in bulk, but that’s not always an option for everyone, if so buy as much as you can in glass or paper or canned. When you can’t avoid plastic at least try to buy in bigger quantities to use less of it, individual packages are simply the worst. A tip to consume less packaged food is to start by avoiding pre-made meals and making things from scratch. And when you do start making things from scratch choose sustainable storage options for your food.
There is no need to go out and buy new shiny things, use what you have as much as you can, we even use big yogurt containers as Tupperware. When what you have breaks or is no longer usable then buy thoughtfully, switch from plastic to glass, aluminum or silicone. Stop buying film wrap and switch to beeswax wraps that are natural.
How to reduce your food waste?
Planning, planning out meals ahead of time helps buy fewer ingredients and make sure they get all used up. As a general norm, when you stop buying cut-up vegetables and fruit wrapped in plastic you might find yourself with a whole pumpkin or papaya and not know what to do with them, the solution is to freeze or make preserves.
Be creative with recipes, if it’s apple season make apple pie, or apple crumble, apple jam, etc. Think of how our ancestors used to do it; before tomatoes were sold in the supermarket all year long when it was tomato season they would make tomato sauce or canned tomatoes and keep them for the rest of the year, that’s the principle to follow, adapted to your needs and available time, of course.
Use up as much as you can, some of the vegetable scraps we normally throw away can be used to make broth for example or you can try to regrow them. Do some research and find what you can do with scraps, banana peels, for example, are great fertilizers when you put them in water for a week.
And when all that fails (or there is really no possible way of using something up, compost it. Organic waste that goes to landfills generates methane, which is 25 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot
Always follow the 5 R’s to be a responsible consumer, use what you have as much as you can, try to buy only what is necessary, if you can buy second hand, and remember recycling is a last resort.