Finally moving into a home of our own is exciting for so many reasons. I am excited to finally be able to paint walls a color of my choosing, design the kitchen I love, and create a great workspace for myself. One of the things I am most excited about is finally being able to reduce the waste that I produce in my kitchen.
I know that I didn’t need a big move to begin my journey of reducing waste in my home, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to start fresh and reimagine my approach to grocery shopping and food storage. I have been making slow progress already, but none of the changes that I have made really seemed to stick.
I realized after a conversation with a friend that what I really needed to change was my mindset towards how I prepare my food from a waste standpoint. I had this idea that I would switch to a few sustainable alternatives and it would magically just happen, I would have a zero waste kitchen. But I realized that I need to change my routine. I need to slow down to do things the right way. Being prepared is a huge part of keeping my grocery shopping and food storage sustainable. Waste is a by product of convenience. It will be less convenient for me to focus on low waste options, but I am still going for it.
A huge part for me in finding success in my quest for lower waste, is accepting that some things will take more time and creating a routine that incorporates that. In the spirit of preparation and planning. I have created this list of 5 Ways To Reduce Waste In Your Kitchen.
1. Reusable grocery bags + produce bags - This is an area that I have already been working towards. It is such an easy thing to do but I have found it hard to be consistent with! Ultimately it comes down to taking the time to be prepared. Instead of flying out the door last minute with a million other things on my mind, if I can take the time to make sure I am prepared with my reusable bags, then I can carry out my goal of a more sustainable grocery trip. Better yet, if I could make the routine of taking the time to put the bags back in my car after they are emptied then they will be ready to go the next time I need them.
2. More sustainable food storage - There are a lot of ways to be more sustainable with food storage. The first step I am going to take is replacing the ziplock bags that I pack in my husband’s lunch with bee’s wrap (I am ordering mine from (www.beeswrap.com). Bee’s wrap is a natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage. Honestly guys, doesn’t the idea of this make you so stinking happy? These babies will wrap fruit, sandwiches, pizza, all of the good stuff! This will be a super easy shift for me to make because I am wrapping the food anyway. The hardest part will be encouraging my husband to change his routine. My sweet husband will have to start bringing his lunch bag back into the house every day to be refilled instead of having the convince of wasting and throwing that bag away after every lunch. But he’s a pretty tough guy so I think he can handle it!
3. Buying in bulk - Mason jars are a great way to store the food you buy in bulk. You can even buy your mason jars second hand to reduce your footprint even more, but don’t let me overwhelm you with that one! Here are some healthy foods that you can buy in bulk: whole grains, rice, beans + lentils, pasta, oats, popcorn, meat, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, butter, canned fish, canned tomatoes, vinegar, whole peppercorns, ketchup, mustard, frozen vegetables, dried fruits, nuts in a shell, sugar, salt (list from Don’t Waste the Crumbs)
4. Compost - Food waste is such a problem in the US. Roughly 40% of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. I have noticed myself throwing away a bunch of food just from preparing my fruits and veggies. I chop up an onion and both of the ends go in the trash, I prepare asparagus and half of the stalk goes in the trash, I peel a carrot and away goes those scraps into the trash. Each time I throw food away I think If only I had a compost so that all of these food scraps wouldn’t go to waste. Well those wishing days are behind me folks. I am lucky enough to have a lot of space in our new home for a compost. But if you don’t have space where you live, my friend Jess, of the blog Jess With Less, shared a great tip with me the other day. If you don’t have space for a compost, you can freeze your food scraps and take them to a local farmers market, farm, or garden center. If you get a little creative, there are always ways to waste less!
5. Focus on local - I love the idea of eating with the seasons. I dream of days when I am buying all of my food locally from farmers markets or picking it out of my own garden and then preserving the food through the winter, just like my grandma did. I have slowly started to make food choices that will lead me down this path but I know it isn’t going to happen all at once. Buying organic produce from the co-op feels great but the reality is, it’s really expensive. Also, it really is not the most sustainable option. From packing food up in one country and then and shipping it to another to be purchased, there is a lot of waste in fuel and freshness. I am going to be honest that I don’t know much about what goes into preserving foods so that they travel well, but I do know that the less a food has to travel from farm to fork, the healthier it is for me and the environment.
Photo by Jess Carpenter
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