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Top Tips + Tricks for A Zero Waste Kitchen

March 8, 2021
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Top Tips and Tricks for a Zero Waste Kitchen

I was recently part of an informative and helpful article published by Redfin! Check out these ideas from zero waste and culinary bloggers and businesses. Don’t miss my tip near the bottom!

Break the challenge down into smaller, manageable chunks. 

Focus on swaps relating to your groceries or laundry, cleaning products or something else. And don’t only focus on plastic or packaging in general – what’s on the inside counts too. What ingredients are used, where do they come from, and how is it made? And only replace things when they’ve been used to death or run out – don’t go eco mad overnight. – David Lamont, The Plastic Free Home

Take packaging into account when you’re buying ingredients

Some carrots come in a plastic bag, some don’t. Cherry tomatoes come in a (in most places unrecyclable) plastic clamshell, larger tomatoes rarely do. And don’t put produce in plastic bags at the grocery store, seriously. If something does come in a bag, you can use the bag as your trash bag. Basically there’s no way to completely avoid packaging if you want to exist in this society, but you can make small decisions every day that won’t affect your life hugely that will minimize your use of single use plastics. – Moku Roots

Zero waste shops and reusable items are your friend. 

Start your zero waste kitchen by switching from plastic bottle dish wash to a big glass bottle and buy a liquid soap in a zero waste shop. Another great way of how you can stop using plastic bags is to switch to reusable cotton bags for fruit and vegetables. But just remember, nobody’s perfect and you don’t have to switch everything right away. Just take it one step at a time. Every step counts. – Eli Kubikova, Seaside Wildflower

Every little bit makes a difference. 

Use a biodegradable sponge and dish brush. Then the very simple thing of replacing your dish soap with a glass refillable bottle. You can purchase dish soap in a cardboard container to refill or even use block soap instead of using a plastic bottle that ends up in the landfill. One of the most important things to include in a kitchen is a water filter, this can be an under the sink water filter or even a counter top one. Buying reusable bottles and committing to no longer buying plastic is one of the most gratifying ways to live more sustainably. And remember every little bit makes a difference and every dollar you spend towards a brand that is doing things sustainably is casting your vote for a better world. – Eco Couple

Swap single use items for reusables. 

My two favorite swaps are stasher bags (to replace zip top plastics) and unpaper towels (to replace paper towels). It’s a little bit of an investment but pays for itself over time and keeps lots of unnecessary waste out of landfills. Plus both of these items can be used for a variety of things- you can sous vide in the stashers and use the unpaper towels as napkins, burp cloths, hand towels, really anything. – Dana Cohen, Hyer Goods

It’s all about reducing and reusing, eliminating plastic and unnecessary waste.

Starting with the kitchen, replace plastic bags, plastic wrap and plastic disposables with high-quality reusable solutions that are easy to clean, add some style and even save money over time. Now we see our kids doing the same thing in their homes and we know that, cumulatively, these small life changes are making a big impact. – Urban Market Bags

Start to incorporate more glass containers into your kitchen for storing food, organizing your pantry, and even your spices.

This doesn’t mean throwing away all your plastic items and buying new immediately, but once an item is ready to replace, consider glass instead. I also recommend buying sustainably produced foods – like local and organic produce and even packaged foods that prioritize sustainability. – Jenna Gorham, Registered Dietitian and Founder of the digital platform, Link

Save your jars. 

When you buy salsa or jam in a glass jar it’s a free gift with purchase. Glass jars are a great way to store leftovers, spices, or home-brewed iced tea. Soak the jar in warm water and soap to scrape the label off and throw them in the dishwasher in between uses. – Joan Goodspeed, Break + Remake

Utilize smart storage in your zero waste kitchen. 

The simplest way to reduce your food waste comes down to smart storage. One of the great features of The Swag reusable vegetable storage bags is that they are colour coded! This means you can select a colour for fruit and veggies that need to be eaten quickly and another for food that needs to be eaten by the end of the week. The Swag can give back days or weeks to your produce which means you’ll waste less food and save money when you use it. – Peita Pini, Founder and Owner of The Swag

Glass jars are universal storage

Instead of throwing your used glass jars into your recycling bin, consider reusing them in your own home! Because they’re already food safe, you can use them for storing pantry staples like flour and sugar, dry goods like beans and pasta, or even homemade broths and soups. Plus, you’ll know exactly what your recycling is being used for. – Kara Richardson Co-Owner, The Create + Restore Brand

Replace any single-use plastic. 

Have beeswax wraps to replace single use plastic film to cover bowls and plates of food, wrap sandwiches and produce. I recommend doing a trash audit and really seeing how much plastic waste you produce and start making small changes to reduce waste. – Silvija Rumiha, Founder of Zero Waste Bali

Become as plastic free as possible. 

Utilizing beeswax food wraps like Ideal Wrap in place of single-use plastic disposable items like zip-top bags, cling wrap and plastic food containers is essential. Beeswax food wraps are easy to wash, highly reusable and designed to naturally reduce bacterial growth extending the life of your favorite foods. All while reducing your carbon footprint. – Sarah Nobbley, Owner Ideal Wrap

Meal plan to reduce food waste. 

Before you grocery shop, decide what you’ll have for dinner this week and write that down as a meal plan. To get ideas for what to cook, look in your fridge and pantry first to see what needs using up or has been stored for more than a few months. When you grocery shop, be sure to follow a predetermined list and try to limit impulse buys to just 1-2 items per week because over-buying is how you end up with wasted food and wasted money. – Alison Mountford, Ends and Stems

Start cooking with perishables first. 

To manage your fresh veggies and prevent them from spoiling, create your meal plan using recipes with perishable ingredients first (tomatoes, salad greens, and avocados), then plan recipes with vegetables with a longer shelf-life later in the week (carrots, potatoes, or winter squash). If you do have veggies which are close to spoiling, put them in the freezer, then use them to make vegetable stock. Bonus: save the scraps from veggies – like the ends of onions or peels of carrots – and add these to your vegetable stock, too. – Ann Kent, MS, RDN, owner of Peas and Hoppiness

Keep any and all vegetable trimmings. 

To reduce food and packaging waste, save up all of your vegetable scraps and use them to make your own vegetable broth. Keep the trimmings in an airtight container in the fridge, or in the freezer if you are storing for longer than a week. Cook the broth by simmering the veggies in a pot with water and spices of your preference, then strain out the scraps, and you’ve got zero-waste, homemade broth. – Talia Rampelt, Veggie Gal Tal

Save the water that’s leftover from steaming vegetables to cook whole grains or pasta.

My favorite way to use the water is to drink it as you would a soothing tea. You’ll notice that the water takes on a faint color of the vegetables – that’s because it contains some water soluble vitamins. By cooking with or drinking the water, you’re saving water and nutrients. – Abby K. Cannon, JD, RD, CDN Abby’s Food Court 

Ditch trash bags for a zero waste kitchen. 

Enjoy many benefits of composting food waste. Use organic matter to feed soil and plants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by not taking space in landfills, and save money. No need to purchase fertilizers or trash bags, because your trash can will fill less often and with only dry, non-smelly items. – Laura Yochum, Prostainable

Originally published by Redfin

Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.