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The Zero Waste Kitchen, Simpler Living
April 10th, 2016 | 08:42 AM | 11425 views
You’ve surely heard of ‘zero waste’ by now, and if you haven’t, here it is. It is not the new trend of people walking around with designer water bottles. No, it’s the collective effort of ordinary people to face an issue we can no longer afford to ignore – growing landfills and growing economies.
The idea is simple: Think before you buy and think before you throw.
Take the kitchen – the place that eats up most of your consuming and expenses.
A zero waste kitchen inevitably changes how you see your own eating and spending habits, pushing you to make healthier and more economical choices. Come to think of it – fresh, nutritious food usually comes without a package and it’s the sugary and fatty products that are all wrapped up in plastic. Buying single-portion products also happens to cost you a lot more annually than buying in bulk.
“Zero waste” is to not only be good to the environment, but to be good to yourself. And just like all good things, it’s tough and challenging at the start.
There are three layers to a zero waste kitchen and those are shopping, cooking and cleaning.
Zero Waste Shopping
Buy in bulk
A zero waste routine starts in the shop.
It’s fair to point out, however, that the zero waste kitchen is nearly impossible at a regular store. It’s a lot easier if you do your shopping at a place with an anti-packaging policy like bulk grocery shops.
While it’s true that should you decide to go zero waste ‘bulk’ will become your new best friend, we won’t pretend like it’s easy or convenient to always find a shop with that option.
Here are the shopping essentials for any store you go to:
Bring glass jars
These will come in handy when you need the clerk to weigh cheese, meat, fish, salads, olives, etc. Remember to weigh the jar before it’s full so that you can deduct it from the final price.
Bring reusable cotton bags
Use cotton bags (or pillow cases, for that matter) to carry fruit, bread and other dry items. Having trouble remembering to bring a bag? Keep them in convenient places like the front seat of your car, your purse or next to your front door.
Here’s another fun idea: if you forget to bring a bag, don’t get one at the store. Carry the groceries in your arms and you’ll definitely remember to bring one next time!
Go for Glass
When you need to buy a beverage, milk, vinegar or anything that requires packaging, choose glass. Glass is 100% recyclable – that means that it can be thrown away and brought back into the store an infinite amount of time, without any loss of quality. Plastic, on the other hand, cannot be recycled, but only down-cycled – that means it will only be reused once before eventually ending up in a landfill. Much more preferable alternatives to plastic and Styrofoam are also metal and paper.
Explore your options! You might be surprised how many Farmer’s Markets and shops will take back their cardboard and glass packaging to reuse or recycle. All you have to do is ask!
Anticipate Your Needs
Like we said at the start, being zero waste forces you to pay a lot of attention to what you eat. Eventually, you get to know yourself. Find out what are the vegetables you can’t live without and can them in jars. That way, later on when their season has passed, you won’t get tempted to buy cans from the store, or vegetables wrapped in plastic.
Zero Waste Cooking
Remember that crazy advice from earlier on, about carrying your groceries without a bag just to teach yourself a lesson? Well, experienced zero-wasters have another great piece of self-punitive advice: don’t keep aluminium foil in the kitchen. Nor plastic wraps, garbage bags or any disposables for that matter!
The idea, of course, is not to torture yourself, but to feel encouraged to use the alternatives . For example to:
Use cloth towels and rags, instead of paper napkins.
Use a silicone mat, instead of aluminium foil. If you absolutely must use tinfoil, remember that you can use the same foil more than once. Keep in mind, the foil is only recyclable if it’s clean, so if you’re going to throw it – it’s better not to put in the rubbish, but wash and recycle it.
Use containers to store food, not plastic wrap.
Plastic wrap really has no place in a zero waste kitchen. In fact, if you’re familiar with the preferred conditions of different fruits and vegetables, you’ll find that there are ways to keep them fresh without resorting to wrapping them in plastic.
Use wooden cutting boards, instead of plastic ones.
Plastic cutting boards are not only non-recyclable, but are also more vulnerable to bacteria.
Zero Waste Cleaning
Use a home-made detergent, instead of one from the store.
Cleaning products and cosmetics have some of the most wasteful packaging, and that’s fine, because they were never really all that good for you from the start. How about making a cleaning detergent by yourself? Vinegar, lemons, baking soda and castile soap are excellent cleaners that won’t have you sacrificing the quality of the job done. If you’re hung up on using your dishsoap detergent, make sure to always go for a cardboard box rather than plastic.
Use a compostable wooden dish brush, instead of kitchen sponges.
‘Rot’. It may not paint a pretty picture, but it’s absolutely the most wonderful thing to do with your waste. In fact, if you do, it’s technically not even waste anymore – it’s compost. Buy a wooden brush with natural hair, instead of a synthetic sponge, and when you’re done with it, throw it in the compost bin and let it turn into a beautiful pile of rot!
Here’s another idea: Most households have a large rubbish bin and a tiny compost bin. How about trying to switch the two? Mental “nudges” like this one are guaranteed to alter your subconscious perception of what your waste should look like.
What Can I Compost?
You already know where fruit, veggies and plant prunings belong, but that’s not even half of it! You’ll come to appreciate consuming without the burden of waste when you find out all the things you can compost. Be sure of it, within a week these will become more than ‘a few of your favourite things‘ :
Tea bags, Coffee grounds, Shredded paper bags, Egg cartons, Wine & wine corks, Toothpicks, Tissues & napkins, Shredded documents, Toilet rolls, Cotton, Latex condoms, Dry pet food and plenty more!
Cooked vegetables, meat and dairy don’t belong in the compost so make sure that you or your pet always eat the left-overs.
OK, what next? You’ve gathered a lovely, stinking heap of organic waste that has been growing for a week. How do you dispose of compost? Use it! It’s full of nutrients much needed in your plant pots, patio containers, herbs, garden flowers, veggies, and trees. It’s best to dispose of your compost regularly so that the job doesn’t get too gross!
That’s all there is to a zero waste kitchen – a closed cycle. You refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and rot. The R that doesn’t belong in there is for Rubbish!
Ultimately, the point of a challenge is not to stress you or wear you out, but to teach you new things. Focus not on the things you’ll sacrifice, but on the ones you’ll gain!
courtesy of NATURALNEWS
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