Creating a zero waste kitchen can seem impossible. Although it seems daunting, once changes have been made they are easy to maintain even if you still want to buy the occasional food item that contains waste.
It has been freezing cold outside and the only good thing about not being able to play outside for extended periods is that I end up baking with the kids instead. The other day, I made my favourite banana muffins with my two littles. We, of course added chocolate to the recipe. To make them we used my Grandpa’s old muffin pan with reusable silicone muffin cups. For some reason I feel a little bit better adding the reusable silicone muffin cups to the old and tired looking muffin pan. I also feel some sort reluctance to buy a completely new pan when the pan is perfectly capable of making these delicious muffins.
Reusing old kitchen items from older family members seems like a trend in our family and will be a theme of this post. Creating a zero waste kitchen involves alot of reusing and a little bit of prep.
To create a zero waste kitchen and make it less daunting, I decided to tackle each cupboard one at a time to create solutions to my waste problems. It also helped me to clean up my messy cupboards and make them look somewhat respectable. Use these steps to create a zero waste kitchen.
Create your Zero Waste Kitchen
Buy Jars, Containers, Storage
Start by checking out your local used store for jars and containers to store bulk foods, leftovers and snacks . Once you have exhausted that option buy at least 24 mason jars or more! Trust me… You will use them for bulk items you overbought or snacks you have prepared.
Create “THE LOOK”
Move all your foods into reusable containers UNLESS you know that you will not be able to buy that item in bulk. We started moving our quinoa, rice etc to reusable containers about a month before the Green UP challenge. It helped to know that I had a place for the bulk items that I would be buying.
Reuse what you have!
Reuse what you have and don’t throw out something unless it can no longer be used. Just like the muffin pan that has lasted a couple of generations. If you need to get rid of something make sure to recycle if possible and put in the garbage if necessary.
Use Fresh Bags
The kitchen is where all the food waste ends up! Did you know that the reason veggies and especially lettuce is put in plastic bags is to keep them fresh for longer? Use fresh bags like these ones by Gogobags to extend the shelf life of your vegetables and reduce your food waste. They have worked to keep our lettuce fresh up to 10 days!
Reuse Ziplock bags
It is best not to go out and buy a whole bunch of ziplock bags for this challenge but if you happen to own a bunch of ziplock bags DON’T THROW THEM OUT! They are an excellent example of a product that can be reused over and over again. Even when they get holes in them consider using them to organize items in drawers! Most of the ziplock bags we bought almost a year ago are still being used.
Reuse your plastic bread bags
Reuse an old plastic bread bag for your bakery items. This will help keep them from drying out once you bring them home.
Eat the skin
Choose to eat the skin of veggies and fruits instead of peeling them. (As long as they are edible of course!) Vegetables like carrots do not actually need to be peeled so wash them and enjoy them with the skin.
The city composts ours but you can either build your own or buy one for added convenience!
Be picky about what you buy!
Do you need a food processor, mixer and blender or can you make do with just one of those items? Do you need all the new kitchen gadgets or can you make do with what you have!
Side story: I refused to buy a potato masher. My mom was shocked that I did not own a potato masher when she visited our small one bedroom apartment Vancouver but in my mind I could simply use a fork. I lasted about years until my mom visited our place and delivered us TWO potato mashers. While I now own a potato masher curtesy of my mom but I have really learnt to consider my kitchen purchases deliberately before buying a new item.
Do you need everything in your kitchen to be brand new or are there certain items that you would be willing to purchase used. Check out the used store and see if you can outfit some of your kitchen with used gadgets and appliances. Make sure to check to see if the appliance works before you leave the store!
Buy Fruits and Vegetables
It seems so simple but fruits and vegetables are the perfect healthy zero waste snack. They come with little waste as long as when you buy them you put them in a reusable produce bag.
Buy Bulk Snacks
One of the biggest challenges is that quick and easy snacks come in plastic that are recyclable. That is such a challenge for busy families with two working parents that need access to quick foods for their family. It does not help that it becomes a guessing game trying to know what can and cannot be recycled and that this varies from different cities. If you are lucky enough to have a Bulk Barn then head there for some waste free, quick and easy snacks.
Make Your Own Snacks
Choose one snack item to make and double the recipe so that ideally it will last the whole week. This can be a challenge for working families. Trust me… I know! We were in survival mode when my husband and I were both working fulltime after my oldest daughter turned 1.
Get rid of your garbage cans
Get rid of your garbage can and replace it with a small jar! This will force you to find ways to reuse your garbage for something else, compost and recycle more!
Start creating your zero waste kitchen now and feel free of all the garbage that is dragging you down! Any other tips for creating a zero waste garbage?!