Out of all the rooms in your house, your kitchen probably produces the most waste. A quick glance at your trash bin will probably reveal fruit scraps, vegetable peels, expired food, as well as plastic and paper packaging. Although it may not be practical for you to have a “zero-waste” kitchen, there are a few simple strategies that will significantly reduce the amount of trash you produce.
Waste reduction is one of the major tenets of sustainable living. There are so many environmental benefits that come with limiting the amount of kitchen waste you generate. For example, you’ll be helping to reduce waste at landfills, which decreases the amount of methane emitted into the atmosphere (a major contributor to global warming). Reducing waste has tons of benefits for you, too. You’ll definitely notice the positive impact on your finances, as well as the peace of mind that comes with a cleaner, less cluttered home. Here are a few simple steps you can take to make a huge difference in your kitchen.
Composting is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to reducing waste. In fact, many prehistoric civilizations used this technique to improve the quality of their soil and crops. By recycling food and other organic materials, you can reduce landfill waste while creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Composting is easy. Just remember to save your scraps and peels, as well as any produce that may have gone bad in the fridge. Though fruits and vegetables tend to make up the largest chunk of composting materials, you can also include these items in your compost pile:
Coffee grounds and filters
Shredded newspaper and cardboard
Leaves, branches and twigs
Composting in the 21st century couldn’t be easier. With a wide selection of bins and bags to choose from, you’re bound to find a composting solution that works for you and your household.
Freeze Your Food
You can extend the shelf life of ingredients and meals by simply putting them in the freezer. Only used half a can of tomato sauce? Instead of throwing it out, put the other half in a freezer-safe container and save it for next time! Got a good deal on fresh fruit in bulk? Freeze them for future use in your smoothies or baked goods. There are a host of meals that can be frozen and defrosted, which has the added benefit of saving you money and time with advanced meal planning. Great examples include:
Sauces and stews
Soups, broths and stocks
Pasta dishes like lasagne or ziti
Butter, yogurt and sour cream
Fruits and vegetables
Bread, muffins and other baked goods
Cooked rice or beans
To avoid using plastic when freezing your food, you may want to try silicone ziploc bags, stainless steel containers, or beeswax food wrap. Baked goods like bread and tortillas can be frozen in a pillowcase or cloth bag.
Stop Using Disposable Paper Towels
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans generate 3.8 million tonnes of waste from disposable paper towels and napkins each year. It’s easy to see why. A single person can use upwards of ten sheets of paper towels per day, between drying their hands, cleaning up spills or wiping the floor. With a simple switch, you can remove disposable towels from your kitchen once and for all.
Rakot75’s reusable cloth paper towels are made of durable bamboo. Each sheet can be washed and reused for up to six months! They’re the perfect kitchen companion for cleaning countertops and floors, drying dishes, dusting, wiping up spills, and so much more. Outside of the kitchen, our reusable cloth paper towels have an endless array of uses.
Be More Intentional About Shopping
Eliminating unnecessary purchases helps you to save money, while reducing the amount of waste you create. Before heading to the grocery store, check your fridge and pantry to avoid getting more of what you already have. It’s also helpful to plan your meals for the week and buy only what you need for those meals.
Use reusable shopping bags and take advantage of zero-waste refill stations. Many supermarket chains allow you to bring your own containers to stock up on food, cleaning products and personal care items. Refillable products include food items like flour, pasta, rice, nuts, oils, cereals, seasonings, coffee and candy. You may also be able to refill your own containers with eco-friendly household cleaners, laundry detergent, and dish soap.
Find Creative Ways to Use Leftovers
Before you toss, stop and think if your leftovers can be made into a delicious new meal. With a bit of creativity, you can reduce waste, save money and come up with exciting new recipes. Consider these easy methods of using up your leftovers:
Stale bread can be used to make breadcrumbs, croutons or bread pudding
Overripe bananas can be baked into bread or muffins
Not-so-fresh vegetables can be used to make soup, stock or broth
Leftover rice can be transformed into fried rice
Despite their simplicity, these strategies can have a huge impact on your home, your community and the planet. Try them out for a month and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the considerable difference in how often you need to take out the trash.