Zero Waste in the Kitchen: My Journey Thus Far

Hello all!

I am feeling so grateful for the outreach of love and support from our community of readers. I’m excited to share more with you. This journey has been hella blessed. I want to talk more about Zero Waste (ZW). Today’s episode: The Kitchen.

I’ve been working to be as ZW possible in the kitchen and have a few suggestions when getting started. This is also where I’m at in my journey. I would LOVE to hear any suggestions you may have on going ZW in the kitchen.

Remember: ONE ITEM AT A TIME.

Ditch the Plastic Grocery Bags

Not really a kitchen “item” per say…but you bring your groceries home in something! This is usually many peoples first step to reducing their waste, and rightfully so. It may seem so small, but it really does make a big difference. “BUT Jamma, I use the bags for my little waste bins throughout my home!” Yes, I understand. I have the solution of you! I’ve made these reusable guys for that very purpose. There’s really no need for those plastic grocery bags anymore. I would suggest either use the rest of the bags you have for that purpose, or bring them back to your store for recycling if they offer that option, then make (or hit me up I can help) your own bags for this purpose.

Ditch the Paper Towel

Use what you have, of course, then stop buying it. It still blows my mind that we buy these items just to throw them away. What a waste of money! If you’re sewing savvy, there are plenty of “non-paper towel” tutorials on Pinterest. What I do is just use old rags. Don’t have old rags? Hit up some thrift stores- you’re sure to find something there. Peronally *George Provided* my old rags for me. It takes time to get out of the “ease” mindset when it comes to paper towel. But I promise you it’s worth it. “BUT Jamma, I need them to soak up my bacon grease!” I actually have a couple of towels that are dedicated to bacon grease. Yeah, it’s gross- wash them separately from your other towels. Have a dedicated box or bucket to store them before wash day.

Ditch the Plastic Garbage Bags

We’ve lived in our home for nearly four years and I am finally done with our plastic garbage bags. We use one bag of trash or less a week. I’m sure our garbage man is wondering what the hell we are doing. He’s always giving our can the evil stare. Ha, anyway. I would buy the gigantic box of bags that had more than enough for the entire year. Until I came across biodegradable bags. WINNING…NOT. As I was researching some tips on using biodegradable (total needle off the record moment) I found many .edu sites that basically said, “HEY DUMBASS! THOSE COULD POSSIBLY BE THE SAME IF NOT WORSE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!”. — Ouch–. I thought I was doing something right. Turns out, most items in the landfill aren’t allowed to see light or the elements. So, instead of breaking down things tend to just petrify. Yay. So, here I am again.

Honestly…the best way to go about garbage is to reduce our waste significantly so less and less garbage, if any at all, goes into the landfill.

Keep fighting the good fight! I believe my next step, as far as the garbage can goes, is to see the rules on not having a bag to contain the garbage. My only iffy feeling here is that loose materials tend to, well, get loose. I would hate to be the reason there’s garbage all over the roads.

Ditch Throwing Out Your Food Scraps

Ethan putting banana peel in compost bucket.

Start a compost pile…feed them to your animals (if they are safe for them) or find a farm that would happily take your scraps. Save your compostable materials for someone else’s compost! YOU CAN DO IT! A friend of mine, LeeAnn, doesn’t want to have her own compost pile, but she saves her materials to hand off to others. Perfect example. You don’t have to do a lot of work to get results and be helpful.

This part is pretty easy for us because of our chickens (they eat almost anything, sweet little dinosaurs), and compost pile.

It’s important for our home to follow a couple of rules when we separate the food scraps for our chickens/compost:

*Chickens cannot have apple seeds
. They contain small amounts cyanide which we all know is not groovy…seeds do not go into our compost piles because we don’t need rando’s popping up everywhere. So, apple cores tend to get thrown out. If you have pigs I’m sure those dudes would love your apple cores.
*Chickens can only rarely have citrus. Which is fine for composting, just make sure the seeds are out.
*Chickens may not have onion. Small amounts are alright.So, if you made an “oops” live I’ve done in the past-you’re okay. Just don’t make it a habit.

*Compost- just to repeat- no seeds. Our pile consists mostly of egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds and compostable coffee filters.

You can find these at Health Hutt if you’re around where I live. Otherwise, I’m sure local health food stores have, or can order these for you. I love that I was able to switch from the filters that came in a plastic bag to HOME compostable. My coffee machine has a single serve side to it that came with a reusable basket. I LOVE IT. I just rinse it out/wash it and we’re off to the races. No need to spend money just to throw something out. But, if I’m going to be making coffee for more than myself, I’m using the compostable coffee filters.

Ditch the Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap is gross. Also yet another item we buy to throw away. Bye-bye money! Enter: WAX WRAPS! I love these dudes!

My girl, Ashley, and I have been making these for close to two years now. Mostly we gift them, because that’s fun, but we also keep a ton for ourselves. I cant tell you how many times they have come in handy, but I’ll try:
*Wrapping up banana bread to take to a party.
*Wrapping sandwiches/tortilla roll ups for Ethan’s lunches.
*Left-overs
*Left-over fruits and veggies like cucumbers, sweet potatoes, etc.
*They fit perfectly over a little bowl I put fruit in for Ethan’s lunch and it doesn’t spill- AND it’s easy for him to open versus using a Tupperware dish.

****Speaking of waste: do NOT put these in the freezer. I already tried and totally regret it.

Ditch the Ziploc Bags

Again, an item we purchase to throw away. Goodbye, money. (Why is it I always sing “Goodbye Earl” bye the Dixie Chicks every time I say “Goodbye, Money”?) ANYWAY! In my Three R’s post I went into great detail about the sandwich bags I’ve made for my family. With Ethan just starting up Kindergarten I’ve realized I’m gonna need to make a lot more! He tends to leave them at school. Eh, worth it.

Another item I found useful is a sandwich wrap. It’s all the same material as the sandwich bag, but this guy lays flat like a mat for your lunch. I’m working on some modifications for Nate so he can roll it a little more tightly for wraps. He prefers the sandwich wraps over the bags for his sandwiches and wraps. I’m pretty sure it’s so he can fit two in the sandwich wrap and only one in the bag. Haha!

This journey has been hard but extremely rewarding. Every time we use less plastics, and more reuseable items it makes me feel good about life. Like I’m actually doing something to help reduce single-use plastic items and I’m helping others do the same. It’s really daunting at first, trying to figure out this Zero Waste shtick. But I promise you…if you just do one item at a time (maybe one per month) you’ll find it so much easier to add into your every day life.

What are your favorite ways to reduce waste in your kitchen?

All my love,
Jamma

*Featured image photo cred: Speedy McVroom from Pixabay

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8 Comments

  1. My city has taken a new initiative and completely banned plastic bags. It’s a huge step in the right direction and I’ve stopped using them as well. 🙂 This was very eye opening.

    Like

      1. Yeah exactly! It tastes so much nicer too. It’s really easy to do – save up your scraps (including things like onion skins), we keep ours in a bag or box in the freezer so they dont start going off. Once you have a fair amount, boil in water. It’s best to do this on a low heat for a few hours but I believe you can just do it for an hour if you’re short for time. Then just sieve it and dispose of the scraps!

        Liked by 1 person

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