I really like to dig deep and discover new ways I can foster minimalism in my lifestyle whilst living more zero waste.
Sometimes it’s hard to look beyond the everyday routine and identify areas that aren’t really optimal. But because I recently started my amazing plant-based diet (read more about it here), I used that time of discovery to re-examined many things that were connected to the way I cooked and the kind of waste I was producing in the kitchen.
Of course, this snowballed further into me taking a virtual magnifying glass to the way my household produced and managed waste.
Aiming to become absolutely zero waste can be quite a lofty goal, but every little bit counts towards improving sustainability. And besides, it really satisfies my minimalist-loving heart to know I’m finding ways to waste less, use more consciously, and develop intentionality in all areas of my life.
I’ve written about sustainable living for beginners before, but I’d like to share some more specific, practical tips that will help you decrease waste in the kitchen and do your part for a healthier environment.
5 Ways to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen
Re-use old clothes as dish rags and cloths for cleaning
Cut old clothes into various sized squares and store them in a handy place for cleaning the kitchen and other areas of the house. It helps you do away with paper towels or needing to buy cleaning cloths. It’s also a really functional way to get the most out of old clothing you might have thrown away.
Once you’re done with them, old rags can be donated to animal shelters, used for art projects, washing the car, or taken to a textile factory that recycles fabric.
Use the whole fruit or vegetable
Peels are packed with nutrients! Removing peels also removes healthy fibre and antioxidants. Simply scrub with a brush and you’ll get rid of dirt and some pesticides. (If you’re really concerned about pesticides, go the safe way and buy organic). I’m cooking these vegetables, peels and all: potatoes, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant.
For inedible peels (watermelon rind anyone?), add them to your compost bin which you can then use to feed your outdoor (or indoor) garden.
By searching online, I’ve found many other ways to reuse inedible peels or the tops, leaves and stems of fruit and veggies, some of them include:
- Grow new lettuce from lettuce heads (there are a number of vegetables you could try this with)
- Use veggie leaves, stems and roots to make a delicious and nutritious vegetable stock
- Bake potato and sweet potato peels in the oven as chips
- Blend banana peels to add moisture and give a nutritious kick to cakes
- Add broccoli stems, kale stems, beetroot leaves to your smoothies or juicer
Use a meal plan
Creating a cooking from a meal plan reduces waste in a few ways:
- It’s more cost-effective to make meals from scratch than eat out multiple times a week
- Saves you time and energy deciding what to cook when you’re tired at the end of the day
- Ensures you eat nutritious food rather than fast food or whatever readily available food your nearest restaurant is offering that may not be part of your healthy eating plan.
- Being more organized about what ingredients you need means less wasteful expenditure at the grocery story and more awareness of what you already have in your pantry so you can shop at home!
- Allows for a chance to consider recipes (such as soups or one pots) where you can include the entire vegetable without any wastage and use roots or leaves for stocks.
Stop buying single-use items or find ways to reuse packaging
Try reusable fabric bags for your grocery shopping. Buy ‘loose’ products, fruit and vegetables where possible. Plastic bags can have many uses such as storage for old rags, lining your trash can, keeping art equipment, and even protecting your plants.
Repurpose food containers
Search your home for reusable products. Keep glass and metal containers (and even plastic containers) for storage or other purposes.
Homehacks has some wonderfully creative ideas for reusing containers and incorporating zero waste living. Why not try one:
- Jam or jelly glass containers can be repurposed as matching planters for cute indoor plants
- Use candy tins to organize craft supplies or hair accessories
- Yogurt containers are great dry storage for rice and beans
- Coffee creamer containers can be converted into snack dispensers.
There are many more suggestions online for how to run a zero (or low) waste kitchen and home. For me, it makes a lot of sense to try to reduce my overall usage of things in general.