How to Start A Zero Waste Kitchen – A Beginner’s Guide
Is it possible to have a zero waste kitchen? Going zero waste is by no means an easy task when we are constantly bombarded with packaging and convenience based consumerism. Whilst I am not a fan of the word zero waste, because at some point, everything we consume becomes waste; it is an inspirational way to drastically reduce everyday waste and accomplish a low waste kitchen.
Having a zero to low waste kitchen is not easy, but it is doable. We just have to make small changes overtime to achieve a zero waste kitchen. At some point, we all need ideas to get us moving in the right direction. Therefore, if you are beginning to think about aiming for a zero or low waste kitchen, use the ideas below to start your journey towards your zero waste and sustainable kitchen.
Do not rush, make one change at a time, get used to it then move to the next change. When we rush into lifestyle changes, we become overwhelmed and revert back to our old ways.
Start with Achieving a Zero Waste Kitchen Sink
There are many small changes that you can make to achieve a zero waste kitchen. Let us start with the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. You can swap some cleaning items for products that last longer or produce less waste. For example, for your dishwasher, opt for tablets that come in recyclable packaging. Recyclable packaging is often made from cardboard, therefore once the tablets are done, the box can be recycled. Before you purchase the product however, check if the box has an eco-label certification. The eco label is your assurance that the tablets and packaging will not pollute the water or waste stream once it leaves your kitchen.
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Have you ever tried using a sponge made from natural fibres? Natural dish washing sponges and scourers are gradually becoming a popular substitution for conventional sponges. They are another good swap for the zero waste kitchen sink. Since these items are made naturally and do not contain any chemicals, once done, you can add them to your compost heap or put them in the garden to breakdown over time. If you are not sure about the sponges, buy one, try it and then decide if it is suitable for your kitchen.
Zero Waste Kitchen Surface Cleaning Hacks
Using an antibacterial dish washing soap with warm water and a clean cloth will be more than enough to keep your kitchen counters clean. However, if you prefer to buy a product for your counters, then choose one that is eco friendly. For example, look for cleaning products that are chemical free and come in recyclable or refillable bottles.
There are several eco friendly brands that you can try out, such as the one that I recently came across, Wilton London. Their kitchen and laundry cleaning products are natural, plant based, made using essential oils and come in recyclable bottles. A favourable brand that hits all the right buttons.
Kitchen Floor Cleaning
You do not always need a specialist kitchen floor cleaner. Using an antibacterial dishwashing soap to achieve the zero waste kitchen will also do the trick. Simply add half a teaspoon of your antibacterial dishwashing soap to half a bucket of warm water. You may have to double up the mopping exercise by going over the floor again with just plain hot water, but this will do the trick.
Alternatively, if you are feeling inspired, you can make your own floor cleaning products for your zero waste kitchen. Most DIY cleaning hacks will use soap and insist on adding vinegar to the recipe because vinegar is viewed as a suitable ingredient to all-purpose cleaners. However, if you not like the smell of vinegar, you do not need to add it. Any antibacterial soap will do fine. Instead of vinegar, use a few drops of an essential oil to perk up the scent of the freshly cleaned floor. Most essential oils contain antibacterial properties; therefore, you will be adding an extra layer of antibacterial to the floor.
Too much of a task?
If all of this seems to onerous, then last case scenario pick up an eco friendly starter cleaning kit that is made from natural ingredients, chemical free and comes in a refillable or recyclable bottle. The cleaning kit, such as the one available from Clean Living will provide you with everything you need to get started on a plant based, zero waste cleaning regime.
Let’s move to Zero Waste from Unwanted Food
The best way to reduce waste from food is by creating a meal planner. There are numerous recipes currently available on the internet. Pick the recipes you want to make and then create a shopping list for the week.
Alternatively sign up for a food delivery subscription box. The beauty about such subscription services is that you can select the size of the box, and the type of diet you want i.e. vegan, vegetarian, seafood etc. The box will provide all of the ingredients, a step by step recipe guide and the proportion. Therefore, taking away the onerous task of daily meal planning and reduce unnecessary food waste.
Composting is another way to remove food waste from your waste bin. If your local waste service does not offer a food waste collection, start composting at home. You can either purchase a compost bin, make one or start a compost pile in the garden. By composting food materials you will be reducing the amount of waste that goes to general waste. The food will break down over time and produce a nutrient rich material for your indoor and outdoor plants. However, if you are a beginner to composting, you should note that composting can attract vermin, therefore only add materials as outlined below:
What you should add to the compost:
- Fruits and vegetables scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells.
- Garden waste such as grass cuttings and leaves.
- Shredded paper and toilet roll tubes.
What you should not add to the compost: Cooked food, meat, dairy, seafood, bread or animal waste.
Always add the materials in the above manner. Then use a pitch fork and gently mix them. By doing so, you will ensure that the compost bin has the right conditions and Oxygen to help organisms breakdown the material faster. Furthermore, place your bin or heap in a sunny and earthy spot so that it receives plenty of sunshine to heat the materials. The heat will speed up the decomposition process. You can learn more about composting from the Eden project.
If you live in an apartment, start a small kitchen compost. There are many counter top options now available even if you do not have a garden.
Have you ever considered bulk buying in a group, especially if you live on your own? We cannot always get away from packaging waste, but we can reduce it by bulk buying. Whilst bulk buying attracts families and it may not be the right option if you are living on your own, give it a go. Ask your friends, family or even neighbours to share the bulk with you. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of frequent packaging waste coming out from multiple homes and simultaneously save some money. You can either visit a zero waste shop near you, buy online or even visit your local supermarket. Of course, do so once the social distancing rules have been relaxed, as you do not want to put yourself or someone else in harm’s way.
Whether you are looking for tea bags, coffee, rice, fruit or vegetables nowadays most supermarkets will offer larger quantities. Therefore, if you normally buy 1kg bag of rice every month, this month, buy a 5kg bag of rice. Then share it with another person. In this manner you will discard one bag of rice over a longer period of time.
Find Easy Zero Waste Swaps on Amazon.
Zero Waste Shopping
We are all used to shopping with reusable bags and limiting our use of single use disposable plastics such as straws, party plates, plastic cutlery and disposable cups. Whilst most of our fruit and vegetables still come in plastic wrapping, you can go a step further and buy it loose to reduce packaging waste.
Additionally, if you are accustomed to buying prepacked or ready meals in trays, pick up foods that are in a tray with a recycling symbol and the numbers 1 to 6. These trays are widely recyclable in the UK. Black trays are not recyclable; therefore steer clear of food wrapped in black trays.
A Friendly Tip
It is worthy to note, that biodegradable or compostable packaging is not process able everywhere. Therefore even if you place it in the recycling box, it will end up in the general waste pile ready for incineration. Check your local recycling services to see if they can accept biodegradable or compostable packaging.
Finally – Save Money while Saving the Planet
Do you want to engage with a community of beginners learning about how to achieve a sustainable lifestyle whilst saving money? Join our Eco Home and Garden Ideas for Beginners Facebook Group.
It is a group to help you save money whilst on your journey to natural and eco-friendly living.
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