It can feel so overwhelming to even start to think about reducing your waste, especially when it is something that you didn’t even think about before. If you want to reduce your waste it can feel impossible when you do not have access to a bulk store. So here’s some help on how to start your zero waste kitchen without a bulk store!
For those of you new to the zero waste lifestyle, zero waste simply means to send nothing to landfill. It does not literally mean that you don’t ever produce any rubbish! Something might be trash, such as an empty tin can, but it is easily recycled. Since it doesn’t end up in landfill, it is classed as zero waste. It is also good to remember that zero waste is not an ultimate goal, but instead is a journey. A journey that you are on every single day.
A good place to start is looking at the rubbish you are putting out every week. Likelihood is, you’ll probably find that plastic packaging from the kitchen make up a large part of it. Plastic packaging from food usually can’t be recycled, so it ends up in landfill where it will stay forever. Starting with these single-use plastic items in the kitchen is a really good place to begin.
A zero waste kitchen often brings up thoughts of people filling up their jars at bulk stores. But what if you don’t have one near you? Here are some great tips to get you started on your journey and how to start your zero waste kitchen!
Before buying lots of new food in eco-friendly packaging, it is best to just simply use up what you have. I know I’m guilty of forgetting that I already have something at the back of the cupboard. I end up buying it again, and before I know it I have 4 bags of open all-purpose flour. Organise your kitchen first!
This is a great swap you can do in any supermarket. Instead of buying tomato ketchup in a plastic bottle, buy it in a glass one instead. Same goes for oil, juice, etc. It’s also great to stock up on sauces in jars, and pantry basics in tins. If you don’t have a bulk food store near you, it’s great to be able to buy pulses and beans for example in recyclable tin cans. We also often buy other basics such as oats, pasta and rice in cardboard boxes. The frozen section can be great for buying items in cardboard too! It’s not perfect, but at least we know these items can be recycled or composted and will not end up in landfill.
If you are all about those aesthetics and enjoy decanting your food into jars, try and use what you already own instead of going out and buy new! Old sauce jars, pickle jars, jam jars, etc all work great washed out and reused. If you do find you need some more or bigger jars, definitely visit your local secondhand shop. I always find really good jars for a fraction of the price new! New items always require lots of energy and resources so it’s always best to try and find secondhand first.
In France most of the fresh produce is unpackaged in supermarkets which is fantastic. Unfortunately, if you live in the UK, it is tough to find fruit and vegetables not wrapped in plastic in a supermarket! If you find your supermarket is no good for unwrapped fresh produce, it’s a great idea to take a trip to your local farmers market. They will usually come loose and cost by weight, so take reusable bags to stock up on what you need. It’s also great to support local farmers, and buy what’s in season too.
One of the biggest ways to reduce your kitchen waste is to simply ditch the convenience products and make things yourself. Convenience comes in plastic unfortunately so if you can take a little bit of extra time and make your own, it will save so much waste. We love to make things such as biscuits, cakes, and granola from scratch as a few examples to reduce our plastic waste!
You will get better at it as you keep practicing, so much is trial and error to get it right. In the past we have been very proud to buy things in cardboard to only open up the box and find it was wrapped in plastic inside anyway! Don’t beat yourself up if you still have to buy things in plastic, it is a journey and any reduction makes a big impact in the long run. Remember: we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, but a lot of people doing it imperfectly.