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Zero waste has been a buzzword for a while now, and it can be a little scary to think about your life if you were to eliminate all the waste that you produce every day. According to the EPA, each person in the United States generates about 4.4 pounds of waste each day, of which about 1.5 pounds is recycled or composted. [Source]
That sounds like a lot, but you can see how easily it adds up: your Starbucks cup, muffin wrapper, napkins, La Croix cans, food packaging, uneaten food, personal care waste like q-tips and Kleenex.
While I am most definitely not close to living a zero waste lifestyle, we do try to reduce the waste we generate on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be all or nothing to make a difference!
In this new series, I'm going to share tips for reducing the waste you produce in different areas of your home and life. Today's topic: THE KITCHEN!
My challenge to you:
Adopt a few of these tips in your own life. Start a new habit, make our Earth a little happier, and feel good knowing you are making a positive impact on how you'll leave the planet for the next generation.
9 WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE IN YOUR KITCHEN:
- DITCH THE ZIPLOCKS: I know, they are so convenient. But, they are so wasteful, especially if you only use them once! There are many other ways to carry around food like reusable bags, mason jars, or Tupperware. I'm not perfect at this, but we definitely go through WAY fewer Ziplock bags these days!
- COMPOST: Instead of throwing out those food scraps, napkins, toilet paper rolls, and even pizza boxes, compost them! Hennepin County started a compost program in the past few years, so even if you don't want to compost in your own yard, you can use a county-provided bin and they will haul it away. All you need to do is have a small compost pail in your kitchen to put your scraps into. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
- RECYCLE: Duh, right? Not recycling is so 1990. We all have recycling programs in our cities, there is ZERO reason you shouldn't be doing it. I'm always surprised when people throw recyclable materials in to a garbage can. Hello?! Did you not learn about recycling in kindergarten? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
- ONLY BUY WHAT YOU'LL EAT: Over buying food is something I struggle with, especially produce. I almost always have some produce that is wilting in my fridge, but I really try hard to not let it go to waste. I'll either freeze it to use later, cook it up and use in lunches the rest of the week, or adjust my meal plan to squeeze it in before it goes bad. Did you know that nearly 50% of produce in the US is thrown away?! Whoa, that is depressing. [Source] If you are going to throw away food, compost it!
- LIMIT PACKAGING: When shopping, look for food packaged in recyclable materials, or better yet, not packaged at all. And please, for the love of the planet, stop using those plastic produce bags! Get some reusable mesh laundry bags from the dollar tree and use those if you feel you need a bag, but the plastic ones need to go! [Other reusable bags]
- REPLACE FOIL & PLASTIC WRAP: I'll admit, I haven't done this yet, but we're making progress. We do use a silicone baking mat in place of tin foil when cooking things on our sheet pan, but still rely on tin foil quite a bit. I think if we grab another silicone mat in a smaller size, we could make a big dent in our foil usage! Most of our bowls have lids, so we don't use a ton of saran wrap, but we do use it to pound chicken flat once in a while.
- INVEST IN GLASS: The next time you go to buy storage containers, choose glass over plastic. It'll last longer, it doesn't stain from food, and there are no yucky chemicals that could leach into your food when you heat it up. We love our Pyrex bowls and these containers to store leftovers for reheating.
- GET RID OF DISPOSABLE DISHES: I know, dishes suck! Using disposable for a big party makes sense, but maybe you can vow to use washable dishes the rest of the time. Plus, disposable stuff adds up in cost!
- GO CLOTH: Cloth napkins will save a lot of paper towel and napkin waste (even though they are compostable!). It will increase water usage from washing, so it's a trade off. We don't put napkins or paper towels on the table at meals, and use our Norwex cloths to wipe the kids' hands and faces after meals. We also use old towels and rags for spills or stain removal to reduce the amount we're throwing away.