Going Zero-Waste in my kitchen

*** A Note from Me *** I have linked products that I purchased inorder to move towards a zero-waste life. I spent a lot of time researching, testing, and creating this blog post. I use Amazon Affiliate links and it would mean the WORLD to our little family if you shopped via our links. If you’re going to purchase any of these items that is! Thank you so much for supporting our little corner of the world. I hope you find this post extremely helpful. xoxo Kelly

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Time Spent converting kitchen : Approximately 10 hours

Money Spent :$140. This includes all shopping items, storage items, towels, and new scrub brushes.  ( and keep in mind I won’t need to buy new items (except for brushes eventually.) No more plastic storage, zip lock bags, aluminum foil, etc.

I have always been someone who likes to think about how my actions impact the environment. At least in my adult hood. It is part of the reason why we chose to cloth diaper our son and why I made a conscious effort to rid our house of chemicals and make sure everything we used was clean and safe.

But I hadn’t really thought a lot about waste. I have heard the horrible stories of our floating trash cities and it always made me cringe, but for some reason it hadn’t moved the needle enough to get me to stop an think about how I could change that in our household. Well, I had been seeing “zero waste” pop up a lot on the internet and it started to intrigue me. So I hoped online to start researching and stumbled upon “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson. I decided to purchase the e-book and I got SO sucked in. When I heard her say that their family of four only produced 1 quart of trash per year, I HAD TO KNOW how they accomplished this.

1.) Read Zero Waste Home : Below is a link via the picture.

Along the way of reading, I had a goal to just START. Start somewhere. I may not be going zero waste anytime soon, but we are making great strides. So I decided to tackle on room at a time in our home and see where we landed. I thought the kitchen was probably our biggest source of waste, so I started there. Here is what I learned a long the way, what I purchased, and how it’s looking in our home!

This gave the guidance to know where to start. I decided to tackle my pantry and decide what I thought I could give up or make on my own, what ingredients or items we no longer needed because of this, and what items I thought I could buy in bulk and store.

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Here is a pictures of where I started. It took me probably an hour to really sift through and organize, get rid of items, and figure out what I thought needed its own storage container etc.

2.) Purchase Zero waste storage :

So now comes the shopping/organizing piece. After carefully considering my options and doing some research, I decided to start hunting for glass jars that I could use to store all of my items. Based on all the information I gathered, I first head of to my local thrift stores to see what I could find. To my surprise I was able to score several great glass/ceramic options. Once I tapped out those resources, I relied on Home Goods and the container store to fill most of the rest. Below I am linking the jars that I purchased from Amazon if you rather just gather them all from there! Here are the categories of items I was looking to store.

  • Baking items such as flours, nuts, baking powder, nutritional yeast, sugar, etc.
  • Left overs
  • Snack items I prepared like cookies, crackers, bread, etc.
  • Two jars dedicated to the meat we would buy for the week. (Bea talks about why they still eat meat in her book.)

I purchased mostly Italian and French canning jars. They are aesthetically beautiful, really well made, and the seal is so good! I don’t want my bulk items going bad.

Le Parfait Jars : French Canning Jars that Bea recommends for meat storage. Going to the meat counter you want a wide mouthed jar the Deli Counter workers can easily slide your poultry, meat, fish into. These hold 1.5 lbs for reference. (Click the image to be taken to Amazon)

Bormioli Italian Canning Jars : These are what I found at Home Goods. Click on the image below to be take to Amazon). I love these and found them in all sizes!

Ball Glass Jars : another great and affordable option to store lots of items! I prefer the seal on the canning jars, but these can work for dry items and spices very well and are a great budget option if you’re having a hard time finding the others or affording them.

Below is a picture of the progress I have made thus far! Our pantry situation is far from perfect in our home as we rent, but we are making due!

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I purchased my chalk pens and chalk labels from The Container store. They are very affordable. If you’re looking to order from Amazon due to fast/free shipping, here are some options below!

3.) Create a Grocery shopping Kit

This piece is important especially when buying in bulk. I pieced together some items and am waiting for a few more bags to arrive. I completed my first shopping trip the other day at Whole foods and left feeling super successful! Below are the items I purchased for my kit.

  • I decided I wanted both cotton bags AND mesh bags that I could use for produce. I wanted to have the freedom to do larger shopping trips and to buy items like flour that would easily fall out of mesh bags.
  • I already had some reusable bags purchased in the past that I’ll be using and adding to as time/ money permits. I did buy one reusable shopping bag from Whole Foods while I was there.

Here is a picture of my shopping kit as it stands for now, and below are the links to the bags that I purchased from Amazon! So far I’m loving them and they fit the bill!

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You’ll see the two Le Parfait jars I linked earlier – those are for my meat. Here are the cotton bags that I purchased and am currently loving! Well made and affordable with great ratings. Another great thing about these is that they have the tare weight on them already – this is the weight the cashier has to subtract to get the proper weight for your items. This saves ALOT OF TIME. In the future I will bring some extra jars for bulk Peanut Butter or Olives, etc. Wet items that can’t go in bags.

Here are the mesh ones I ordered that also have the tare weight. The great thing about these is the cashier can already see the PLU number on the produce inside the bag – another time and headache saver and makes for a happy transaction.

4.) Find recipes that are good for bulk buying

I suggest finding granola bars, cookies, bread, etc. recipes that you like and put together a note in your phone with all the links so that you have them on hand. Figure out if there are items you need to research in your area to find if they’re carried in bulk bins or decide which recipes aren’t practical to zero waste lifestyle. Keep things SIMPLE. That’s the name of this game. My absolute favorite Vegan website is The Minimalist Baker.  She makes 10 ingredient or less plant based recipes. That is exactly what you need inorder to be successful in this type of lifestyle. Many Zero-wasters are in fact vegan and forego all meat/dairy due to it not being compostable. That’s fair. We are already a gluten free/ dairy free family but will continue to get meat. My thought is — don’t  get more than you’ll eat. If we eat our meat every week, there’s nothing to throw away. Get boneless so you don’t have to throw away bones. Boom. Done.

We ate a vegan lifestyle for 1.5 years so I am already knowledgable on that cooking/life style. So falling back into a plant based recipe life isn’t took intimidating to me. I also LOVE to cook and bake. So that helps as well. If you have any questions around this, please feel free to leave me comments and I’ll get back to you with more resources!

5.) Don’t be too hard on yourself and go slowly

I’m tackling on room at a time for  a reason. I’m also being realistic about this journey as well. I have a husband who will want canned sodas – so we aren’t going to give that up. We will do our best to always recycle. We WILL keep using toilet paper. etc. BUT I did replace all paper towels with actual towels and replaced sponges with compostable brushes. That pretty much completes the kitchen portion. Both the brushes and towels I bought are linked in the pictures below. Start somewhere. Every little bit helps. Watch documentaries, Read Zero waste home, and do what you can! Every bit helps.