“Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use.”
– John Steinbeck
Check out these 10 ways to reduce kitchen waste. Not only will they help you live more sustainably, but some will even save you money.
1. Avoid processed foods. They often have double packaging (plastic bags or packets inside boxes), as well as much bigger packages than the size of the contents warrants. When you do buy processed foods, go for the larger package, assuming you’ll eat all of it. For instance, it saves money and plastic to buy yogurt in a big tub rather than several small ones.
2. Shop in the bulk section of the store. By bulk I mean not gigantic packages, but the stuff sold loose in bins. Not only can you do away with extra packaging, but in many cases you’ll save a lot of money. Bulk spices cost a fraction of what they do in a jar. If you bring your own jars and bottles to fill, you won’t have any packaging at all to dispose of. You may not have to shop at a health-food store to find bulk groceries; our Winco has a nice selection.
3. Buy loose produce (not bagged or boxed). If you need a container for small items such as green beans, bring your own reusable bag from home.
4. Compost. If you have a yard or a local curbside composting pick-up program, compost all your fruit and veggie peelings and scraps, tea bags/leaves, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells and other compostable materials. Here‘s some information on composting at home. If your city picks up your compostables, make sure you follow its guidelines.
5. Buy a refillable growler for your beer or hard cider. They come in quart sizes as well as the standard half gallon, and can be refilled with your favorite craft beverage.
6. Purchase milk in returnable glass bottles. I don’t see this in too many stores, but our Whole Foods carries it.
7. Use cloth instead of disposables. At the table, use cloth napkins. For cleaning, use rags rather than paper towels or sponges.
8. Avoid single-use coffee pods and filters. Instead of K-Cups, get a refillable pod that will fit in your coffee maker, and instead of paper filters, get reusable screen filter. Alternatively, brew coffee with a French press.
9. Get some reusable straws. I have a set of stainless straws I got on Etsy (no affiliation; just a happy customer). We have the cocktail size, but you can get tall straws as well as extra thick ones for smoothies.
10. Eat leftovers instead of throwing them out. If your family is anti-leftovers, be creative. Bake leftover pasta and sauce with some cheese for a tasty casserole. Top shepherd’s pie with your leftover mashed potatoes. Thicken yesterday’s bean soup and served over rice. Even if you have only a small amount left, you can have it for lunch the next day with another tiny leftover or perhaps a piece of fruit.