Zero-waste kitchen uncovered #zero waste week, #zero waste every day
It all starts with food. Our mood, energy, health, and our environment are a result of what we eat. So it only makes sense to start in the kitchen, if we want to make any substantial life changes.
Aiming for a zero-waste kitchen will make you think of the many complexities of our food system. While reusables and lasting packages will become your best friends, you will find that it is not simply a switch from plastic to textile bags.
Farm-to-table or farm-to-fork will most probably replace your shopping at conventional supermarket. Food transparency, traceability, quality, freshness and even fairness will take the lead. Package-free and bulk stores, local grocers and farmers, community agriculture or just your neighbour's orchard will be in your spotlight. Because this is where you can best shop package-free and healthy. Making a switch to a zero waste kitchen will bring you a whole new positive lifestyle filled with goodies you might have been missing.
Introducing a group of zero waste enthusiasts to Prague's first package free store, Bezobalu.org
On this mission, you will discover that:
1) You cannot go zero waste without going healthy
Naturally you will want to start fixing your own food and will marvel at those who can do so - be it food craft masters, local producers or just your grannie. Avoiding packaged ingredients and processed foods, will make you come back to your kitchen and cook from scratch. You will question long paragraphs of ingredients on processed food wrapping and will opt for simplicity that both your brain and stomach can digest.
Your zero-waste kitchen will lead you to healthier washing, since wrapping foods in textiles full of toxins will not do the trick. Ecological detergents will be your next logical step.
2) You will save good cash
Avoiding repeated purchase of throwaway items, non-reusable foils, kitchen towels or paper napkins will save some tree-cutting, energy and money that you can then re-invest in food quality. Ample research shows that washables (napkins, towels, bags) are far greener than throwaway items. Besides, you will learn you need less stuff once you ditch the trashing habit.
Another saving might come from avoided purchase of processed foods and condiments that you will slowly realise you do not need. Fresh or quality dry seasoning can do wonders for the taste of your food and for your health. You will cherish your fresh herb pots and question refrigeration. Have I mentioned I use a fridge really sparingly if at all? :-)
Surprisingly, however, the benefits of zero waste living go beyond health, ecological and financial aspects.
3) You will become more playful and creative
Dictated routines and disposing behaviours that corporations teach us for the sake of selling more, fast and from far away will become obsolete during this quest. Although there might be given inspirations and guidelines, there is not just one way of succeeding. You might find your own style and new tactics that disallow waste from being born. Because the best waste is not the one best sorted but the one that is never made. And let's face it, a true zero-waste kitchen is not about stocking up on every fancy reusable item, its rather doing more with what we already have (e.g. glass bottles, jars) or living without unnecessary items (e.g. drinking straws).
Ah, and when saying "reuse" lets not fall into a trap. Zero wasters do never say: disposable plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws are ok if reused! Despite prolonging their use, plastic will inherently become everlasting trash. And you probably know by now that there is a very little plastic that actually gets recycled.
Ceramic plates replace single-use aluminium or plastic foils. Pilling plates on top of each other creates space. Homemade sprouting glasses made of reused coffee jars allow for fresh greens even in winter. Lettuce wrapped in a wet textile kitchen towel stays fresh (of course, you may let your lettuce sit in bowl of water instead).
4) You will create life
Every time you compost you vote for new life. The Earth's nutrients are disappearing very fast due to human activities. Besides, modern living motivates us to landfill valuable nutrients that belong to the Earth. From landfills, nutrients do not go back to the cycle, they are lost forever. Natural composting is the best way to bring life back to stressed soil. Fortunately, composting is possible even in urban spaces.
My vermi-compost that works wonders on a tiny balcony or even indoors.
5) You will have more time, space and peace of mind
This is probably one of my favourites. With zero waste lifestyle, you will become unburdened with unnecessary items and belongings that take your time and space. Western home kitchens often match professional ones, but ironically, most of our daily food comes from elsewhere (street kiosks, restaurants, supermarket's ready to eat boxes). Besides, we collect kitchen accessories to "save our time" in the kitchen, yet we do not have time to be in our kitchen because we are busy making the money for all the comfort items.
Simplifying, will eliminate your kitchen clutter that claims your space, time and attention.
6) Ultimately, you will make valuable connections
Sharing and interacting is second nature in the waste-less world, since the extra kitchen stuff or food surplus is often a treasure for others. You will meet like-minded people on this quest and your life will open up to a whole new dimension of collective and often moneyless consumption.
And if zero waste seems not to be a big enough change for you, consider the foods that you eat since avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on the Earth.