Zero-waste Living: Quick Tips and Recipes To Get Started
The history of zero waste started over 20 years ago. Then called No Waste, this modern lifestyle has gained traction as a legitimate eco-movement in recent years. Zero-waste living at its core, means producing little to no waste that ends up in landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Zero waste isn’t just for people, but it’s also for manufacturing companies that aspire to apply this practice in their manufacturing, packaging, and other production aspects.
If you’re looking to live a zero-waste lifestyle, you need to start small and ease yourself into this philosophy. Need tips on how to do this? Check out how by starting where it counts: going zero waste at home, in terms of your food and cooking choices.
Take baby steps
Going into the zero-waste lifestyle without first understanding what it entails can be overwhelming. Before you start making any drastic changes, have a look at your overall lifestyle choices, first. Take a good look at what you’re throwing away and perform a trash audit. With this type of audit, create a list of items that you throw away and do a tally each item.
If you’ve noticed, much of your trash comes from groceries; in which case you can start your zero-waste lifestyle journey there. Each time you go out for your weekly or monthly groceries, take a look at the packaging of the items you purchase. Are they packaged in plastic containers, styrofoam boxes, or plastic wrapping? If all these check out, you might want to avoid putting these items in your shopping cart since they can add more to the waste produced every day.
Also, be aware of the groceries you’re buying. Are you buying ready-made orange juice in plastic bottles? Look for biodegradable and recyclable packaging such as cardboard. If you notice that your supermarket uses plastic bags at the checkout counter, bring your own reusable cloth bags; so, you can reduce the amount of plastic you bring home.
Are you going for a zero-waste home? Take a good look around your kitchen and check for items that you can replace with more reusable options. For small kitchen designs, filling the limited space with only the essentials can help you reduce the amount of ready-made food you’ll be purchasing. Is your family a fan or plastic utensils or one-time use paper plates? Perhaps you can replace some plastic kitchen wares with steel or wood varieties.
Replace these items as soon as you can, and hand wash them after every use. If you’re not a big fan of washing the dishes, invest in a good dishwasher and dishwasher-friendly kitchen items for a zero-waste home.
Take a good long look at your fridge and declutter
Next, take a good look at what you have stored in your fridge and freezer. Consider organizing your fridge. Take stock of what you already have; so, you don’t end up buying two of the same items. You can also organize by placing older items on the front of your fridge; this way, you know you should consume these, first. If you’re serious about having a zero-waste lifestyle, have a weekly inventory of what’s in your fridge and only buy what you need, when you need it.
Improve your food storage
Another way you can have a zero-waste lifestyle is to avoid throwing away spoiled food that you’ve forgotten in your fridge. You can do this by storing your food by category at the optimum locations in your fridge.
Contrary to popular belief, each section of your fridge can make food last longer, depending on the type of food. Are you planning to store nuts or seeds for later use? Place them in the freezer, to lengthen their shelf life. Avoid placing meat in the freezer, as this not only lowers the quality of the meat, but it can also cause you to forget that you stored it there, in the first place.
Cooking can give you room for a creative zero-waste lifestyle. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced for human consumption is thrown away or lost every year. Be part of the solution by ensuring that you minimize your food waste at home. When cooking your meals, make sure that you only cook as much as you need to eat.
Speaking of leftovers, why not get into the habit of repurposing your leftovers for future meals? Did you have chili for dinner and had some leftovers in the pot? Save it for tomorrow and prepare it as a breakfast taco.? How about those leftover vegetables you didn’t include in your salad? Why not stir fry these and serve as a vegetable side dish to complement your leftover chili? Don’t be afraid to experiment with your leftovers. You might even come up with something unexpectedly delicious.
On the flip side, here are some zero-waste recipes you can cook at home:
Easy to eat, and even easier to make. Zero waste peanut butter takes less than ten minutes to make and only has four ingredients.
- 3-4 cups roasted peanuts
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon peanut oil
Place the roasted peanuts in your food processor and blend for 3-5 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides. Add honey, once the peanuts reach a sawdust-like texture. Continue to blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture becomes too thick, add 1 teaspoon of peanut oil for a smoother consistency. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate.
Making vegetable broth using leftover vegetables is as easy as throwing them into a pot or slow cooker and boiling them, literally! Do away with your ready-made vegetable broth from the grocery. Instead, use your leftover garlic stems, onion stems, herbs, and unused whole vegetables.
Having a zero-waste lifestyle is not about how fast you can be zero waste but by how effective you can be. With these quick tips and easy recipes, you’ll have a good head start on your zero-waste lifestyle journey today!
About the Author
Patricia Evans—I am an Interior Designer, Residential Designer, Art Crafter, DIYer, and a full-time mother. I write about interior decorating, and I love working with shapes, shades, and spaces. I am also into green and simple living and enjoy cooking and having tea.