A greener kitchen
Storing food in glass and stainless steel containers is an easy change and one that you can transition through over time, replacing your storage vessels one by one. Find a second use for old plastic containers (such as storing nuts and bolts in the garage). Switch out cling-wrap for beeswax wraps, containers or tea towels. Two of my favourite Australian online shops for zero waste and plastic free household options are Biome and Shop Naturally.
Get creative and learn to make a second meal out of leftovers and scraps, or freeze it if you can’t eat it in time. The more I learn about reducing waste in my own home, the more creative I’ve become with my cooking and using as much of my produce as I can, such as keeping the skin on potatoes or roasting up broccoli stalks. Bananas can also be frozen in their skins – no plastic required! Freeze onion and garlic skins along with veggie scraps in a jar to make a stock with later.
It took a few years after moving into my own place to set-up a worm farm on my balcony. I had always imagined that it would be a confusing and complex process, however the truth is worm farms are incredibly simple to set-up with just a few basic materials. It may help to find a friend who already has one who can show you their set-up, or if there is plenty of information available online as well. You can save your kitchen scraps from going into landfill by adding them to your worm farm. If you don’t have a garden to use the nutrient rich soil created at the end, just give it to a friend or someone in the neighbourhood, or through a local community Facebook group.
Invest in quality cookware that will last you a lifetime. I personally love solidteknics. Don’t fall for novelty gadgets or items you don’t actually need – so many things can be done by hand or without gadgets.
Coffee & Tea
For use loose leaf tea to avoid plastic lined teabags – just make sure the tea comes in glass or cardboard packaging, or buy packaging free from a bulk food store. I use a small stovetop Bialetti machine with organic ground coffee, and the used coffee grounds then go into my worm farm.
Grow what you can and learn new cooking skills
Grow what you can, even if it’s just one pot of your favourite herbs. Growing a little or a lot teaches us to appreciate nature and our ecosystem. It’s fresher, plastic free, and has no food miles. I really enjoy learning new skills, whether it’s how to make sourdough bread, fermenting or preserving food. The Cornersmith in Sydney have lots of great workshops to check out (they also make a great zero waste gift for someone).
Switch from bottled soap and cleaning products to bars with minimal or no packaging and refillable products. You can refill cleaning products at local bulk food stores, such as The Source, or even make your own. Choose materials that can be composted at the end of their life (such as this scrub pad)
Swap paper towels for a tea towel or rag (great use for old clothing you no longer need). I keep a pile of old tea towels or rags to wipe up the bench or clean spills with. If you do require paper towel, I suggest purchasing from Who Gives a Crap. They are 100% forest friendly, arrive in a cardboard box, and 50% of their profits go to helping build toilets and improving sanitation in the developing worlds.
When you are close to running out of an item, do some research on a greener alternative. Can I buy this in different packaging, from a company with good values, or make it myself?