journey to zero waste: the kitchen edition

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Barbie was wrong. Life in plastic – is not fantastic. While it was fun to shoot this photo of me literally drowning in plastic, it’s scarily representative of my life.

A year ago, I learned about the zero waste lifestyle through “Trash is for Tossers” blogger Lauren Singer, who can fit 4 years of her trash into a 16 oz. mason jar. Four years of trash. In one little glass jar. 

To fathom how this is possible, it’s important to understand that living zero waste doesn’t mean creating no waste. Instead, it means generating as little waste as possible; and when there is waste, it’s recycled or composted, not shipped away to a landfill.

While I want to live zero waste for myself and the environment, obviously, it’s not an overnight operation. That’s why I have created this blog: to document and share my efforts, and to say hello to anyone on a similar journey. Starting with my kitchen, I want to share with you five major areas where I – and anyone – can easily perform waste liposuction.

400 plastic bags vs. 1 reusable bag

Plastic bags are the herpes of plastic pollution. They end up everywhere – crumpled up in dark corners of your home, stuck in trees, even floating like lifeless swans down the local river. The average American uses more than 400 plastic grocery bags a year. What if we could use the same bag, 400 times?

Perhaps you live somewhere where you receive a discount for every reusable bag you bring. In some places, grocery stores no longer provide bags, so customers must bring their own.

Where I live, plastic bags are everywhere, and we can return them to the store to be recycled. But I’ve simplified my life even more with reusable bags. They’re not only versatile, but also much sturdier. They won’t tear and send your precious cargo crashing to the pavement. (R.I.P. eggs)

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The bag saga continues

Even though I bid grocery bags goodbye, I was still accumulating those (flimsy af) produce bags – you know, the thin tear-off-the-roll bags that keep your apples separate from the oranges.

So I bought reusable produce bags from Purifyou and Earthwise. They’re machine-washable and weigh the same as plastic ones (0.6 oz) so you don’t have to ask the cashier to tare them when they’re weighing your fruits and vegetables. They’re so convenient that I bought 2 sets for my family as Christmas gifts.

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Breaking up with plastic wrap

Plastic wrap was like a bad boyfriend: Too clingy. Funny-smelling. Touched my food too much. Thankfully, it was absolutely replaceable.

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I suck at ripping plastic wrap.

Every day, I would stretch plastic wrap over my leftovers, zap it in the microwave and watch in apprehension as it softened into a greasy film over my food.

I would also microwave food in plastic tupperware, but turns out even BPA-free plastic is likely leeching hormone-disrupting chemicals into food.

To store and microwave food, I use tempered glass bowls with rubber lids. They’re sturdy, microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe AND oven-safe. I store all leftovers in these and have even frozen homemade ice cream and baked cakes in them.

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Then, there’s bee’s wrap, a “natural” plastic wrap made of beeswax-soaked cotton. It works for covering bowls and wrapping oddly-shaped things like bread and cheese. It’s a great concept, although the material is a bit stiff and you can’t microwave it.

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Is anyone else going zero waste, or currently living zero waste? I would love to connect with you and hear your story. In particular, I want to know: what do you do with your food scraps? I’m still figuring out how to compost at home, especially when there’s a thick layer of snow on the ground (New Englander problems)!

Next up on Journey to Zero Waste:
The Baker’s Edition

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