Minimalism, Zero-Waste, and the kitchen.

Alright guys, today has totally made my entire month…I finally found a store that will willingly let me bring in jars to tare…and they have a large selection of bulk dry goods as well as bulk LIQUIDS!

Now, granted, the liquids only consist of honey, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and a few different oils…But it is better than nothing. I won’t have to buy balsamic vinegar or honey with plastic lids anymore! Woohoo!

The store I am now going to frequent for half of my shopping needs is Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, they are a grocery store that has quite a few locations here in the midwest. The other half of my shopping will continue at my local health store, since they have better deals on organic produce as well as juice.

I found the store by accident, I was driving in that direction and happened to see it while on the way to drop our car off at the auto shop, I googled it and I will say their website is really aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. www.freshthyme.com

They have locations in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska….so if you live in one of those states and have been struggling to find a store I would recommend checking them out 🙂

If any of you are on this journey towards minimal waste with me you will know the struggle of #1 finding a store with unwrapped organic produce (half of the grocery chains INDIVIDUALLY wrap ALL of their organic produce in plastic- insert face palm here-), #2 finding a store that let’s you bring your own small bags and jars, and #3 finding it all for a decent price. I have finally found all 3!

In this past year I have gradually moved from a life filled with things and packaging, to one that is both Minimalist as well as Zero-Waste, and most recently Vegan. I now have found that in my journey I have things in place that make zero-wasting a no-brainer. It is now simply a part of my every day routine.

I think one of the biggest sources of waste is our kitchens, for some reason most of us have hoarded away a ridiculous amount of tools promising to make us amazing chefs…as though a fancy knife will improve my knife skills lol…and we buy tons of packaged processed foods that sit in our cupboards until inevitably they are eaten or they expire and are disposed of. Add to that the food waste that ends up in the trash, making it really smelly, and the kitchen is a place that invites stress more than relaxation.

My kitchen used to look a little something like this….

The pantry was bursting with boxes, cans, and jars of every shape and size with their brightly advertised labels plastered across the sides. The cupboards were crammed full of one-hit wonder items like grilled-cheese makers and bunt pans. The fridge was barely accessible with all of the food that was stored away in plastic Tupperware. Add to that the hoard of cleaning supplies that was sitting under the kitchen sink and it was overwhelming.

WIN_20160102_153232(It’s so much prettier now)

As you know, I live with other people so I do have a limited amount of kitchen space to begin with, but I found that by minimizing my own things, and by being the main shopper for the house, I have slowly made progress and now our kitchen looks a lot more pleasing to the eye. (Not to mention it is WAY more eco-friendly)

We now have glass jars filled with our items such as flour, chocolate covered almonds, flax seeds, peanuts, corn starch, etc. Half of the pantry still has cans, but the top half is adorned with my colorful mason jars with all of my cooking needs. I have a glass bowl filled with fresh colorful produce that serve as a table decoration as well as a tasty snack too.

Simple ways your food/kitchen and making it Zero-Waste:

  1. Define your diet– by this I mean write it down, whether you are lactose intolerant or you hate broccoli, you should have a specific list of the things you DO eat on a regular basis (by this I don’t mean writing down a specific brand but rather a category of food i.e Cookies, bread, etc.)…..For me it would look something like this- Mostly Vegan (with the exception of honey) diet sans grains, mostly whole foods, organic. Things I eat on a regular basis would be salads with tons of toppings, many different potato and onion dishes, as well as tons of fresh fruits and veggies. This way I have an actual list of the foods I am going to eat and prepare on a regular basis. (This helps minimize your food waste)
  2. Nix the plastics– Store your foods in glass jars with either glass attached lids, or metal lids. I specifically use a bunch of mason jars for most food storage but I also have a few with attached lids. I NEVER heat up my food in plastic containers (It off-leeches chemicals into your food), always glass. The jars also make it easy to pack a salad in a jar and eat it right out of the jar for lunches or snacks. They are also incredibly easy because most of the lids are interchangeable between all of the jars.
  3. Buy what you can in bulk or loose- Whatever you can find loose or in bulk bins, buy it that way instead of in packaging. If you are lucky enough to find a store like I did today that will let you bring jars and has bulk liquids, great! But if you don’t, then work with what you have access to, the order of preference would be…1) Buying loose or in bulk 2) Buying in glass or metal containers with glass or metal lids. 3) Buying in glass or metal containers with plastic lids that hopefully can be recycled.
  4. Condense your utensils- Do you have 3 or 4 things that can do the same basic function? Condense it down to 1. Why would you keep 5 spoons for cooking when you only have 2 hands? Pare it down and watch the drawers magically become user-friendly and clean. The same goes for bowls, plates, cake pans, skillets, etc. How many could you possibly use at one time with 4 burners and the oven?
  5. Compost- I did another post on this topic entirely, check it out here. Compost is the best way to get rid of food scraps without sending them to landfill. I keep an old washed out kitty litter bucket under my sink for all my food scraps (produce scraps, I don’t compost meat scraps since I don’t have any with my diet, but I have heard that you can compost them as long as it is enclosed so no critters invade your yard), then when it gets full I take it out to the compost bucket outside. This also has the effect of getting rid of that stinky kitchen garbage pail.

    WIN_20160102_153213
    This is the old bucket on the left, I have now upgraded to a larger bucket under the sink.

I am at the point where I personally don’t need a garbage pail in the kitchen, though we do still have one. I started a week ago keeping my personal garbage in a small metal bucket so I can evaluate what little trash I am still producing and try to minimize it. (post on that coming soon) 99% of my kitchen “waste” now goes to either the recycling bucket or the compost (which I use to help grow more veggies!)

The kitchen, or at least my portion of it, is now incredibly simplified and aesthetically and ecologically pleasing. I am especially excited now that I will be able to buy my liquids in bulk as well, minimizing my recycling as well.

Do you have any other tips for simplifying your kitchen? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

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3 thoughts on “Minimalism, Zero-Waste, and the kitchen.

  1. Good Morning, I am reading your blog for a while now and I would like to nominate you for the favorite Blog Award. If you want to accept it and answer the questions I can translate them for you since my blog is in german.
    🙂 Cheers, Marie

    Like

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