Zero Waste Tips: Part 1

Here are some zero waste tips to incorporate around your home. Let’s start in the kitchen, the heart of the home.

Kitchen

  1. Use alternatives to paper and plastic disposables. Put down those paper towels and drop those plastic sandwich baggies! Look for alternatives to those products that can only be used once or twice and then you ship them off to the landfill. Use reusable rags that can be washed in the washing machine (hang dry these guys to save electricity). Instead of plastic lunch containers and baggies, use stainless steel containers. Cling wrap and aluminum foil can be swapped out for beeswax moldable wraps. Take a look around your kitchen and see what can be replaced with a sustainable and reusable option.
  2. Buy in bulk or at the counter. Bring your reusable bags, jars, and bottles for dry goods, wet items, and liquids. If you know a place that will happily use your containers, don’t forget to bring them with you. If you’re not sure if your store will allow it, ask. It never hurts to ask. Reusable bags are good for small, dry goods like grains, nuts, and potatoes. Jars are good for meats, fish, butters, and cheese. Bottles are good for oils, shoyu, and castile soap.
  3. If you cannot find it bulk, find a supplier or make it yourself. Bring your jar to the ice cream shop (Ask if local shops will be able to fill your jar). Take a pillow case to the bakery for bread. That way you don’t take home the plastic bag. Bring your own bottles to wineries and breweries. Or if you can’t find certain things in bulk, make it yourself at home like salad dressings, jams, juice, or hummus.
  4. Shop the farmers market. Most vendors will take your egg cartons back and they’ll let you use your own reusable bags. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers.
  5. Learn to love tap water. Ditch the plastic bottles of water. If you live on catchment, invest in some heavy duty filtration system. As long as you boil the water, it’ll be safe to cook with. That and get your drinking water in bulk. See if you can get glass jugs, it’ll be heavier, but less waste.
  6. Use bulk alternatives of natural cleaning supplies. Castile soap can be used as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda can be used as a scrubber with a compostable cleaning brush. Purchase dishwasher detergent in bulk.
  7. Turn your trash can into a big compost keeper. Use the tiny composter from the stores as your trash can.
  8. Reinvent leftovers before they go bad. Use what recipes you have and only keep those that can be achieved with zero waste in mind. If you don’t like to eat the same meal twice, spice it up a bit and put your own twist on leftovers so it doesn’t waste.
  9. Invest in a pressure cooker. It halves the cooking time on most dishes.
  10. Some additional tips. Reuse single-side printed paper and receipts for grocery shopping and errand lists. Use your lettuce cleaning water as water for your plants. Open your oven after baking to warm your home in the winter.
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Zero Waste Cleaning

A lot of cleaning supplies that we purchase from the store are packaged in a plastic container and filled with chemicals. Here are some easy tips to reduce waste from your cleaning routine.

Multipurpose Cleaner
In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and 2 cups water. If you want a scent, add 10 to 20 drops of essential oil. Shake well before using.

Homemade Scrub
You can eliminate commercial bleach scrubs and plastic packaging with this recipe for sinks and countertops. Thoroughly mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup coarse salt in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Put in a container with a shaker lid. For extra whitening, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Cleaning Rags
Avoid using paper towels when cleaning, save money and use fabric squares from old socks, sheets, towels, or shirts. Cut them up and sew the edges, so they don’t fray and break apart in the wash.

Floor Cleaner
In a bucket, add a couple of drops of dish soap and warm water.

Stainless Steel Cleaner
Put a small amount of olive oil on a rag and rub onto stainless steel until shiny.

Room Spray
In a spray bottle, add filtered water and 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.