With Zero Waste Week coming to a close, we’re looking beyond this week to see how we can continue to reduce our waste in our everyday lives. While at Cookery School, our kitchens are plastic-free and our food waste is already limited, we’ve taken the time to look into our personal lives, looking for opportunities where we could cut down even further. We know from experience in our kitchens that it’s nigh-impossible to be zero-waste overnight, so don’t expect to – instead, think of it as a journey, in which this week has been your first step!
Here are four of our easiest tips for moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
Conduct an inventory
When was the last time you went through your pantry, or bathroom cabinet? Putting aside an hour or two to figure out exactly what you have – and what you don’t – can go a long way in reducing your waste. It stops you from buying duplicates, while reminding you of what you should be using up first. Is there a wayward can of tomatoes, or some leftover rice that should probably be used sooner rather than later?
It also helps to check out your fridge every few days, taking note of expiry dates and the state of your produce. Knowing that your carrots are on the way to ‘Mould-town’ may be all the push you need to transform them into a beautiful carrot cake, reducing your food waste.
Shop with a list…and don’t shop hungry!
In a perfect world, we’d buy direct from the farmer and never use plastic packaging again. However, for the moment, this isn’t a reality so a supermarket shop may be on the cards. Before you step through the doors, make sure you’re armed with a list (hopefully inspired by your inventory). This will stop you throwing miscellaneous items into your basket or trolley, some of which could go to waste later on. It’s also worth eating before you shop – there’s nothing worse than making food decisions when hungry! You’re more likely to make impulse buys, which aren’t going to help your #zerowaste goals.
If you are one of the lucky ones that has a bulk store or farmers’ market near you, consider investing in some glass containers that you can refill – this removes the need for food packaging altogether.
Invested in a reusable bottle, coffee cup, lunch box and straw, but find yourself leaving at least one of them at home regularly? It’s time to use your phone’s alarm or calendar. Set a reminder at around the time you leave home every day to make sure you’ve packed all the essentials. If you find yourself leaving your lunchbox in the work fridge or your coffee cup on your desk, do the same for when you leave. Soon enough, it will become a habit and you won’t be forced to buy a plastic bottle/disposable coffee cup/Pret sandwich in a moment of panic.
Embrace your green thumb
One way to reduce your waste is to start generating your own produce, rather than buying it from elsewhere. Why not spend the weekend establishing a small herb garden? At Cookery School, our rooftop allotment supplements our herb stores all year long, meaning we don’t have to waste packaging in order to use the likes of basil, thyme, mint, coriander and chives.
Mint is a great starter herb as it is quite hardy so will forgive you if you forget to water it for a while. Start with a little pot on your balcony or in your courtyard and soon enough you could be the owner of a flourishing garden, no grass required!