Zero Waste - Where to Start
So, you’ve decided you’re going to try and work towards a goal of Zero Waste but where do you start?
Remember Zero Waste is all about the 5 Rs:
Very few people will ever manage to be Zero Waste and that’s fine because if talking about Zero Waste makes people think about what they’re using and everyone tries to make one or two small changes, the more the better, that’s a step in the right direction. Something is definitely better than Nothing in this case.
Zero Waste in the Kitchen
The Kitchen is a good place to start and Cling Film and plastic sandwich bags seem like logical items to start with.
Cling film was first sold to households in 1953 and since then we’ve become very reliant on it for wrapping our sandwiches covering food leftovers and it’s just become part of most of our everyday lives.
Plastic bags are inexpensive, lightweight, durable and made of plastic, which does not readily biodegrade. Much of the plastic ever made still exists. Worldwide, as many as one trillion plastic bags are used each year and less than 5 percent of plastic is recycled. In the United States, according to the EPA, they use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create.
Cling film and plastic sandwich bags are also a single-use product, meaning it is ending up in landfill and in our oceans where it is causing harm to the environment and nature so isn’t it time we stopped using it.
10 Alternatives to Cling Film
1. Plastic tupperware – if you already have plastic tupperware containers then carry on using them.
2. Glass jars – these are great for storing leftover food in the fridge.
3. Beeswax wraps – these are becoming very popular and you can even make your own (see below). You can also buy them online my favourites are Buzzcloth they are great for wrapping things like cheese but don’t use them to wrap meat as you can only wash them in cool water. You can also use them to cover bowls and you can get eco friendly elastic bands to keep them in place.
4. A really simple solution for storing stuff in the fridge is simply to put a plate over a bowl – just like your Grandma used to do.
5. Bowl overs – cotton covers made especially to pop over bowls and pit in the fridge. They’re washable so can be used again and again.
6. Tea towel or fabric cloth – great for wrapping things as they are easy to wash.
7. Stainless steel containers – you can buy airtight sealable stainless steel containers which are great for storing meat in as you can wash them at a high temperature.
8. Butchers paper – this is great for wrapping meat in the fridge, just make sure it’s unbleached and doesn’t have any petroleum based coating.
9. Damp cloth – if you need to put some dough in the fridge to rest put it in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to stop it drying out.
10. Reusable Silicone Wraps and Lids – not the first option on my list but the aim of stopping using cling film is to stop using single use plastics. These silicone wraps and lids can last for years and be reused again and again so definitely worth considering.
Now if you can’t find an alternative to cling film from that list I’d be very surprised.
6 Alternatives to Sandwich Bags
Now you’ve eliminated clingfilm from your kitchen what are you going to put your sandwiches in for yours and the kids lunches.
Here are my favourite alternatives to plastic sandwich bags.
1. Beeswax wraps – the perfect alternative for wrapping sandwiches in, and if you make your own they work out quite cheap.
2. Stainless Steel Bento Boxes – great for packed lunches.
3. Cloth sandwich bags – you can get lots of lovely designs and some of my favourites are from Eco Snack Wrap wrap and Re Wrap It.
4. Recycled paper bag – a very simple alternative.
5. Reusable zip bag – One reusaeable zip bag can replace up to 300 disposable sandwich bags!
6. Silicone – flexible, airtight, watertight “bbagz” are made of platinum silicone, are multipurpose, and will last indefinitely.
How to Make Beeswax Wraps
What you’ll Need:
1. Soft / lightweight fabric squares or rectangles, preferably 100% cotton.
2. Natural beeswax block or pellets, you’ll need around 1 heaped dessertspoon for a 12inch square.
3. Tin foil or Baking Parchment to line a baking tray.
What to Do:
1. Cut your fabric, preferably with pinking shears so it doesn’t fray.
2. Shave a small amount of bee’s wax or using the beeswax pellets, sprinkle this as evenly as possible over the fabric, try and get it even.
3. Place on to some tin foil or baking parchment in a medium- hot oven (190 degrees C) for approximately 5 until wax has melted.
4. Check to make sure that the fabric is covered in the melted wax and if necessary brush the wax to the edges to make sure it’s all covered.
5. Lift them off the tin foil or baking parchment and hang them somewhere to dry, a coat hanger works well.
How to look after them:
1. Store in a cool place.
2. Don’t wrap meat in it as you can only wash in cool water.
3. Wipe clean with a warm damp soft sponge
4. Don’t put it in the microwave, oven or anywhere warm unless you need to re-wax it.
5. Don’t store meat or fish in the waxed fabric.
6. When it’s reached the end of its life you can compost it.
If you would like some more tips on how to reduce plastic in your Kitchen why not take a look at my Blog Zero Waste Starting in the Kitchen