Wasting Less

In America the average family wastes $600 of food each year.

Our latest mission at Becoming a Minimalist is to move towards Zero Waste. It didn’t take me long to get enthused about throwing less trash away and wasting less food. The advantages are many.

Saving Money.We started shopping in the bulk isle more and refusing to buy the fancy packaged vegetables. Suddenly our grocery bill became less. We are lucky that our local chain store carries a multitude of bulk items including nuts, grains, flours, crackers, snack mix, seeds, pasta, beans, peanut butter, chocolate, and more. They also carry many vegetables and fresh fruit in bulk so that I can bring my cloth bag and get what I need.

Clear Food Storage. Now I store and even freeze food in mason jars. It is easy to see what we have, the pantry is always sufficiently organized, and every container is reusable. What’s not to like about glass? We don’t have to worry about nasty toxins getting into our food, and we can still tote food around on the go. Yes, you have to be a bit more mindful because it’s glass but isn’t your food precious anyway?

 Eating Healthier. We transitioned to a plant-based diet last spring and it’s been even better since we started our Zero Waste Journey. Buying whole foods in bulk is making us even more conscious about what we are putting in our mouths. About the only packaged thing we buy is our vegan meat substitutes and right now I am exploring recipes and tips on how to make all of that myself. Homemade granola has replaced processed, packaged cereal, fruit is our best dessert, and individual portioned packaged food has long ago left our house. We freeze our own leftovers in small mason jars for a quick lunch on the go.

Less Food Waste Although we haven’t perfected it yet, we are working towards never wasting food. We freeze leftovers. I try to plan meals with what we already have. This includes simple meals that have ingredients and spices that are commonly in our kitchen cupboard. We make an effort to keep track of what is in our refrigerator and use it up before it spoils. I am working on cooking just enough for one meal but it goes against my Italian heritage so patiently wait for an update on that and rest assured that I do make frozen meals out of leftovers.

It’s not as hard as I expected.  I thought it would be an uphill climb to move towards Zero Waste. Actually, it’s been much easier than I thought and I enjoy the challenge at the grocery store along with the satisfaction I get from composting for the upcoming garden and teaching my child to be more mindful of what he buys and consumes. It’s an ongoing lesson for all of us but the changes have been very satisfying. I don’t know that we will ever actually get to zero waste but I do believe that truly any effort is a step in the right direction for our world.

If you are interested and need help getting started you may email me: Compassionchanges@gmail.com

Think of these things before you shop:

Refuse: Refuse to buy plastic packaging, processed foods, and unnecessary items such as individual packaging and excessive wrappings.

Reduce: Reduce the quantity of things that you consume. Do with less if possible. Be mindful of a product’s impact on the environment.

Recycle: Recycle containers and products that you can’t avoid buying as you are able. Consciously rinse and clean containers before putting them in the recycle bin and make the effort to use this as a last resort. Even though it’s great to recycle, it still costs money and energy to do so.

Reuse:  Reuse or re-purpose containers and items that you are unable to avoid or recycle. These things often turn into children’s educational toys, dog toys, art projects, and storage containers. Just be sure that you are using it in a safe manner. Giving a child something that they could choke on or a dog something that could be toxic could end in heartbreak.

Rot: Those vegetable scraps that can’t be used for making vegetable stock or the fruit scraps that can’t be used for making vinegar should be put into a compost bin and used in your garden or potted plants for enriching the soil. I even put my coffee grounds and sweetener packets in there. Be careful not to put any cooked, processed, or syrups in the compost. They attract all sorts of critters that you won’t want in your garden. If you don’t have a place to store compost you can check with your city site. They may take in compost.

We never dreamed that we like transitioning to Zero Waste in our home so much. We just thought it was the right thing to do and we would deal with it. Now we like the challenge and the conversations it starts at the grocery store. We still have a long way to go but we are determined to keep at it. If you have any great ideas or things that you do please comment below.