A house full of waste: The Kitchen
It’s the week without waste or zero-waste week, an important week to reflect on our own consumption and waste. Why is it important to minimize waste and why should we thrive for a waste free kitchen? Did you know that the Netherlands is the country in third place in Europe on recycling? In the Netherlands approximately 50% of all plastics are being recycled, in the EU countries this is 30% and worldwide only 5%.
So while we’re doing better than the European and global average, there is still a lot of waste that can’t be recycled and some products that can be recycled aren’t actually being recycled. That still leaves a lot of waste, which is why it’s so important that we all contribute to minimizing our waste. The best way you can do this is by reducing the amount of single-use items you use.
Luckily, there are quite a lot of solutions for this! This article will be the first of a series in which I’ll discuss how you can reduce waste for every room in your house. Starting with this month’s focus, I’ll talk about the kitchen! This is arguably the most wasteful room. There are two main types of waste here: plastic packaging and food waste.
A lot of the waste in the kitchen is plastic waste, mostly coming from packaging. Approximately 20% of all our waste is packaging material. But how can you best reduce that plastic waste?
Selecting products with minimum packaging
Supermarkets aren’t making this easier by selling pre-packaged products, but you can try to only buy fruit or vegetables that aren’t pre-packaged. This can easily be done with, for example, apples. And if you really cannot avoid packaging, try to choose carton packaging over plastic as this can be composted.
Level up your zero-waste game by shopping for groceries at a local farmers market. You can simply bring your own bags, jars or picnic baskets and ask the vendors to fill those instead of the normal packaging. Want to get inspired on how you can shop packaging-free groceries? Check out this interview for inspiration on how to shop packaging-free.
Albert Heijn is also working on packaging-free grocery shopping. They now have three XL stores in which you can fill your own jars and bags with products like pasta, nuts, rice or tea. The concept is currently only in AH XLs in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Leidschedam. So if you’re close, check it out!
Bring your own shopping bag
You have probably already seen the images of plastic bags floating in the ocean with sea turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. You can prevent this by simply bringing your own bags to stores. And did you realize you can also bring your own bags to carry fruits and vegetables or bread? So next time when you go to the supermarkets for lunch, bring your own bags!
Did you know that the average Dutch person wastes about 33.4 kg of food every year? That’s approximately 74 meals, or 2.5 months of dinner, per person! This is mostly bread, fruits, vegetables, potatoes and dairy products. In 2022, we also wasted approximately 64.6 liters of drinks, mostly consisting of coffee and tea. And of the total food waste of the country, household waste on 24 to 38% of the entire chain. So, it’s time to change this, right? Here are some useful tips to decrease your own food waste.
Prepare before you go grocery shopping
Plan your meals before you go grocery shopping. If you can, try to find meals that need some ingredients of other meals. That way you can reuse the ingredients, because you’re probably going to have too many ingredients otherwise. And while you’re at it, make a list of what groceries you plan on buying. This helps to prevent buying stuff you’re not going to use and thus throw away. The final step is to check which groceries you already have in the house. This way you won’t buy extra groceries that are just too much to actually use up.
Many vegetables are actually regrowable. That means you don’t have to throw them away! Examples of those vegetables are spring onions, leek, carrots, potatoes and many more! To do it, you cut approximately three centimeters above the base of the vegetable and just stick that three centimeters in a glass of water. This will help it to start growing roots and soon your vegetable will start growing from the base of where you cut it. The rest of the vegetable can be used in your cooking. However, some vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, will not immediately give you new veggies, but instead they may produce flowers or long vines. These flowers then make seeds which you can plant in your garden.
Cooking with leftovers
Unfortunately, you cannot regrow everything. Some leftovers are just that: leftovers. But sometimes you can cook with them! Check for example this article for a recipe using old bread. One thing you could try is pick out one day of the week and on this day you make something new out of your leftover vegetables, like soup or a pasta sauce.
Have an eat-first box
Sometimes it’s really hard to remember what you actually have in your fridge. Every now and then this leads to forgotten fruits and vegetables that slowly go bad. You can prevent this by having an eat-first box in your fridge. In this box you can place things that you expect will go bad soon or things you need to remember to eat. This way you prevent things going bad in the first place!
Know what you should store where
Did you know that there are products that you should keep in the fridge and ones that you should keep out of it? Often you should store fruits and vegetables the same way they are stored in supermarkets, but there are some exceptions. Most fruits and vegetables should be kept in the fridge and favorably in the designed fruits and vegetables drawers because this part of the fridge is less cold and damp than the rest. However, some fruits like bananas, mango and pineapple should be kept outside of the fridge.
Eggs should be kept inside the fridge even though they are outside of the fridge in the supermarket. If eggs were kept in the fridge in supermarkets and you would take them home, condense would form on them. This makes them more vulnerable to harmful bacteria. This does not happen if eggs are already at room temperature when you take them home.
I hope these tips helped you or at least inspired you to minimize your own kitchen waste, or maybe even someone else’s. Let us know what your go-to waste free kitchen tips are on this page or our socials!