An Almost Zero-Waste Kitchen
by Benoît Bleau, translated by Catherine Stratford (October 2019)
Your kitchen probably generates more waste material than any other room in the house. Whether it is often over-wrapped foods, cleaning products, food scraps, paper towels, individual packaging for items in lunch boxes, single-use containers or disposable cleaning accessories of all kinds. We can make choices that can have a huge impact on the reduction of waste material put out at the curb every week. Just think of it, how did your parents or grandparents manage before the invention of plastic? Here are some simple tricks to reduce the quantity of waste coming from your kitchen, helping you get closer to a Zero-Waste Goal.
Purchasing choices : It is getting more and more popular to use re-usable bags. Once in the grocery store, there are many other actions we can take. First of all, choose foods that are sold in bulk. This involves bringing along various reusable bags or containers to store the foods/products. Look for grocery stores that sell in bulk and encourage your own grocery store to offer more packaging-free produce/or products. It is not always possible, but sometimes it just takes a bit of good will. The more customers request change, the more likely it will come about. You can also choose to purchase products in consigned containers. Consignment is the best way to promote re-use and efficient recycling.
Storage : Use re-usable containers, preferably those made of glass. Glass is very clean and durable and when it breaks, it can be recycled into new glass. Do you know what actually happens to the glass you carefully put in your recycling bin? They say that it is “valued” but in point of fact, a good lot of the glass in our recycling bin ends up being used as filler for the landfill site or used to make cement because it is too “contaminated” with other recyclables to be recycled properly. It is an terrible to think that Owen-Illinois one of Montreal’s largest glass recycling factories, has to import glass because of the poor quality of Quebec’s recycled glass. Separating glass from the rest of recyclables would also improve on the quality of the rest of the recyclable materials. The good news is that several municipalities in Quebec have taken the initiative to separate glass from their other recyclable material, by storing it in special bins, in order to allow the recuperated glass to be properly recycled and made into new glass.
Let’s ask our municipalities to be proactive in this matter, by installing special bins for all recyclable glass. After all, more than 25 years ago, Hemmingford stood out when the Environment Committee won the special Pheonix Award for the Environment (Prix Phénix pour la collecte selective), for its initiative in starting a recycling program well before door-to-door recycling took place.
Instead of using saran wrap, use aluminum foil, which is 100% recyclable. There are also food-grade re-usable wraps made using bees’ wax. You can even make your own : https://lestrappeus. es/pellicule-alimentaire-cire-abeille/ Or you can purchase reusable beeswax foodwrap at Canada.abeego.com.
Snacks and Lunches : The Agri-Food Business quickly caught on that to appeal to consumers, it had to make life easier for them. This resulted in the marketing of individually wrapped food portions and drinks: individual juice boxes, and packets of cookies, crackers, apple sauce, yogurt etc. These generate a huge amount of unnecessary waste. These wrappings and oneuse containers are often not even recyclable. All of these foods and drinks can be bought in larger quantities and subdivided into re-usable containers. It takes a little more effort, but it also provides an example to our children, who ask us to take action to protect the planet.
For fruit, vegetables and other fresh foods: buy them as you need them, to avoid waste. Avoid prepared foods which are usually over-packaged, and cook your own. Keep vegetable peelings in a container in the fridge and make delicious broth from them. Compost the vegetable scraps you are not using for this purpose.
Ah, Compost! What better way to give a second life to kitchen waste! You can throw into the compost, all organic scraps, paper towels, Kleenex, brown cardboard, etc. Further information about composting will be provided in a future article, but in the meantime, you can visit our website: infohemmingford.org and enter Compost in the Search box. Several articles have been written on this topic in the last 10 years.
There are many other suggestions to be made on the subject of reducing kitchen wastes, this list is far from complete. Please share with us your own ideas on the matter, by contacting us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. It is collectively that such actions can have an impact.