Congratulations friends! You’ve made it to Baby Step #2 of my 30-Day Zero Waste Baby Steps Challenge. By this point, you should have a good handle on your household clutter. I hope you feel lighter!
Now it’s time to move onto the pantry.
I learned pretty early in my Zero Waste journey that the pantry can hold many terrors. When we started, I was absolutely overwhelmed looking at the stockpile I had collected over the years…cans upon cans, half-eaten bags of chips and who-knows-what, all wrapped in food packaging.
Today, we are still slowly eating down the packaged goods from our former life. I’m hoping this Baby Step will give you a head start!
Baby Step #2: Eat Down the Pantry
Your homework for today is to eat down the pantry so you can start your Zero Waste grocery shopping with a clean slate. This process will help you make room for new bulk storage jars and keep your grocery shopping simple.
Let’s get started!
1) Take a food inventory.
Make a list of everything you have in the pantry, the freezer, and the fridge so you know what you’re working with. If you have duplicate items, keep track of the amounts.
2) Set aside useful stock items for emergencies.
If you have multiple cans of black beans coming out your ears, save a few for an emergency kit then eat the rest as soon as possible. This is a great way to make use of food purchases you’ve already made without taking up space in your kitchen.
Once you have your emergency kit boxed and ready to go store it outside your kitchen – say, in the basement or a storage closet.
3) Get creative with the food items you already have.
Pantry challenges are a wonderful way to force the habit of “making do.” Allow this experience to encourage menu creativity and see what you can do with the things you’ve got!
4) Don’t replace the packaged items you just cleared away.
Soon you will be free of all the packaged groceries from your pre-Zero Waste life. In coming weeks, work hard to avoid food packaging and opt for more sustainable solutions like buying in bulk or shopping at farmers markets.
5) Make the shift toward local, in-season grocery shopping.
One of the best things you can do as a Zero Waster is to shop local for your groceries (and everything else). Local goods require less transportation, create jobs where you live, put your taxes to good use, and encourage local prosperity.
Eating what’s in season is also extremely beneficial. It’s easier on your wallet (again, transportation is a beast), it encourages variety in your diet, and it puts you in direct touch with the earth and its cycles. I think that’s so cool!
6) Still struggling? Donate anything you just can’t use.
Have some non-perishables left over? Donate to your local food bank or shelter. Here’s a nationwide database that will help you find locations in your area.
More Zero Waste Pantry Tips:
- Follow your meal plan religiously. Keep it simple and less food will go to waste!
- Do a mini pantry challenge mid-week. Eat leftovers before they go bad and clean up any leftover items you haven’t yet used.
- Look for an open shelving solution for pantry staples. This helps ensure nothing gets stuffed to the back of the cupboard or passed over. Here’s some inspiration!
- Shop for pantry essentials like flour and pasta just once a month. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many options.
- Store pantry essentials in glass containers. This ensures you know exactly what you have and how much is left.
Refining the way you buy and store food items is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for Zero Waste success. Take these tips and run with them!
See you tomorrow!
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