by Tammy Taylor~
I’ve been on a quest for many years to eliminate as much plastic from our home as I can. It’s almost impossible – plastic is EVERYWHERE! So I’ve decided if it’s coming into our home, I’ll USE it in its entirety instead of buying more plastic. But even then there are ways I’ve been able to significantly reduce the amount of plastic that I use in my kitchen.
Refuse To Buy Plastic
Of course the first and most important thing of course is refusing items that come in plastic whenever you can. When possible I go to the bulk fruit bins to buy my fruit instead of a bag of apples. And It goes without saying that plastic dishes and cutlery aren’t allowed in my kitchen. But there are many other ways to remove plastic from the kitchen.
I’ve written before about storing food in glass jars in the fridge. This eliminates the need for plastic food containers. Plus they make it easy to see the food they contain so leftovers are eaten promptly and not wasted. In many cases it makes it possible to store, heat & eat in the same container!
Say “NO” To Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags
I’ve refused paper AND plastic shopping bags from retail establishments for years. Well before it was the vogue environmentally-friendly thing to do I was saying “No thanks” to bringing home more plastic. It’s very easy for me to remember my fabric bags when I go to the store and they’re always in the trunk of my car. Plus they’re so much easier to carry since the straps are long enough to go over my shoulder.
And I recently acquired a handmade basket that replaces plastic shopping bags for those quick stops too. Plus the basket holds my soon-to-be-purchases for me while I’m shopping. I wrote about the Reaction To My Basket while shopping. Everyone I meet loves it and so do I!
If You’ve Got It – Use It
But still those plastic shopping bags make their way into our home through visitors bringing things and leaving them behind. Sometimes I use them in our tiny bathroom-waste-basket-sized kitchen wastebasket since that’s the only size we require. But I don’t want to accumulate them so oftentimes I’ll smooth those bags out and send them to our local food pantry, who can repurpose them for their clients.
Learn To Make It Yourself
I’ve written before how this plastic-free journey started for me with my morning yogurt. I’d been frustrated that I couldn’t even recycle those plastic tubs my yogurt was sold in because our city didn’t accept it. So I decided to learn to make my own homemade yogurt and found out it was deceptively easy. Since I make my yogurt in single-serve 1/2-pint canning jars there’s no plastic necessary! I’ve also made vinegar out of pineapple scraps (it’s delicious). Plus I strive to preserve much of our garden produce by canning or dehydrating. All that garden goodness is stored in glass jars.
Think Outside The Box For Trash Bag Needs
I haven’t bought trash bags in over a decade. Since our kitchen waste basket is so small there’s always something I can use for a liner. For instance, I may carefully open the family pack of toilet paper (which is shrink wrapped in a large piece of plastic) and use that in our trash bin. Or maybe I’ll shake out an empty family-sized cereal bag & use that.
Plastic Food Wrap
What about plastic wrap? I haven’t bought the cling-wrap stuff in years. As a new beekeeper I’m always looking for ways to use products of the hive. I’ve made beeswax wraps by melting beeswax from our hive onto a cute patterned lightweight cotton/polyester blend cloth.
NOTE: I often sell natural beeswax wraps on my Online Store Here, along with other handmade items. Feel free to check it out!
But plastic still occasionally finds its way into our home &I’m also able to put it to a second use as well. For instance, although I try to keep RancherMan supplied in the homemade bread he loves there are times when I’m not making bread. The heat of a Texas summer being one of those times! So when we have to purchase bread and the bag is emptied, I’ll shake out any crumbs and fold it neatly and tuck it into a box where I store them.
When I need a plastic food bag to separate serving-sizes after I’ve used the Cook-Once, Eat-Twice method of cooking, these bags help separate the servings. I then add a description on a piece of paper and slide it into a previously-used zippered freezer bag along with these separated servings and place the whole thing in the freezer. Food doesn’t stay in our freezer long so I’ve never had a problem with freezer burn.
Covering Food In The Refrigerator
But what about thawing food? I’ve found a way around plastic for that too. Well, when looking through the freezer recently I discovered a bag labeled “Grilled Pork Steaks” and I thought that would be delicious to enjoy for tomorrow’s supper. I pulled two serving sizes from the bag and placed the frozen steak portions on a plate.
I topped them with an inverted bowl, the way I’d seen my grandmother do a thousand times when I was a child. Into the fridge it goes to thaw overnight and throughout the day tomorrow. When It’s time to eat all that needs to be done is to heat the steaks, whip up a couple of veggie sides such as a steamed vegetable medley and dinner is served in a flash!
These are a few ways I’ve dodged adding plastic to my kitchen. I don’t know if I’ll ever be totally plastic free but at least when it does come into our home I’m able to use it fully before disposing of it.
But I’m still striving to become more & more plastic free. What are your favorite tips for going plastic-free in your kitchen?