Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Greening of the Kitchen

I'm on a quest to green my house, to use less or no plastic and produce little or no waste that isn't compostable or recyclable. You can read here how I did this with my bathroom. Todays post is about the kitchen. Although I was feeling proud that we were recycling and composting a lot of what came through our kitchen , there was still a ton of garbage going out, mostly in packaging, so I decided it was time to start shopping differently.

First up was our meat consumption. I used to shop regular grocery stores and they don't do their own butchering anymore so all meat comes in  Saran-wrapped Styrofoam , the source of most of our smelly garbage. I have since purchased some awesome stainless covered containers and sourced out a few local butchers that can serve my meat straight into my containers. The bonus part is they also carry free range, grass fed organic meat and have some fresh partly prepared dishes such as stuffed potatoes and stuffed mushrooms, cordon bleu of various flavors, and shish kabobs etc. which help to vary our menu and keep the work load down.

Next I sourced some local fruit and veggie stands and sewed myself a bunch of mesh bags to carry my purchases home. No more veggies in a can (except for stewed tomatoes, when I get to it, I will can those myself in reusable glass jars)

For just about everything else in the dry goods categories: pasta, rice, flour, spices, even chocolate, I can get those at the bulk food section of my local Safeway using bags I made myself from recycled pillowcases.  I got a wonderful glass door cabinet for free on Craigslist and used it to house a bunch of glass jars where I keep all my bulk food purchases.

 I  bought some reusable glass bottles for oil, vinegar etc. and get them refilled at the Soap Dispensary along with my favorite dish soap. I also carry one with me in the car and have one at work to refill as water bottles.

I buy the fresh bread in a paper bag. I still have butter wrappers to contend with but I am thinking of trying this guys method for making your own butter.                                           

I use natural soap for dishwashing,and orange peel infused vinegar and baking soda for cleaning around the kitchen.

I switched out paper towel and paper napkins for small cloth towels and cloth napkins all found at thrift stores. I bought some muslin cloth and embedded it with beeswax to make a superior product to saran wrap. Here is a tutorial on how to make your own.

We still get some products in glass jars and boxes but at least they are recyclable or reusable in the case of the jars. We are about to embark on our first try at winemaking and will be able to reuse our bottles and equipment again and again.

We are eating healthier, fresher products, cooking from scratch and shopping locally for our food. Within the next year or two, I will be starting to garden as much of our own food as we can. My goal is to not ever have to take the garbage out, cause there isn't any!

I am also trying to rid myself of plastic products. I won't lie, it's hard, everything these days, is made of plastic or packaged in plastic. I have found a metal dish drainer, a metal bucket for mopping the floor, wooden dish scrubbers, stainless popsicle molds, stainless ice cube trays, metal and wood cooking utensils, glass and metal containers for leftovers, stainless straws to name a few things. Really, most of the plastic in our kitchen now is the garbage can and  recycling bins which hopefully one day soon I won't even need and can reclaim some of my kitchen floor back!

And of course as with the rest of the house, most of the kitchen was built for free from Craigslist, the cupboards, sink, bench, leaded glass doors, all free, the rest, second hand for a fair price and thrift store finds for d├ęcor and dishes, napkins, small kitchen appliances etc.

Buying things at the thrift store means a whole lot less packaging in most cases and it's recycling something and keeping it from the landfill. I love all my "treasures" that I find!

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The Eclectic Ark