A pantry is a small room or large cupboard that can be used to store food, drinks, plates, bowls and other kitchen essentials. Building a zero-waste pantry and organising it well can help reduce the amount of waste that is generated in your household, reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money in the long-run.
Need help making your own? Here’s our top tips on how to build and organise a zero-waste pantry in your home.
First things first, you need to declutter your current space.
Remove and dispose of all expired food and drink, but wash out and keep the jars as they can be used later on.
Donate, sell, recycle or repurpose dishes and appliances that you no longer use.
Put items and perishables that you want to keep to the side.
This will make it easier to see what you have and what you need, as well as give you an idea of where you can reduce waste — e.g. what you can purchase in bulk, to reduce the amount of packaging waste.
By the end of this step, you should have a blank slate to work from.
2. Invest in Reusable Containers
Next, invest in some high-quality reusable containers where you can store bulk-brought or zero-waste perishables. You should also consider what containers you can use that you already own; air-tight glass jars and takeaway containers are great for long-term storage, and can be used over and over again.
Once you’ve got your hands on some reusable food storage, decant your perishables into clear (and labelled) containers. This might include,
Dry Goods: pasta, rice, oats, cereal, flour and sugar.
Legumes: lentils, chickpeas and beans.
Seeds & Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds.
Preserves: pickles, jams and jellies.
Herbs & Spices: basil, thyme, paprika, organa, rosemary and cumin.
To ensure your goods are as low waste as possible, you can take your containers to your local zero-waste store and fill them up in-person.
If you’re planning to further reduce waste with your diet, consider going vegetarian or vegan. A plant-based diet reduces your carbon footprint, and improves your health.
3. Group Similar Items
Once you have what you want to keep, take a moment to group and store similar items together. You can then add labels to your shelves so that you can find what you need fast, as well as maintain this order as everyone will know what belongs where.
A cupboard organiser — otherwise known as a lazy Susan — is a great way to store herbs, species and sauces that you need to access on a regular basis.
You can also add baskets or drawers for smaller items so that you can keep things organised, but still have a good rummage.
4. Prepare for Everyday Use
If you use salt and pepper with every meal, there’s no use storing it at the back of the highest shelf. Think about what food, drinks and appliances you use on a regular basis and keep them at eye level, with items you use less often higher up.
5. Add a Compost Bin
Composting is a great way to reduce food waste. Keep a compost bin in your pantry (or kitchen) and add food scraps to reduce waste, and create a rich soil for your garden.
You should avoid adding animal and seafood byproducts, as well as dairy products and plants treated with pesticides.
6. Swap Kitchen Roll for Cloth
Despite the fact that 34% of usdo it, dirty kitchen rolls can’t be recycled. These single-use rolls therefore often do more harm than good.
When stocking up your pantry with cleaning supplies then, invest in reusable clothsand tea towelsinstead of single-use rolls. These clean up spills as well as their counterparts, but can be reused over and over again — just chuck them in the washing machine between uses.
On the same note, stop buying single-use plastic brushes, and invest in reusable dish brushesto clean your dishes instead.
7. Use Cotton Produce Bags
If you plan to store fruit and vegetables in your pantry, invest in some cotton produce bags. These reusable alternatives to traditional fruit and veg bags are plastic-free and biodegradable, and will keep your produce fresher for longer. Take them with you on your next market or supermarket visit.
8. Store Leftovers in Beeswax Wraps
Cover food and leftovers, and keep jars fresher for longer, with beeswax wraps. These natural alternatives to cling-film will reduce your plastic waste, as well as better protect and preserve your food when it’s in your pantry storage.
And there you have it! Eight simple steps to help you build your perfect, zero-waste pantry. Got more tips? Share yours below.
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