January 26, 2023 4 min read
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
How does this work? The compost bin "hastens the decomposition of organic matter through proper aeration and moisture retention" to create nutrient-rich compost. As well as food, you can compost coffee grounds, houseplants, wood shavings and unwaxed brown paper products.
You should avoid adding animal and seafood byproducts, as well as dairy products and plants treated with pesticides.
Despite the fact that 34% of us do 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 cloths and tea towels instead 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 brushes to clean your dishes instead.
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.
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.
Want to know more? Read our full guide on beeswax wraps.
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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