Low Waste Kitchen & Food Tips
Targeting your Kitchen and Food can create A LOT of impact when it comes to Low Waste Living - so much single use plastic revolves around what we eat!
How To Use This Guide:
1. Expand The Sections:
We created these guides so they are easy to use and you don't need to scroll through heaps of information. Simple click the + sign and you will see all the plastic-free info relevant to that topic and links to New Zealand stores.
2. Check Out The Other Topics:
This is Guide 2 of 3 for the Plastic Free Living Guides - we are talking about everything KITCHEN AND FOOD!
3. ** Means Discount For You With Code 'CALIWOODS':
See two asterisks (like this**) next to a brand link? This means there will be a discount for you if you follow and buy from the link and enter the code at Checkout. Some of our friends give us a percentage of the sale as well - since we are a Social Enterprise, this money goes back into reaching more people with this and other Sustainability info. Win for you, Win for us, Win for our friends, Win for the Planet!
Let’s see how we can easily make some food choices with no/little plastic and waste. These alternatives are often better for your health too!
🚫Unnecessary plastic and waste because you don't have the right tools. Invest in the right shopping tools so that all your shops can be low waste!
✔Big Bags: Always keep your Reusable Tote Bags by the front door once you have unloaded your groceries. That way they go with you on the next trip!
✔Little Bags: Reusable Produce Bags are an essential to make sure you get fresh fruit and veg loose rather than pre-packaged. Have a look at these Bulk Bin Bags which are great for dry bulk bin shopping.
✔Containers: An assortment of sizes of containers for all needs. Reusing jars works well too - wide mouth is best for refilling!
✔In Desperation...Use the paper mushroom bags when you’re desperate for produce, just keep in mind that paper has to come from somewhere and reusing is much better.
✔In Desperation...use the compostable versions that some supermarkets are rolling out. Make sure these are HOME compostable not COMMERCIALLY compostable and only use when you really really need it. Again, reuse is tops!
🚫To shopping trolleys full of plastic wrapped food!
✔Stick to the Outside Isles: A good rule of thumb for shopping low waste (and healthy!) is to stick to the outside isles.
✔BYOC: Some supermarkets will accept BYO Container for Bakery, Deli and Butchery Departments now – bring your clean containers that seal, the supermarket will tare the weight so you only pay for what you buy.
✔Make the Better Choice: Opt for packaged food that is in cardboard and glass rather than plastic. These materials are more recyclable and you can keep the jars for your bulk shopping efforts (see more about this below)
✔Look For Better Packaging: Bread from the bakery in a paper bag instead of plastic? Yoghurt in a glass jar instead of plastic tub? Find plastic-free alternatives and swap one item out each week!
🚫To only supporting big brands
✔Here's WHY: Hop on down to your local market! Support your local growers AND get fresh produce that is usually cheaper and delicious. There's usually a lot of selection and you have the added bonus of knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown/farmed.
✔Here's another WHY:The distance the food has travelled is usually a lot lower. Ask the vendor where the food is grown or made. These are called 'Food Miles' and by supporting the local economy you are cutting carbon emissions. Win!
✔Find One Near You! Check out The Rubbish Trip which is an extensive resource for each community in NZ. They list very specific information from each location.
🚫To the food boxes which come with tiny sachets of ingredients – such avoidable plastic waste!
✔Get a low-waste Produce Box: The best one is Ooooby if you are in Auckland, Christchurch or the Waikato (organic and conventional fruit and veg options). They have an incredible philosophy. The fresh produce comes without packaging and you leave out the box each week to be collected and reused.
✔Tech: Use technology to reduce food waste as well as plastic! FoodPrint has just launched in Auckland and you can get discounted food through the App.
This hasn't been tried and tested with each Store to be a waste-free option in terms of packaging - you will need to ask about their takeaways and request to bring in your own at pick up. This will get easier as you get to know what each store uses for packaging and don't be shy to give them feedback! Read more about Compostable Packaging in our blog HERE to understand the impact and differences between bio-plastics.
🚫 To those pesky plastic bread bags with tags
✔Local Bakeries: Get your delish baked goodies and sweet treats straight from the Bakers! Get yourself a Reusable Bread Bag and then your packaging will be completely waste-free!
✔Buy on special: Help your wallet and save bread from going in the bin by buying at the end of the day! Best way to go here is to freeze these loaves when you get home or the day after, unless you go through Bread quickly.
🚫 To daily plastic items that hold your food once
🚫 Packaging that isn’t truly recyclable – plastic containers are a major culprit and only 12% of all plastic ever made has been recycled. It’s now likely that the items going into your recycling bin every week aren’t actually being recycled.
✔Butter: find this at your local supermarket in a paper or foil wrapped bar. The lining can sometimes be plastic based but it is less to dispose of than a hard plastic container. Keep butter in the fridge, or store in a butter dish outside your fridge so it spreads easily.
✔Plant Based Butter: Coconut Oil is a great plant-based alternative, can be used for high heat cooking and is packaged in glass. We use it on toast all the time!
✔Yoghurt: Buy dairy or coconut yoghurt in a glass jar – we love Raglan Coconut Yoghurt. You can also make your own (there’s many recipes, but HERE'S a goodie). You can reuse the jar afterwards as well!
✔Milk: Buy in a glass bottle, here’s a NZ company Aunt Jeans selling in glass. Ask around your local community if there is a local farmer who has a refill station. Powdered milk can also be found at most bulk food stores.
✔Plant Based Milk: These amazing nut milk concentrates from our pals at Vigour Vitality are absolutely unreal and zero waste if you reuse the glass bottle. Nut milks are also really easy to do yourself. We find Coconut the best as there’s no nut soaking required! Here’s a recipe for DIY nut milk.
✔Milk Powders: Alongside regular milk powder that you can find in Bulk, there's also plant-based milk powders from Stir. They use some foil packaging but it amounts to less than plastic bottles/tetrapaks and are available in supermarkets around NZ. You can also get their powders at selected Bulk Food Stores so have a check. Here's our step-by-step guide on How To Bulk Food Shop.
✔Cheese: Wrapper-free cheese at your supermarket deli – try to BYO container or you can request paper wrapping. Farmer’s markets are also your go-to. The stall holders are usually more than happy to put cheese in your own container.
✔Plant-based cheese is just emerging into the kiwi market and we are stoked about it! Savour has incredible plant-based cheese and packages in a glass jar soaked in Olive Oil that you can reuse.
🚫To the pre-packaged bags of apples and oranges
🚫To the half cut watermelons and pumpkins covered in cling wrap. Fruit and vegetables are common foods to find without plastic. Bonus that they’re healthy as well!
✔Remember: Keep to keep some of these awesome Reusable Produce Bags inside your bigger bags for each shop. This will avoid the awkward balancing act of apples scattering everywhere when you are at the checkout!
✔Store Left Overs Without Plastic Wrap: If you cut your vegetables for a meal, and have excess left over, wrap everything up in a Beeswax Food Wrap or store them in an airtight glass jar. Do this especially if you know you won’t use them for a few more days.
✔Greens: Keep your lettuce and other leafy greens wrapped in a damp tea towel for longevity. These Eco Saint Vege Bags keep them crisp and fresh for longer as well and are made especially for this purpose!
✔Greens and Herbs: Store your herbs and leafy greens upright in a glass jar with a small amount of water in the bottom. Herbs, like parsley, can keep for several weeks in a glass jar on the counter top.
🚫To wrapped meat and meat trays
It’s getting easier and easier to buy meat plastic free. The plastic free movement is spreading!
✔BYOC: Butchers and even supermarkets are now willing to place meat cuts into your own containers. All you need to do is keep containers in your car.
✔Use Glass: We have a recommendation from a Butcher that glass is better than plastic containers for your fresh cuts. It cools faster which means better food safety.
🚫To packaging dry goods in plastic
🚫8 brazil nuts in a pouch and little to-go lunch packs of dried fruit and nuts
✔This is an Easy Swap: Everything ‘Dry’ is really easy to get plastic-free with a little bit of know-how! You’ll find a huge range of nuts, flours, seeds and dry staples at your local bulk bin store. Here the bigger stores: Bin Inn, Commonsense, GoodFor, Huckleberry.
✔How To Go Bulk Food Shopping: Here's the super useful Bulk Food Shopping Guide. We have clearly outlined the details on how to successfully Shop without the packaging.
✔Find The Stores Near You: Bulk shopping spots will be community-specific. Find a comprehensive list for your area on The Rubbish Trip website.
✔Top Tip 1: Making a Shopping List has never been so essential – trust us on this one. There are a lot of items in the Bulk Store so head on in with a clear idea of what you need to re-stock.
✔Top Tip 2: Save a bunch of jars that are different sizes and use the plastic containers that you already have for food storage. Bring these along on your Bulk Shopping Trips along with these super handy Bulk Bin Bags. Keeping these Fabric Bags in the car is great for quick top-up stops and they don't take up space or bump around.
🚫 Throwing awesome, nutrient-rich organic matter to the landfill
🚫 Stinky Bins!
✔Get Into Easy Home Composting: It is a way of recycling our waste through the breaking down of substances by soil micro-organisms. These micro-organisms turn our waste into a rich, fertile soil; ideal for growing healthy plants. When a compost bin is given the right levels of water, air, nitrogen (green matter) and carbon (brown matter), it will break our waste down quickly, easily, and require low maintenance.
A home compost can break down the following:
Fruit (only low levels of citrus if you have worms)
Pick one of the following composting methods to suit your lifestyle and living space...
✔Rotating Compost Bin: Read the article HERE for how to make your own out of recycled materials
✔Worm Farm: We have found Hungry Bins to be the most effective. Turning food scraps into fertiliser! Fits easily in the backyard or on the corner of the deck.
✔Compost Collection is great if you do not have the time or space to compost:
- Wellington - Kai Cycle
- NZ Wide - The Compost Collective connects you to people in your community who have a compost, chickens or gardens that can use your waste! How cool!
✔ Bokashi System: For people living in small spaces. A Japanese technique that doesn't need oxygen, you can even put dairy and meat into these systems. It ferments your food, instead of allowing food to decay, meaning faster processing. A great system for avid gardeners!
🚫 Single-Use Plastic Cling wrap
🚫 Letting food go to waste
✔Beeswax wraps – perfect for half-cuts of fruit and vegetables as well as sandwiches and covering bowls. They look delightful and smell delicious! Lasting up to 1 year, these wraps are compostable after use.
✔Jars – we love widemouth jars and keep these specifically for storing food. They are also great for taking food to work – think your left over dinner stored in a jar and then taken to work the next day.
✔Pegs – are awesome if you have a packet you need to seal, hopefully it’s a reused packet or paper ;)
🚫 Chemical Cleaning Products - These enter our waterways and pollute our oceans.
🚫 A plastic bottle graveyard under your sink
🚫Plastic bristle brushes
✔ Glass Packaging: Find cleaning products in glass. Figgy and Co sell products in glass bottles made from natural ingredients - win win!
✔Refill: Head to your local Refillery and take your old cleaning product containers or jars that you have. To name a few - Commonsense, Bin Inn, GoodFor, WOK, Huckleberry. They tare your container, so you only pay for the product!
✔Put your DIY blends in up-cycled glass jars, or get a glass spray bottle!
✔Soaps that are more waterway friendly, Refill liquids at your local bulk store. See our guide for how to HERE.
KITCHEN SINK DISHES
✔ We are working on a cool NZ made alternative - soap shaker and block soap. Contact us HERE register your email and be the first to get one.
✔ Even though paper composes, it is still single use. Using clean rags is perfect, or see tips for a DIY version HERE.
Avoid buying a plastic bottle of powder every month Tabs that have the water soluble packaging around them. The EcoStore tabs come in a cardboard box and have been great.
1. Kettle - Only boil the water you’re using
2. Washing - Avoid washing dishes under running water, make one sink instead
3. Cooking - Cook vege's in a pot and save the water for your garden as is an awesome little nutrient top up!
4. Storing - Use jars and beeswax wraps for storing left overs in fridge
5. Re-Use - Save vege peels and cut off ends for a vege stock
6. Leftovers - Cook more than you need and freeze - save on power, dishes and time!
7. Power - Turn off appliances at the wall when your not using and switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances when you need to replace them (e.g. fridge)
🚫 Plastic cellophane, sprayed flowers.
✔ Eco friendly, local flowers - Bloomsday is a project in finding delight in the smallest things and sharing that joy through flowers, all in a way that's healthy for the earth. We only use NZ grown and foraged flowers, whipped into rad bouquets and wrapped in biodegradable recycled paper and twine.
Additional Plastic-Free Living Guides:
- 3 Eco Hacks You Need To Read!
- Low Waste Beauty and Personal Care
- Low Waste Bathroom, Laundry and Pets
Here are links to our existing blogs which go into specifics and will be useful for developing your low waste kitchen: