A central tenet of Judaism is the concept of “baal tashchit” (do not waste). One of the places in your home that often generates the most waste is the kitchen. Below are four simple ways you can work to minimize what you throw away as you cook, store and shop.
• Shop with packaging in mind: Prevent excessive waste from coming into your kitchen by being mindful about the amount of packaging in what you purchase. Ask for deli foods to be packaged in brown paper wrap rather than plastic (paper is more biodegradable than plastic). Where possible buy items packaged in glass containers that can be cleaned out and reused for food storage. Buy loose produce items rather than those pre-packaged, and carry them in reusable produce bags, such as organic mesh bags, which can be ordered through the Life Without Plastics website: http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/organic-cotton-mesh-produce-bag-large.html
• Buy groceries in bulk: For items you use often or that don’t spoil, buy in bulk to save on the packaging wasted on smaller quantity items. You also will save money as usually large size items are cheaper by the pound to purchase.
• Compost non-meat items: Many food items, such as egg shells and vegetable scraps, are easy to compost in a simple indoor bin or a larger bin in the backyard. You can find some basics on composting in an earlier Planet Jewish blog (Composting Made Easy, June 7, 2011), or go to http://foodiegardener.com/composting-basics-for-beginners/
• Reduce disposable containers in your kitchen: There are alternative ways to store fruits and vegetables in your kitchen without resorting to disposables. Go to http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/05/how-to-store-produce-without-plastic/ for examples of how you can go “plastics free” with produce. Using glass containers for storage is the better way to go from a health and environmental standpoint. Doing this can completely eliminate the need to buy plastic wrap, which typically goes into a landfill after one use.
This blog originally appeared on jewishinstlouis.org at http://jewishinstlouis.org/ways-reduce-waste-kitchen/