The Sustainable Pantry: Go Zero-Waste with your Dry Ingredients

So you want to make your pantry that bit more sustainable, but you have no idea where to start? I feel you on that one. A zero-waste lifestyle is one that is difficult and can be messy but also extremely rewarding. Timing, budgeting and patience are key to turning your pantry zero waste. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its own struggles. Here are a list of tips that will help you get started on becoming that bit more sustainable.

  1. Jars, Jars and I can’t stress this enough, jars

This one isn’t exactly necessary but will make your life one hundred percent easier. Save any jars you get, that can be from jam jars, spice jars, sauces, you name it, save it. Clean them using boiling water and soap until they no longer smell. The more jars you have to stock up on, the less Tupperware you have to take to use and the less annoying organising is.

 I recommend buying bigger jars from either charity shops or from your local saving store for bigger items like pasta and rice as you are more likely to run out of those if only using small jars.

  • Don’t be afraid to look

If it’s your first time, don’t be shy to scope out and see what your local zero waste shop has to offer. You can pick up things like pasta and rice, but you maybe shocked to find other things you weren’t expecting, such as milk and fresh produce.

You won’t expect a lot when you go in, but it can be overwhelming when you enter these small stores to purchase something. Personally I could spend hours noting down everything they have because you will be shocked at how much produce you can actually swap out from these stores. Like flour, sugar, nuts, you name most of your pantry items and you can find them in store. It’s worth taking a pen and paper, or using your camera to take shots so you can effectively make the most out of your trip to the store, as otherwise you will either forget, not realise they stock that, or you will simply end up purchasing a bunch of random items, none of which you actually need.

  • Take your time

You don’t have to fully make the transition into zero waste living immediately and all at once. Take your time and slowly start changing your pantry to accommodate for eco-friendly alternatives. I would say that changing your pasta, rice and flour are the easiest swaps, especially if you go there well equipped with your jars at the ready.

You can start then swapping out other goods, like oats, beans, chickpeas and other dried products. You’ll find it gets a lot easier when you start small and get used to purchasing certain products zero waste. You may find that some swaps simply just don’t work for you – I learned the hard way that some swaps simply take too much time to go fully zero waste – dried kidney beans were my kryptonite.

  • Keep a list

If you are anything like me and will forget everything, they came to the supermarket for but leave with produce you don’t actually need, this hack is for you. Even if you are just making a list of products available at your zero-waste store, but it makes shopping way easier when you are concise and know what you need. Whether it be so simple as a few larder ingredients that will suffice, write them down and you won’t be getting random ingredients that will hinder your budget.

Good luck in making the move, and don’t worry if either a zero-waste store is too far, during the process of the month, I’ll be delving into turning your home zero-waste in others ways than just pantry. So keep your eye out for nifty tips, tricks and methods on swapping out your everyday items for more eco-friendly alternatives.

Published by Heather Dalgleish

21-year-old journalism student. Author and illustrator for In Full Bloom Magazine

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