A great checklist for going zero-waste in the kitchen via Pure Green Magazine

Going zero waste in the kitchen from Pure Green Magazine(1)

[photo credit: Lauren Kolyn + PGM; Sourced through Scoop.it from: feedproxy.google.com]

I’m not sure I paid that much attention to it. All the plastic, I mean. Specifically the plastic in my kitchen. But once I did…

…I saw it everywhere.

It was wrapped around my food, and spilling out of my pantry, and overflowing from the cabinet next to the fridge. My brushes were plastic. My utensils were plastic. My food storage was plastic.

This excess of plastic could have bothered me from an environmental standpoint. But to be honest, it was the attractiveness and natural beauty of the non-plastic alternatives that motivated me to start looking into ways to reduce and replace the plastic in my kitchen.

Since starting, I’ve learned from much experience that reducing plastic in the kitchen is easier said than done. Plastic is popular for a reason: it’s convenient, it’s practical, it’s effective at many, many things.

So when I read this article from Pure Green Magazine, I felt like it was an excellent roadmap for reducing plastic in the kitchen. Full of eight doable steps like getting rid of plastic wrap and parchment paper, the article also shares suggestions for replacements. And it says this:

“Swap one thing out at a time so that the process feels manageable and you aren’t trying to break many habits at one time—it increases the chances of lasting change and success.”

This little piece of advice, I think, is the key. Take it one step at a time. In spite of the gorgeous pictures of natural kitchens on Pinterest, getting there isn’t an overnight process. Replacing effective and convenient plastic items takes time, and sometimes a little adjustment.

So if you’re looking for a way to remove plastic from your kitchen, this list is a great place to start. Just don’t try to finish in one day.

P.S. This list has even more ideas for going zero waste at home. Some I’ve tried and some I haven’t. Maybe I’ll try putting together a little course based on these lists and put them into a calendar for you to download and try out ideas in baby steps. Would you be interested in something like that?

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A month of mini fresh starts

[NOTE: keep scrolling to see the full list of mini fresh start articles below]

I think it was the cadre of sketchy leftovers in my fridge, plus the sticky dark slurry pooling beneath the vegetable crisper, that officially triggered the “oh man, I’ve really got to get myself back together,” sentiments that I’m feeling today.

In other words, it’s time for a fresh start. Or, in my case, it’s time for a month of mini fresh starts. Here’s a list of 30 things I’d like to try in the next 30 days to give this upcoming new year a simple living, fresh-start feeling.

Join me! Follow along on Instagram as I share more details about these simple living fresh start ideas, plus share your own experiences with January, dealing with long winter days, and how you’re keeping things simple as you start off a new year.

a month of mini fresh starts

1. Clean the fridge
2. Give your skin a break and go bare-faced
3. Try hot salad
4. Find a south-facing window and soak up the sunshine
5. Get outside
6. Take a 60-second clutter-busting pass through the room
7. Try a convertible garment
8. Update a corner in your home
9. Replace a disposable with something reuseable
10. Clean an overlooked space
11. Light a candle
12. Eat a fancy dinner at home
13. Get a plant
14. Drink a new hot drink
15. Bake a cake
16. Try/learn something new
17. Unsweeten something you normally sweeten
18. Remove a chemical from your beauty or cleaning routine
19. Replace a synthetic with something natural
20. Play a game
21. Give a gift for no reason
22. Write a note to someone
23. Power down your screens
24. Take a spending break
25. Go to bed early
26. Make bedtime luxurious
27. Leave something undone
28. Leave something empty
29. Have a “nowhere to go” day
30. Make something smell good

Read more mini fresh start articles:

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Dude-approved minimalist hot lunch formula

minimalist hot lunch formula

minimalist hot lunch formula

Attention dudes of the world: here’s a simple minimalist hot lunch formula for eating hearty man food that also happens to be healthy. Women, this formula works for you, too. I’ve been using it to build my lunches for two years and get a ton of jealous stares and comments from envious coworkers. These meals will fill you up, keep you from carb crashes, and help you avoid 3PM vending machine snack binges. They’re also easy to make carb-free/Paleo if you’re into that kind of thing. Here’s what you do:

A minimalist hot lunch formula that passes the dude litmus test

Supplies: get 1 or 2 microwaveable containers, preferably with a lid if you’re taking it to work

Step 1: add a base of green. Choose the one you like best. If romaine or iceberg lettuce is your pick, you’re going to need your second container for everything else. If you like kale, spinach, or other greens that can stand up to a little heat, one container for everything is fine.

Step 2: add a layer of veggies (or start a new container with the veggies). Again, choose your favorites (or, if you’re not a veggie fan, choose the ones you don’t hate). My time-saving hack is to make a big batch of chopped veggie slaw, a pan of roasted veggies, or a stir-fry and then store it in the fridge for the week.

Step 3: add a layer of meat or leftovers. This is always repurposed from dinner, like quiche, casserole, stew, brats, grilled meat, baked potato. Meatloaf is killer. Pizza works, too. Basically whatever you have, just dump it on top. Tips: if you eat out for dinner a lot, order extra to bring home.

Optional Step 4: add a dressing/condiment. Mustard, soy sauce, vinegar/oil, pesto, hot wing sauce (my personal favorite), or whatever you like. Keep in mind that some condiments (ex. anything mayo-based) will need refrigeration if it’s at room temperature too long. Don’t poison yourself.

Optional Step 5: finally, for flavor or crunch, you could add some cheese or nuts. Totally up to you.

Then when lunch rolls around, heat your veggies and leftovers (and greens if they’re sturdy—refer to #1) and eat. Minimalist. Easy. Quick. Healthy. Done.

Related: Minimalist cooking as demonstrated by dudes

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Sniff sniff. I’m saying goodbye to premade salads. Here’s why–

premade-salad-mixes1

It was a final goodbye. As I stared down, I thought, “This is it. The last time. There won’t be any more–maybe not ever again.”

And with that, I recently bade farewell to something that’s been a comfort to me for the past year: Premade salads.

(* Insert pause for tears.)

(** Just kidding. I don’t cry over salad. Spilled milk, maybe, but not salad.)

(*** Seriously—kidding about the milk, too.)

Premade salads are among my favorite go-to solutions for healthy eating. Trader Joe’s, Dole prepacked mixes–I can’t tell you how many weeks I’ve taken relief in the convenience of being able to throw together wholesome lunches and dinners with these handy mixes.

If you work full-time, perhaps you know the weight of the dreaded, “What’s for dinner?” question. Or you’ve stood at your refrigerator door like me, already running late for work, wondering how you’re going to throw together a meal from the bare contents on the shelves in front of you. “Maybe I’ll just run to Chipotle,” I think. “Or I’ll impulsively graze the vending machine when my blood sugar is crashing at 11AM.”

Yes–because that’s a good plan.

Premade salad mixes have kept me out of Chipoltle (and other similar fast but expensive ways to conjure up lunch and dinner). They’ve kept me from grazing the vending machine and calling it “lunch.” They’ve rounded out a nice rotisserie chicken, instantly becoming dinner. They make healthy eating easy for busy people.

Premade salads are awesome…except for this one pesky thing

But there’s one unmistakable problem with them: The trash. Plastic bags. Cellophane bags inside the plastic bags. Salad dressing packets. Plastic containers.

There’s a cost to my convenience, and its wages are waste.

Perhaps you think the trade-off of eating healthy is worth a little trash. You won’t find me judging you. I’ve made this trade-off lots of times, and experienced the value of eating healthy. That said, I’ve decided that I don’t want to ignore the waste anymore. Here’s why:

As convenient as they are, here’s why I’m not ignoring the waste from premade salads anymore

First, packaging from food is the largest contributor to household waste. Of the 1.4 billion pounds of trash Americans accumulate per day in landfills, 40% of it’s from packaging. And most of that comes from one-time-use packages from—you guessed it—food. (Read where I got these facts, plus a great list of ideas to reduce trash, here.) When I learned this, I realized that reducing food packaging was the easiest way to significantly reduce the amount of trash I produce. So I’ve adopted it as a mission, and have been slowly saying goodbye to packaged food since.

Currently on my hitlist: The salads.

Second, I believe the trade-off of eating healthy vs. creating trash is a false one. I absolutely can still eat healthy. I just can’t do it conveniently. I fully confess that this is the hard part. I can make my own healthy salad mixes, but it takes discipline and time. And I’m already exerting discipline in so many other areas of my life that a part of me wonders, “Is this sacrifice really worth it? It seems so trivial and rigid. In light of everything else, does it really matter?”

Here’s my challenge to myself: To decide that Yes, it really matters. Small choices matter. They add up. In a culture that praises convenience and indulges wastefulness, going against the grain is hard. Especially when it includes tiny decisions about things like packaged salad mix. But trivial decisions aren’t trivial when they accumulate over days, weeks, and years (just ask a smoker with lung cancer).

But enough about that. Getting rid of premade salads is just one thing on my list of food-packaging to ditch. Curious to see the full list? It’s coming soon.

Also, the colorful coleslaw you see above is chopped red cabbage, radish and carrots. It took me fifteen minutes to make (it’d be much faster if I had a food processor’s help) and lasted for almost two weeks of lunches. Not bad, right?