In news from the semi-waste free kitchen front, I thought I’d share what we’ve been using instead of disposables. We haven’t developed the perfect set up yet, let me just warn you. But we’re heading in the right direction.
Napkins – stupidly obvious – you just use cloth napkins. This is soooooo easy, I can’t believe I didn’t make the change earlier. We’ve been using them for the most part for a few months, but cutting out the paper altogether is a breeze. I’ve been making my own, because they are just rectangular pieces of fabric and I can sew things like that, and it’s been pretty fun. Though kind of a lot of work, I’m not going to lie. Not the sewing per se, the ironing and pinning and pressing takes up all the time.
Paper towels – also incredibly easy once you make the commitment. I’ve had 3 dozen Unpaper Towels that I bought on etsy a year ago (when Joslyn posted about them) and now we’re actually using them with gusto. I just keep them stacked up on the counter where the paper towels used to be and toss them into the laundry when they’ve been used. A better system would be to have little “clean” and “dirty” baskets somewhere in the kitchen, but I haven’t gotten that far. I don’t think we’ll be going back to paper when the experiment is over.
Plastic baggies – They are incredibly convenient, but I’m telling you, you can live without them. We’ve been using a bunch of different things but I do love our glass storage containers from Crate & Barrel. We have two sets and use them constantly. Plus I love the french terrine jars from the Container Store (my faves are not online, sadly) for things like baby food and cooked beans and the like. Obviously any glass jars will work, but I like to try to stick with those that are all glass and use a rubber gasket. It turns out the other kind (with the ring and lid) actually have BPA in the liner. Isn’t that shocking??? That’s another post altogether.
Freezer storage – This one is a little trickier. But for the most part, I use the same glass jars. You can actually freeze things in glass, with a lid that seals, as long as you leave enough room to accommodate for expansion. As in, if you freeze stock in a glass jar it will expand and break said jar if there’s not enough air space to start. Learned that one the hard way!
I freeze baby food in little jars, stock in big jars, and actually keep all of my grains, beans, and nuts in the freezer as well. I buy that stuff in bulk and because I’m paranoid about moths, just dump it into large glass canisters and store everything in the freezer.
And, for your waste-free-ish kitchen, I cannot stress how great it is to have LOTS of tea towels at your disposal. I’m partial to pretty ones of course, but the workhouse of tea towels is still the simple white and red one from IKEA. They’re $0.49 each. I probably have at least 30.
Now, the problem areas.
Foil. Haven’t found a solution. But you can buy recycled foil at the grocery store and then recycle it again after you use it.
Saran wrap. Sometimes this is kind of useful. Not sure if there’s a good alternative.
Freezer bags. In some cases nothing else will do.
And finally produce bags. Rachel uses muslin bags, but I’ve never felt like cloth produce bags actually keep things nice and crisp.
If someone has a good recommendation for any of these things, please share!