“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry
I mentioned in this post a little while back that I was learning more about less waste practices this summer. More and more I feel as though there are so many simple ways we as a family can cut back on the waste we produce and send off to the landfill each year. Sure, we recycle. We also compost as much as possible. We’ve even gone as far as choosing sustainable materials for many household items, clothing, and toys, to scratch the surface. These worthwhile and green contributions aside, there is still so much more we can and want to do as a family to help protect this beautiful home of ours. I will be doing many more Zero Waste posts in the future, with hopes to learn and share and delve deeper into this thoughtful and important philosophy that encourages reducing, reducing, and recycling the things we consume on a daily basis as we create a more intentional way of living, not because of where it lies on the hierarchy of zero waste practices, but more so because of where I’ve naturally ventured as a homemaker. I am sharing how to preserve your food and leftovers, something we do nearly every day, without having to add more non-recyclable trash to your bin. Before I share some of the wonderful products we are now using in lieu of more wasteful ones, I want to say a few things that I’ve been thinking about prior to writing this post!
- I do not think you have to know everything about a subject to start a thoughtful conversation about a subject.
- We are not a 100% zero waste family, but that doesn’t discount our past, present, and future efforts in trying to do what we feel is right.
- I do not judge you if you do not feel the same as I on this subject, or any subject for that matter. This is an open place where I hope we can learn from one another while pursuing our truths, whatever they may be.
- I think there is a big difference between mindful consumption and unnecessary, or otherwise, unthoughtful consumption.
- In light of the above, grace. Because we all need and deserve a healthy dose of it, both you and I.
I think that about covers it. Now onto several ways we’ve switched out using plastic tupperware and non-recyclables such as plastic bags and plastic wrap to preserve our food at home. We haven’t switched everything over, but we are in the process which can take awhile. So far, I am really happy with how easy it has been to use these products, especially because I’ve been using plastic covers for everything for as long as I can remember! Here is a list of where to start if you are new to this game like me:
In: Cloth Bowl Covers | Out: Plastic Wrap – Instead of digging out that long box of rolled up plastic, consider these practical and beautiful cloth covers to use on your enamel or ceramic bowls when saving leftovers. They come in a variety of sizes and offer a simple solution for food preservation. To clean them, toss in the washing machine on cold and hang to dry. They should last you years and years. I use these covers for dishes that are either made ahead for supper, for take alongs, and for leftovers we want to keep in the fridge. I am going to find a pattern to make some for my larger, rectangular shaped baking dishes.
In: Beeswax Wraps | Out: Plastic Wrap – Again, instead of leaning on plastic wrap, tin foil, and other non-recyclables to save odd-shaped foods or cover sustainably made bowls or basins, use this eco-friendly option made from our friends, the bees! To clean these bee’s wraps, hand wash in cool water with dish soap and hang to dry. You can fold these up like I have done above. These, unlike the cloth bowl covers, are not recommended for meat and should be kept away from heat, because beeswax melts. I love these because you can cut them up and use for things like halves of onion or blocks of cheese. They mold onto pretty much everything, and work well if your container is an interesting shape.
In: Organic Muslin Bags | Out: Plastic Tupperware – Chances are if you’ve ordered sustainable goods from a thoughtful maker or seller, Lil Bellies comes to mind, you’ve received said goods in muslin bags. I save all of mine and use them for so many different things, food preservation included. Because of their sustainability and versatility, I’ve ordered several more and use them in to house numerous food items, whether in the kitchen or on the go. They tie up nicely and are great for dry good storage like pretzels, cheddar crackers, and granola bars. To wash, do the same as you would the cloth covers, making sure to hang dry.
There are several other zero waste practices we do around the house, but I will share those another time. For now, I’ll leave you with this and some food for thought! If you were to make a list of 10 ways you would reduce waste in your home, think simple here, what would they be? What items could you do without, or if need be replace with a more eco-friendly option, as to not contribute to the piles of trash that get dropped off at the landfill each day? Andrew and I each made a list and compared notes, and goodness were they ever different! Mine focused more on the kitchen, while his had to do with saving on electricity etc. From our list we’ve started down the path of making more intentional changes as a family to consider the things we bring into and use within our home. And lastly, if you dear one have some more resources, podcasts, documentaries, or other forms of knowledge to share on the subject, I am all ears!
Victoria - great post, as they all are………….been following your blog for over a year now and always look forward to reading it. thank you for all the inspiration and your example of grace!!
I will add that the muslin drawstring bags are great for bulk items when shopping at the store, and we also bring cotton mesh produce bags rather than using the plastic ones.
search: simple ecology reusable bags.
have a great day!
Victoria - me again, I do see now the link you shared for the produce bags, sorry I hadn’t clicked through them all before I commented……..perfectly illustrated there!
but also wanted to add that I’ve recently picked up natural wool felted dryer balls. so once I’ve gone through my box of dryer sheets, I’ll no longer have those to throw out. yay! 🙂
admin - Victoria, yay for wool dryer balls and large muslin and organic cotton grocery bags. Love it. I have a post in the works about sustainable grocery shopping and other ways to give more back to local community organizations coming up, and in that one I’ll share the bags I’ve been using for grocery shopping for three years now! I also love the French market bags for this too, they can hold an incredible amount of goods. Thanks for the input and further inspiration dearest! xx Amanda
michaela - Something that I have found works pretty well is just putting a plate on top of my bowls of leftovers in the fridge. Its not perfect but it gets the job done. Plus you can stack a few bowls on top of each other. Leftover tower for the win!
admin - Michaela, simple and practical, love it! x Amanda
Lee Leroux - I am so glad you posted this today , I made some cloth bowl covers with my sewing machine yesterday . I just started Composting , on week 2 now and its going great , I look forward to a post on composting ( if you were thinking of doing one 🙂 I recently watched” A plastic ocean ” its awful what ends up at sea and the harm plastic does to marine life . We say no to plastic straws when we eat out , I carry reusable ones in my bag as my kids like them. When I shop I try to choose cardboard containers for things like laundry detergent and eggs versus plastic ones. I love the french style glass yogurt containers as I reuse them for mousse au chocolat etc I live in Austin and I have downsized to the smallest thrash can and have 2 large blue ones for recyclables . Its amazing how much thrash a family can accumulate . Wooden toothbrushes , Like you, we are not 100% zero waste but every little bit helps . Thank you Amanda , love this post
admin - Lee, look at you! If you happen to have a pattern to toss my way, I’d be so tickled. I have a post nearly done about our composting process and what that looks like, so hopefully to share in August. I really love all of these ideas you’ve shared. The straws, saving containers, wooden toothbrushes, yes yes yes. Thank you. x Amanda
Miranda - Please do a post on composting (and the other posts you have upcoming on sustainable living)! I would love to know your tips.
Taylor - Pretty flowers. Chamomile?
I’ve been reading Readingmytealeaves.com and Neverhomemaker.com for years and they both write lots about this! Check them out.
We do these things, too. I also love using cloth napkins and rags instead of paper. And I try to buy second-hand clothes for my daughter whenever possible. Craigslist and my neighborhood’s parent group on Facebook are great resources.
admin - Taylor, yes chamomile indeed! The sweetest little flowers. I have read Reading My Tea Leaves by Erin (it’s wonderful!) for minimal inspiration, but have not ventured to Never Homemaker, so thank you! I love that there are more and more bloggers dedicating time to learning about and sharing ways we can all consume and waste less. I love thrift stores for clothing as well! Isn’t it crazy how many pieces of kid’s clothing still have tags and are in perfect condition? And yes to the cloth napkins, they are wonderful. We ditched paper towels years ago and although it does create more laundry, it keeps our trash down for sure. Thanks for sharing these resources here girl! x Amanda
Susanna - Hi Amanda! Great post! I’m a reader and love your Instagram feed. My company also happens to be the Midwest wholesale broker for Bee’s Wrap. Can you recommend any local stores in Kansas City that should carry the product? We’d love to branch out in your area!
Celia - Susanna, funny to see your comment as I’m with a nonprofit in Chicago (Zero Waste Chicago) looking to start carrying Bee’s Wrap a bit later this year! Will send you an email soon xoxox.
admin - Celia, thank you for the wonderful work you are doing! x Amanda
admin - Susanna, hey there fellow Midwesterner! Yes, to answer your question: Golden & Pine, Prydes and Urban Provisions to name a few! x Amanda
Tracey - So excited to see this post! I’ve become so much more conscious of waste and the environment since I had my little boy and always on the lookout for tips on simple changes at home. I love these and am definitely trying. Looking forward to more 🙂 Have you tried soap nuts as an alternative to liquid detergent? Just purchased and can’t wait to see the results!!
admin - Tracey, I have not tried soap nuts! What kind did you purchase? The whole idea is completely fascinating and wonderful to me! x Amanda
Lisa Jenkins - Thank you for this post! A good reminder to keep tapping away at those habits, little changes add up & over time create big changes!! Over the past few years we’ve been slowly transitioning to using less plastic & creating less waste. Some of the things we’re doing are: use plates on top of bowls of leftovers in the fridge instead of plastic wrap (though I’m thinking I should see up some of those cloth covers too!), put leftovers in a small pot to heat up on the stove the next day – saves plastic wrap & dishes!, making things from scratch more & more e.g. Bone broth, mayonnaise, pesto etc, composting, raising chickens, buying second hand or using trade websites, making some of our own beauty products & reusing containers, buying bulk cosmetic ingredients in our reusable containers from a bulk store… right now we’re also focusing on moving towards buying pantry goods from bulk stores in jars & cloth bags to save on plastic waste & also growing some of said pantry items e.g. It’s winter here so this weekend we’re planting out a rose bush (for tea & cosmetics) & raspberry plant (for raspberry leaf tea & the fruit of course!) Come spring we’ll plant echinacea, chamomile & passionflower to add to or garden of herbs, teas & medicinal plants & to save on buying in plastic! Not to mention being able to know & trust these items will be completely free of chemicals & therefore safer for our family!
admin - Lisa, I love that you too are into making your own chemical-free products at home from things you’ve grown from the garden. So empowering isn’t it!? x Amanda
Lisa - I love this post! We’ve been working to reduce food waste and implement some zero waste tactics in our home as well. It’s been really eye opening to look at what we throw away and buy with a new awareness. It’s already impacted so much, included switching to a shampoo and conditioner from a company that uses metal containers and recycles the bottles for reuse after you send them back!
I love my linen bags as well, use them for everything and I, too, do what your other reader mentioned by just putting a plate over bowls in the fridge. Anyway, also wanted to say I love your blog/insta, it’s laid back, lovely vibe is so calming and refreshing!
admin - Lisa, isn’t it wonderful how much simple practices really motivate and make a difference!? Thank you for sharing! x Amanda
Erin - I love this post, because I love this sentiment! We recently moved back to the US after a year living abroad, and with it are seeking to make some big changes in the waste we produce as a family. I tell ya, living in a foreign city riddled with pollution made FOR AMERICA will change your perspective!
Some easy things we are doing: cloth grocery/produce/food storage bags, stainless steel lunch boxes, reusable water bottles, bee’s wrap, wool dryer balls, bringing my own jars to purchase bulk foods vs. prepackaged, stainless steel straws, composting, buying secondhand, buying natural materials (for clothing, furniture, home decor, etc. A wool sweater can compost! Acrylic, obviously, cannot!), growing our own food (and buying local), making cleaning products and body products at home in glass containers.
I’m excited to see more of your posts on this subject in the future!
admin - Erin, what an impact you are making! One of the next steps we want to make is purchasing in bulk while bringing your own storage containers as well, but that can seem really intimidating. Where do you shop for this? Any tips? Thanks! x Amanda
Bethany - My favorite topic! We are earnestly pursuing a zero waste lifestyle. We have adopted the newest “R” to hit the scene – “Resist.” Resist any and all one-use items. I think the two easiest places to start are with disposable cups and straws. Honestly, it’s not that hard. I keep glass or aluminum straws EVERY where (at home, in the car, at work), and I keep my reusable cup in my purse at all times so I can still go for a cup of coffee when I’m out. (I use The Keeper Cup.) I just bought my first shampoo bar (to limit the packaging with shampoo and conditioner bottles), and it’s been a pretty easy switch. I could write on this topic for hours, but I’ll leave it there for now. 🙂 My favorite IG/blog accounts are golitterless and meredithtested.
admin - Bethany, LOVE your new new “R”. What a refreshing perspective. What shampoo bar do you use? And thank you for sharing two new resources with me! While this is not turning into a zero waste blog, I do want to share changes we are making and the process that entails, and being able to learn from others who’ve dedicated time and research to the topic is really helpful! x Amanda
LuRae - Kudos to you for using products mindfully! A goal for me too. Could you please explain your reluctance to using multi-use plastic storage containers with lids (for example, you mentioned Tupperware, specifically, but I am assuming other brands would apply too)?
admin - LuRae, we try and keep away from non BPA plastics in our home if we buy them at all because they can release chemicals into whatever it is we’ve stored inside of them. I prefer glass Pyrex for storing food if it needs a tight fitting lid, or Weck jars! Plastic is also not a sustainable material, so waste of that product in and of itself will not break down in landfills. I have been reading a lot about the harm of plastics lately and honestly, it frustrates me that I didn’t know this information sooner, nor was it a priority! Never too late to make changes. x Amanda
Kimberly Schildbach - We just use bowls on the top of our ceramic bowls to store food in the refrigerator.
And we like bell jars for traveling!
Love this post!
Magali - Love this post, very interesting ideas ! I’ll try to find bee’s wrap, I have never seen such a thing here in France. For my part, my grand-mother used to do a lot of preserves, so I inherited a bunch of glass jars : they are perfect to store leftovers in the fridge or almonds, lentils, pasta, rice, etc. Plus it reminds me of her…
Callie - Hey Amanda,
Thanks for this post – I look forward to the next one on this subject!
I really like the muslin bags… but you mentioned using them for crackers, granola bars, etc. Wouldn’t they get stale pretty quickly?
Zero-Waste Home | Beeswax Fabric Food Covers » Homesong - […] posts ago I wrote about some zero-waste practices we have been recently implementing at home. Trying to recuse the amount of trash we produce as a […]