The first thing I did when I decided to reduce my waste was an audit of my kitchen. I decided that for me, the easiest way to reduce my waste in the kitchen was to look at each item that I run out of and look for a more eco-friendly way of purchasing or packaging an item.
The first thing we ran out of was bread. We had previously dabbled in making our own bread when it came to special loaves, things like vegemite scrolls and garlic and cheese loaves, but so far, we hadn’t had any success with a traditional loaf. We made a first attempt, but it was too crumbly for the toaster. The second attempt, with a different recipe, was not to our taste liking.
The reality was, our homemade, whole grain bread, was just not measuring up, and it was taking massive amounts of time. It takes at least 20 minutes to mix the ingredients and knead the dough, not to mention the hour of resting time and then cooking time. I’m sure just like many of you, I am trying to do this around a 9-5 job, cleaning a household, and at the time, taking care of a member of my family recovering from a surgery. It just wasn’t practical or sustainable.
I sat down one evening, looking for another alternative. It might be hard to convince a supermarket to let me buy bread without plastic, but maybe a bakery might let me. I got on the phone to my local bread shop and asked them if I could bring my own container to put my fresh bread in. they thought it was a little strange, but when I explained that I was trying to reduce my plastic for my “New Year’s Resolution” they were more than happy to help.
It was convincing my partner that this wasn’t the strangest thing anyone had ever done that was the hard part. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. He didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t make him. I went down to the bread shop myself, Tupperware in hand, and brought the bread. To be honest, I was faced with more curiosity than pushback, but that hasn’t been the case with every purchase.
Fast forward six months, and we buy our bread every fortnight from that bread shop. 2 loaves costs us about $7, which is actually cheaper than the Whole grain bread we used to buy at the supermarket which was closer to $4 per loaf. I know not everyone has $7 to spend on bread, and the bread shop there does have cheaper style loaves, this just happens to be the one we like. (Secret tip, go get your bread in the last half an hour they are open, they will tend to give you a better deal so that they sell all the bread before closing!)
- Do an audit and change your kitchen one item at a time
- Don’t be afraid to ask, the worst they can say is no
- Specialty stores don’t always cost more, they just don’t market as much
- Leading by example is always better than forcing a family member or friend to change.
- Support your local small businesses, they are much more likely to help out a customer with special requests