It’s been a while since my first diary entry. A lot has happened: depression, a pandemic, the world in chaos around us. But I find solace in the space of my apartment with the little things like, working on my sustainability while reducing the amount of stuff I have. I’ve decided to focus more on my kitchen because we produce a lot of waste in our kitchens, and I really need to cut down on mine. And here is how I did it:
- At the Sink
Rather than using liquid dish detergent, I use the powder variety (Trader Joe’s brand is the best) in my dishwasher. I also use the powder as a substitute for liquid soap when cleaning bottles. Some dishes I wash by hand, and I have a dish bar soap and bubble up brush. Instead of adding soap for the brush, I just add water to wet the bristles to run it across the bar soap. It works magnificently without too many suds and has a great lemon scent, plus it doubles as a hand bar soap when I have guests over. Additionally, rather than using a kitchen sponge or washcloth to clean counters, I use Swedish dishcloths. They don’t breed bacteria like a regular cloth or sponge, absorb 20x their weight in moisture, dry out quickly, and are washable in the dishwasher or washing machine. The best part is that once it’s on its last legs, it can be composted! When I need to use a paper towel (which is rare), I have bamboo reusable paper towels that can be machine-washed.
- Grocery Shopping
I had previously used an organic produce delivery service, but it became too expensive to sustain as a student. Eventually, I found out about a produce subscription that uses surplus and imperfect food, produce that does not meet the cosmetic standards required by grocery stores and produce that would typically go to waste or end up being used in animal feed. With many items cheaper than in the store, I made the switch by offering conventional and organic options. I can get most of my ingredients delivered conveniently to my door for less than I would spend solely at the grocery store. The subscription service has also expanded to offer dry goods, dairy and non-dairy alternatives, meat and fish (and alternative plant-based protein products), and recently added bathroom and skincare products. I’m still not perfect at eco-minimalism, though. Given the pandemic and having to care for a high-risk family member, I still have to get groceries delivered. Which means bags, lots and lots of plastic bags. I usually will use the slew of reusable bags I’ve collected over the years for my shopping, including netted produce bags, but that option doesn’t exist for grocery delivery. It also means I have to buy more prepackaged items than I would generally choose to buy. Although my subscription for surplus and ugly produce is helpful, I still don’t necessarily get all the things I need. However, we are in exigent circumstances, and compromises must be made.
I love cooking. It’s a way that I not only show the people around me that I love and care for them, but a way I show myself love. However, cooking produces waste so when I cook, I use as much of the material as possible (which is also more cost-effective). That includes saving vegetable scraps in the freezer to make vegetable broth. Whatever can’t be saved for broth like an avocado rind or coffee grounds, compost is the next option. There are composting services available, but conveniently, my brother has a compost bin that he has started so I can contribute to it. Once the cooking is done, I use reusable containers and bags for storage. I plan to switch to glass and silicone once the plastic containers have reached their end of life. Also, instead of using paper napkins or towels, I use cloth napkins. They’re less abrasive and can be thrown in the washing machine with all of my other reusable items. I also really love coffee(I make 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day using a Keurig), but the pods produce so much waste and have to be taken apart to be disposed of properly. Instead, I use a reusable K cup, and it also means I get to support small businesses by using my favorite roasts from local coffee shops.