Zero waste

How to have a zero-waste kitchen: a practical guide from Lamazuna

Zero waste

It is possible to have a zero-waste kitchen! But we'll be honest: it's not easy, especially at first! If you were asked which room in the house produces the most waste, you'd say the kitchen, right? And there's quite a lot in the bathroom too... Some of our kitchen waste is food waste that can be composted, so it doesn't have an environmental impact. But there's also all that food packaging, which is one of the biggest sources of packaging waste.

Although there's been an increase in awareness about the negative impact of packaging on the environment, supermarkets continue to sell countless food items wrapped in plastic and other materials. In fact, as far as supermarkets are concerned, the situation hasn't got any better. France Info published an enlightening report, using a hidden camera, to show the extent to which fruits and vegetables were being sold in excessive wrapping. There were cucumbers, bananas, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables wrapped in several layers of plastic. Yet, ironically, most of these fruits and vegetables are already naturally protected – by their skin!

The French consumer organization, Que Choisir, estimates that 90 billion packaging items go through the hands of the French every year. That's a lot. And it's too much!

We've put together this practical guide to help you in your transition to a zero-waste kitchen, so you'll know which practices to put in place – and which ones to stop right now!

How can you have a zero-waste kitchen?

Reduce packaging waste

This is one of the recurring themes of zero waste, and yet we still have a long way to go. In Europe, every year we produce almost 26 million tons of plastic waste, 60% of which comes from packaging (source: France Info). Clearly, it's time we all helped to bring this figure down by reducing waste in the kitchen. And the good news is that more and more people are trying to make this happen!

According to a survey by French company Citeo, which was covered on the French news channel BFM TV and French radio station, RMC, 65% of French people prefer to buy products with less packaging, or loose. This doesn't just apply to food items; it applies to everything. So in France, many people are embracing the idea of reducing packaging waste and eliminating plastic from their lives.

Limit food waste

You can't envisage having a zero-waste kitchen without focusing on food waste. After all, packaging is not the only waste produced in the kitchen that can be reduced. It's estimated that around 10 million tons of food waste are generated every year in France alone (source: France Nature Environnement), and this figure doesn't just apply to the final consumers. According to ADEME (the French environment and energy management agency), almost 20% of food destined for human consumption is wasted every year. All sectors are concerned, from agriculture to distribution and the catering and restaurant industries. On a global scale, 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away annually. And yet one person in six is suffering from malnutrition. It's a terrible paradox.

Of course, all this food waste also has an impact on the planet, as it means that natural resources are being used... for nothing. There's an economic impact too. In France, for example, the cost of wasted food amounts to around 16 billion euros a year.

But there is some good news amidst all this doom and gloom! Because every individual – and that includes you – can do their bit to minimize food waste. It's just a matter of little things you do every day...

Keep your fridge tidy and organized, for better visibility of the food in it. Check use-by and best-before dates, and put the food that needs eating first at the front of shelves. Only buy food that you need. When you eat at a restaurant (and especially if your eyes tend to be bigger than your stomach!), ask for a doggy bag if you can't finish your meal, so you can take your leftovers home. All these things are easy to do and will enable you to avoid wasting food.

Maybe you have a few other tips to prevent food waste? Once you've finished reading our little list of tips, please share your ideas with us, so everyone can see them!

aliments sans emballages

Avoid overconsumption and impulse purchases

Overconsumption doesn't just apply to food. In fact, overconsumption, in general, is something we should all be avoiding. It can apply to all sorts of products. If you buy a product that you don't use, that's overconsumption. It's a waste, too.

Zero waste is also about limiting your overall purchases and becoming more eco-friendly. You may want to buy something new when you already have a similar item that you could use or repair. Or you may want to buy something that you don't really need. In both cases, the zero-waste thing to do is not to buy!

Of course, this means you need to have a certain amount of self-control, so you won't be tempted by impulse purchases! Usually these purchases are not very useful – or not useful at all! If you want to be zero waste, it's best to step back and think about it before splashing out. When it comes to the kitchen, stopping overconsumption also means saying no to single-use items.

Discover our zero-waste accessories for the kitchen

Our zero-waste tips for the kitchen

Find stores that sell food loose (and buy local, seasonal food!)

Our first tip is a shopping one! As a customer and consumer, you can reduce waste by shopping at stores that sell goods loose. That means zero plastic. Not only will you reduce the amount of packaging you consume; you'll also probably find products that are kinder to nature (no petrochemicals), local and seasonal. And that means they're better for your health.

It's usually easy to find these stores on the internet. In France, there are various websites with maps indicating the location of stores that sell loose items. Cartovrac and the carte collaborative de France Inter are good examples. There's also Réseau Vrac, which has a map of grocery stores in France that sell loose fruit and veg.

Stop using single-use accessories and tableware (cellophane, kitchen roll, etc.)

Paper napkins, cellophane, plastic cutlery, kitchen roll... You probably already use many of these single-use items on a regular basis. But did you know that there are eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives? Stop using paper napkins and use zero-waste fabric napkins instead. They can be washed and reused time and again. It's the same with cutlery: opt for stainless steel or another sustainable material. If you enjoy going for picnics, bamboo cutlery can be a great option. There's a lot of choice out there – you just need to look!

As for children who love using straws, say no to plastic and yes to a fun, eco-friendly alternative: sustainable, reusable stainless steel ones!

Essuie-tout en tissu réutilisable

Do your washing-up the zero-waste way

We may not be able to make washing-up more fun, but we can tell you how to make it more eco-friendly! For example, instead of using a regular washing-up sponge, try making a "Tawashi scrubber". It will last longer and cost less! As for your washing-up liquid in a plastic bottle, always try to use an eco-friendly formula and, even better, buy it loose and just refill your bottle over and over again! It's a simple but effective way to cut down on waste.

Gourde en verre Soulbottles

Sort your waste and compost what you can

Depending on where you live, you'll probably have different bins to sort your waste, provided by your local council. In many parts of France, there are blue bins for recyclable waste and green bins for anything else. But if you live in a flat, these bins won't be just outside your door...

However, you could still set up your own system of bins and/or bags, so you can sort your waste more easily. For example, use one bin for recyclable card, paper and plastic, and another for non-recyclable waste. This will help you to recycle your kitchen waste too.

As for organic waste (vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grounds, eggshells, etc.), this can be composted! Obviously, this is easier if you have a garden, but there are also small composters available that can be used by apartment-dwellers!

At Lamazuna, recycling is fundamental. If you want to learn about our commitment to recycling and our partnership with Terracycle, you can find out more on our website.

Banish plastic bottles – and plastic in general!

When it comes to plastic pollution, plastic bottles and caps have a lot to answer for... The French consume 9.3 billion litres of bottled water a year, putting France in the world's top five biggest consumers of plastic bottles (source: France Info). Yet there are lots of alternative solutions – including a good old glass water bottle! There's plenty of choice available, and lots of beautiful designs. Browse our online store and you'll find a selection of eco-friendly glass drinking bottles with fun designs that are impossible to resist!

A glass drinking bottle is more eco-friendly, more economical, and it looks good! If your tap water doesn't taste very nice, you can always add a water-purifying filter. Problem solved!

Avoid wasting water by adopting water-saving habits

It's only too easy to waste water in the kitchen. Washing up, cleaning and cooking vegetables, filling up jugs, bottles and kettles... If you're not careful, a lot of water goes straight down the drain. So it's important to find ways to use as little as possible.

First of all, check your tap doesn't drip or leak, as a leaking tap can waste a LOT of water! Then, it's just a matter of adopting good water-saving habits. Don't leave the tap running when you wash up. Rather than pouring your cooking water down the drain, put it in a large bowl and use it to soak your dirty dishes. Or wait until it's cooled down and use it to water your plants! It's little things like this that can make a big difference in the long term – and save you money!

Avoid wasting energy

Just as there are ways to save water, there are also ways to save energy. For example, don't forget to switch off your hob as soon as you've finished cooking. Don't leave water boiling for longer than necessary. And put a lid on your pans: that way the water will boil faster – and you can cook at a lower heat, thus using less electricity!

gaspillage d'eau
sac à pain Alterosac

A closer look at the kitchen products sold on the Lamazuna website

Fabric alternatives to plastic bags

At Lamazuna, plastic bags are the enemy! That's why we decided to offer some fabric alternatives on our website, with a selection of bags from a brand we love: Altero Sac. This eco-friendly French brand makes all its products by hand, including bread bags made from organic linen, reusable fabric tea bags and coffee filters, and lots of other zero-waste items made from fabric. In addition to being environmentally friendly, they'll save you money in the long run. Win-win! You'll find them in our "Kitchen & Shopping" category!

Alternatives to plastic bottles

We were determined to offer some brilliant alternatives to plastic bottles, so you'd have every good reason to stop using them! For that, we chose to work with two brands: one French, one German. The French brand, Gaspajoe, offers reusable, stainless steel drinking bottles that you can take with you anywhere. Stainless steel is, without a doubt, the best alternative to plastic. It's durable, sustainable and strong, and the raw materials used to make it are available in abundance on the Earth. A selection of Gaspajoe products will be available on our website very soon!

As for the other brand, Soulbottles, they have bottles made from both stainless steel and glass. All of them are reusable and 100% plastic-free. Soulbottles also decided to get involved in a project that's helping communities have access to clean drinking water. For each Soulbottle sold, one euro is donated to the WASH project (Water Saintation Hygiene). This project is supported by the Viva con Agua de Sankt Pauli aid organization, which works in conjunction with the Welthungerhilfe – a German non-governmental aid agency.

Gourdes en inox Gaspajoe

In conclusion

A lot of waste is generated in the kitchen, but it is possible to have a zero-waste kitchen – or, at least, to reduce this waste dramatically! Whether it's packaging, plastic bottles, single-use accessories or kitchen waste, there are ways to cut down or eliminate them completely.

You can buy food and other items loose (and the quality will often be better too!). You can use eco-friendly, sustainable accessories such as reusable kitchen roll and fabric napkins. There are lots of things you can do differently that will help you to consume less.

But that's not all! You could also reduce your water and electricity consumption in the kitchen. This simply involves changing a few things and adopting a few new habits. Soon you'll be wondering how you ever thought having a zero-waste kitchen could be difficult!

PS: you might be interested in reading our article about how to use less water in the bathroom!