Pictures by Alba Betancourt for Secret Supper.
A little while ago, I was interviewed by my good friends at Secret Supper to share 10 tips to reduce waste in the kitchen.
Here's how it went:
10 Tips to Reduce Waste in The Kitchen
Originally posted in the Secret Supper journal
Three years ago, when we set out to host adventure dining experiences, we knew we wanted to focus on serving great food, pouring amazing wine, and fostering community. Through our Supper Series, we met our incredibly talented friend Chloé! Chloé is the author of the blog Conscious by Chloé and a true leader of the Zero Waste movement in Portland.
As we take on the challenge to reduce waste at our events, we’ve come to the realization that it is crucial to take as many small steps as possible to start making a difference. We want to invite you to join the efforts! We chatted with Chloé and she’s sharing 10 ideas to reduce waste in the kitchen—really, where else would we start? Read on to learn more about how she landed on the sustainability path and what she does to ensure she reduces her footprint.
“After I took the Master Recycler training, I decided to create my own platform to connect in real life with a community of sustainability-inclined people and empower, inspire and motivate them to reduce their impact on the planet.”
Secret Supper: Thanks for chatting, Chloé, we’re super excited to share about you! For those who don’t know you yet, we’d love to hear a bit about you, your background, and how you got involved in the Zero Waste movement.
Chloé: My name is Chloé Lepeltier.
I was born in France and spent most of my childhood in a volcanic region in the Southeast of France. At the age of seventeen, I moved abroad to study and have been traveling the world ever since. I currently call Portland, OR, home.
I’m the author of the sustainable lifestyle blog Conscious by Chloé, the founder of Zero Waste PDX - a consulting agency whose mission is to give Portlanders the resources and tools to reduce their negative impact on the planet through workshops, an online community, and tours of my own “Zero Waste” Home - and the co-organizer of the first edition of the Portland Zero Waste Conference.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint a specific event that opened my eyes to the waste issue but three instances changed my perspective on life: (a) a friend gave me a book about minimalism, saying that it changed her life and would probably change mine. I was very skeptical at first, but it really did! I took inventory of all the material things that surrounded me and started downsizing (that would be the equivalent of the current Marie Kondo craze) and eventually applied those principles to other areas of my life, including toxic relationships; (b) I heard about Think Dirty, an app which educates consumers about the potential toxic ingredients contained in their personal and skincare products. I scanned all the products in my bathroom cabinet, freaked out and decided to slowly replace them with a safe alternative, make my own, or not do either of these things and simply stop using certain products that society/media/marketing had convinced me to buy; (c) I read Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home right after I moved to the States and decided to follow her 5 Rs of Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (compost).
I launched my blog a couple months later to share online my journey to zero waste with my friends and family. Then I moved from Southern California to Portland and discovered all the many resources we have here to live a low waste life. After I took the Master Recycler training, I decided to create my own platform to connect in real life with a community of sustainability-inclined people and empower, inspire and motivate them to reduce their impact on the planet.
Secret Supper: So fascinating! Is there one thing you think we could all do today to start reducing waste in our daily lives?
Chloé: We all live in different places and have different lifestyles, so my answer is: do a trash audit!
A trash audit consists in dumping everything that’s in your trash on the floor at the end of a set period of time and taking a hard look at it, dividing it into categories and sorting it by frequency. It will give you an idea of what your consumption habits are and help you find the easiest ways to reduce your waste by making some changes.
For example, if paper towels come first on your list, you might want to find a reusable alternative for these. It will be a simple change that will cut down your waste production in a major way. Once you’re comfortable with that first switch, you can tackle another product category.
We asked Chloé to share her top 10 ideas to reducing waste in the kitchen and here they are! Let us know if you already practice any of these and if you have any tips on doing our part to help the planet, we’d love to hear your ideas.
1. BUY IN BULK
No more disposable packaging! Buying in bulk can be intimidating at first, here’s Chloé’s Shopping in Bulk 101.
2. SWITCH TO REUSABLE WRAP
Ditch the cling wrap, it’s wasteful and sometimes hard to use. You can find Bee’s Wrap in most supermarkets nowadays, or you can try your hand at making your own using Chloé’s tutorial.
3. NO MORE PAPER TOWELS
A table set with napkins not only looks beautiful and feels luxurious and… grown-up (?) It also helps the planet by reducing our paper towel consumption!
4. USE YOUR FOOD SCRAPS
There are so many inventive ways to use your food scraps, i.e. carrot top pesto, vegetable stock. It all amounts to less food waste! We’re big fans of Closed-Loop Cooking’s recipes to reduce food waste.
Can’t stress this enough, it’s even one of the 5 R’s of Zero Waste. Chloé keeps 2 stainless steel pans in the freezer: one for composting, and one for veggie scrap stock making.
6. COOK IN BATCHES
No more food going bad in the back of the fridge. The Zero Waste Chef is Chloé’s go-to resource for all things related to zero waste cooking, preserving and fermenting.
7. GROW YOUR OWN HERBS
Parsley, chives and cilantro are staples and growing them in at home is relatively easy! You’ll save money and avoid wasting unused store-bought herbs.
8. MAKE YOUR OWN NUT MILK
Try making something from bulk ingredients rather than buying it packaged, nut milk, nut butter, even tortillas are a few things you can make!
Chloé’s nut milk recipe is super quick and easy!
9. SHOP AT THE FARMERS MARKET
You can also join a local CSA! Less packaging, less food miles.
“If you’re in Portland, we cannot speak highly enough of Tumbleweed Farm, which I discovered during the Peak Supper!” - Chloé
10. USE A COMPOSTABLE BRUSH
Leave plastic sponges behind! Life Without Plastic sells a multitude of sustainable alternatives to single-use items.
And feel free to share your own Zero Waste Kitchen tips in the comments below.