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After recycling, composting, and the sale of “ugly” fruits and vegetables, it’s time for the Zero Waste movement. People and businesses are increasingly targeting this new level of sustainability: no more polluting packaging, waste, and overconsumption. A big challenge, but a realistic one.
Did you know that over a third of food destined for human consumption is wasted, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization? In Canada, for example, 40% of food produced is wasted and nearly half of this waste comes from the consumer. And we’re not even talking about the impact of food packaging that also ends up in the bin: nearly three quarters of the plastic in our landfills come from the food industry.
But there’s some good news concerning polluting packaging: you can do your shopping sustainably, and not just by using re-usable bags. Zero waste shops are making their way into the market. No more plastic or Styrofoam (polyester) packaging! They sell in bulk and customers bring their own containers. Even Bulk Barn, the Canadian bulk retail giant, follows the example of these new zero waste shops by offering clients the option to bring their own pots and containers, rather than using plastic bags.
A Swedish supermarket has gone even further by marking some foods with a laser rather than using disposable labels. This technology produces only 1% of the carbon emissions needed for traditional labelling.
As Bea Johnson explains in her book Zero Waste, let these three fundamental principles guide you:
In the United Kingdom, the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s selected families for a pilot project: these guinea pigs participated in a support program targeting zero waste lifestyle and the adoption of better dietary habits. The experience was representative of reality: for many western households, there is a general tendency to buy too much food. Result, you pass on the leftovers, and throw them away. You can therefore start by planning your meals and buying only what you really need. At SOS Cuisine, we can help you achieve this goal thanks to our meal plans and our intelligent shopping list.
This technology is useful to plan and buy better, but let’s get back to packaging and storage. There is a multitude of ways to replace disposable plastic and aluminum, like elasticated fabric lids. You can also make yourself a protective film from fabric and beeswax that works just as well as a plastic film for cheeses and sandwiches. As well as avoiding waste, you can store leftovers in an ecological way.
Don’t forget that you can also re-use what hasn’t been cooked and incorporate it into other meals. The stems of certain vegetables can end up in a soup, bread that’s gone a bit stale can make croutons, and fruit that’s a little old can be cooked for dessert.
To find out more: