After a fortnight of absorbing the juicy content of your rubbish bin, it’s time to start identifying some opportunities to mix up your routine and start minimising your waste stream. A systematic approach to making positive changes incorporates your circumstances to produce actions that are sustainable for you!

Findings from Reflection Exercise

Since our last post, I spent some time thinking over some eco-products and modifications that I’ve considered incorporating into our home kitchen. From our two reflective prompts, here are some of my musings:

1. Pick one item that you’ve had previous intentions to change

I’ve wanted to learn how to create most essential pantry goods and everyday foods from scratch rather than relying on purchasing food that comes in a lot of unnecessary packaging.

2. Pick one item that you use a lot

As I tend to do a lot of at home baking and cooking in the oven, something that I’ve thought of changing has been baking paper and muffin liners.

Waste Minimisation Toolkit

To be honest, we’ve been a little bit preemptive here, the reflective exercises from the past few weeks contribute to elements of our toolkit!

Step One: Set up a table

Draw a table in your notebook or format one on your laptop, it’s going to have the following headings, that will required you to answer the prompts:

  • Item
  • Qualities:
    • Is it a product that you buy or a waste stream?
    • Or is it sneakily both?
  • Change required? Why?
  • Alternatives
    • Are there changes in your behaviour that you can instigate?
  • Obstacles
    • What is in the way of using any of these alternatives?

Step Two: Fill it out for your core intention

I can see that I’ve made some shifts towards making my own yoghurt, chutneys, jams and nut butters.

One area that I have wanted to learn more about is producing my own cheese and tofu from readily available ingredients rather than purchasing items in plastic wrapping.

ItemQualitiesChange required?AlternativesObstacles
TofuProduct that I purchase which has plastic packaging.Yes. This is something that is important to me. Can recycle products that come in soft plastic at Redcycle bin hubs; look into delis that let you BYO containers; making my own at home. Still have ongoing plastic production impacts; not aware of any in local area; time, knowledge and cost of specialist equipment.

Step Three: Fill it out for your most used item

For baking liners, I was placing the residuals of these products after cooking or consumption straight into my general waste bin. Does this surprise you?

Well, a lot of the common options available on the market are bleached and have a plastic coating on the surface to make them non-stick but this quality prevents it from being able to be recycled or composted.

ItemQualitiesChange required? AlternativesObstacles
Baking linersProduct that I purchase that ends up going into my general waste binYes. I use this regularly and can see that it makes up a big part of my kitchen waste stream. Compostable liners, silicon pans, silpat matsHidden water and energy impacts; cost.

I recently transitioned over to using compostable options, I was initially hesitant as one of the options I purchased Multix Greener Brown Baking Paper stated it was only compostable within an industrial system, that is, it can reach 70°C. However, I’ve found that this has not had any issues when I’ve torn it up and included it in our apartment block’s compost bin.

Multix Greener Brown Baking Paper

If you’re concerned that your household compost set-up is not as robust, another option to check out is If You Care Parchment Baking Paper, as their product is rated compostable at systems that can reach 50°C.

If You Care – Parchment Baking Paper

When I look at the full lifecycle holistically, this alternative is still using hidden water and energy inputs to produce this material and I do go through a decent amount of it weekly. It would probably be more effective to make the switch to Silpat, a silicon baking mat that can fit within sheet pans and be reused for a long time period.

Step Four: Overcoming obstacles

Look at the obstacles that are listed for both of your items, are there any commonalities?

For mine I can see that for both items that alternative options still have some negative impacts associated with them or that it comes down to the question of the cost of time or money. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’re also faced with this conundrum – they’re pretty common.

What are some ways that you can mitigate these issues?

Well, it’s all about compromise – in terms of the bigger picture it’d be great if I could wake up tomorrow, have a full set of silpat mats and bake-ware and just casually whip out some homemade tofu. But realistically, the best approach with my current circumstances are to:

  • use the alternatives that are accessible to my budget that have lower impacts than current behaviours;
  • put some suggestions out for birthday presents for the items that are optimal but are not affordable for me to invest in;
  • connecting with people that have the knowledge to help teach me the skills or have existing networks of like-minded people that make what I seek.

Apply this toolkit further!

Remember the picture of your waste as a whole in your domain of choice? Come back to it and repeat this exercise by using the toolkit to analyse what you can change and what the obstacles are in the way of moving forward through this area of your life.

Share with Us!

We look forward to hearing from you about what the waste minimisation toolkit has revealed to you! Today’s feature image is of my sourdough starter, it’s currently getting a lot of love and attention as I’ve been connecting with baking again, including some delicious sourdough hot cross buns that were devoured over Easter weekend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *