How to Have a Low-Waste Kitchen, in Bahrain.

 

 

 

As women, we all agree that we spend a long time in our kitchens, whether being busy washing the never-ending dishes, cooking, or cleaning. So it is safe to say that it is OUR territory, and we are entitled to do with it whatever we want, so what if we make it a “low-waste “space? How you say? Hang on, and I will share with you what worked for us.

 

I first feel the need to share that my husband does not share the same views on living a “zero-waste” lifestyle. He obviously knows and agrees about how our planet is suffering, and how in order to save it for the sake of our children and their children, we need to do something; he, however, thinks it is too difficult to do it. Some of you might gasp, and some might raise an eyebrow, but this is the truth, and I like to keep it real. Men don’t like complicated stuff, and I fully understand and respect that. I have never EVER forced my husband to live a certain way, and I will not start now. I however, like to lead by example, without judging or nagging. I like him to watch and see for himself, then make his own decision. Because this is the only way he will seriously commit, and do better, because he wants to, and because he is convinced.  This is how we did it when I started cooking healthy nutritious food, and when we stopped using western medications, and moved to a more natural and holistic approach, and when we started homeschooling our son too. He observes, sees the benefits, and then he makes his own choices based on the great results he had touched, felt and seen.

So far we have moved a long way from when we first started, and he is much more understanding and willing to make the effort for a more sustainable lifestyle, because he UNDERSTANDS and he is CONVINCED, but also because I try to make it easier on him and on all of us, by keeping things handy and easy to use, just like the single-use items are.

We also have Susan (who has been my helper for the last 5 years, and became part of our family). I have taken her with me in this journey, into a more sustainable lifestyle, and have taught her and trained her to do things with less waste, but on her own pace too.  Because we ALL live in our home, you might still see single use items here or there (that belong to either my husband or Susan), and that’s Ok, because they need to take their own time and I will only show them how to do it by doing it myself.  My son and I on the other hand have Completely ditched the plastic and the single use items and we both are so proud, and hoping it will come sooner for the rest of our family.

 

In this post I will talk about the changes I made inside my kitchen, and how we are ALMOST waste-free (as much as we can).

 

Using glass and ditching the plastic, was the first action we took. Last year a friend of mine gave us 2 boxes full of glass bottles, jars and containers, of all colors and shapes (Thank you Shabnam!). I use them for EVERYTHING! I store my fruits and veggies there, my leftovers, my herbs (just make sure to trim the ends a bit, and fill the jar with some water, it even expands their lifespan!) I use them for the freezer too, just don’t fill them up completely. I also line them up neatly in the cupboard so that they are easily found by my husband 😉

Each one of us (including my husband and my helper) has their own metal water bottle, instead of plastic ones. We just fill them up wherever we are.

We use beeswax wraps to cover food, and we LOVE it (even my husband does haha!). You can use them for about a year, just give them a little rinse with cold water when done, and it is absolutely eco-friendly and free of chemicals that might harm your body (like plastic).

 

We ditched both clear and aluminum foils as well as parchment paper, instead we use glass Pyrex dishes, with covers, for the oven (which I always had but for some reason it is easier to cover with Aluminum foil ugh!). We also use silicone mats, and  stainless steel molds and it is much easier than you might think.

 

I was never a coffee drinker, however, in the last year, I have grown to LOVE the taste and the smell of coffee, So I BOUGHT a stainless steel French press. I only bought it because I knew I really needed it, instead of using the many many capsules in the Nespresso machine, also because I drink coffee daily, so by using the French press I am avoiding so much waste, and lastly because it was on sale. The coffee grounds from the French press can be used as scrubs, and for the plants too. They are compostable, biodegradable, and waste-free, which is ideal and much better than the Nespresso machine.

We use ceramic, metal, glass and wooden plates and glasses, and nothing plastic at ALL.

I made my own kitchen paper, out of towels that I no longer used, I color-coded them: different colors for handling the food, drying dishes and hands, for the counters, for the stove, and for the floor. They are all placed on my counter, in a basket, and we all know how to use them. Again, I am not looking for PERFECT, so if anyone uses a paper towel instead, I will not frown and get angry, absolutely not! We are all doing our best here.

 

We had a huge stash of reusable napkins but they were all nicely kept in one of the cupboards, while we enjoyed using the paper napkins and throwing everything in the trash once done. We now have all the reusable napkins in the kitchen, near the table and we use them ONLY! We wash them afterwards, and put them back near the table, ready to be used again!

We have long stopped using the microwave (my husband still does though, and that’s OK). I always keep an iron skillet on the stove ready to heat up whatever I need. Yes, it takes longer, but you know it is healthier and much better for your body. We also pay attention to our consumption of electricity and water. I don’t mind the heat, I hardly EVER switch on the AC, even when it is a million degrees outside, but when we do switch it on, we are mindful. I never switch it on if no one is there, I make sure to switch it back off when we are done. We do the same for the lights, the TV, and all the other appliances.

I freeze all the fruits that I think might get spoiled soon, I make soup from the extra vegetables I have, and freeze the soup too. we always eat leftovers, if we are bored of it, we just reuse them in a different recipe.

I buy the ugly fruits and vegetables, because I know no one will, and they will end up thrown in the trash.

I make my own jam, almond butter, tomato sauce, ketchup, and whatever else i can make (thanks to Pinterest!) because it is healthier, and waste-free.

I use the citrus peels for my kitchen cleaner, which I make out of vinegar and baking soda. The citrus peels give it a nice smell.

My husband planted mint, basil, and oregano so we can use fresh herbs for cooking, straight from our little garden. I also use the flowers we have for my table, instead of buying new ones (I love having flowers in my home)

The other area that you could tackle easily is the supermarket. We ALWAYS keep shopping bags in the car (I only have 3, and they are more than enough), as well as produce bags (to use for fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts), we also have glass Jars for the olives, cheese, and even meat and fish.  Just make sure you weigh the jar/container first.  This way I have Zero-waste grocery shopping trips. I also prefer buying in bulk (the nuts, the lentils, the chia and whatever is available in bulk.) no packaging and way cheaper. Whatever is not available in bulk, I prefer to get it packaged in glass, and in a big size, because it is just  better than plastic.

I ONLY buy what I really need, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables, because they get spoiled quickly. Meal prepping helps tremendously, because you know beforehand what you will be needing/ cooking, therefore you buy the produce accordingly.

 

My husband gets most of our fruits and vegetables from a local shop (farm). He asks for the produce to be put in a box with no plastic. After they weigh them they just put them straight in the cardboard box- plastic free!

 

I keep in my handbag a towel, for when we use the bathroom outside (so we don’t use the paper towels to dry our hands). We also use toilet paper made from natural and sustainable bamboo, that I buy from Al Osra, and keep one roll in my car.  I have my takeaway Tupperware in my car too. I have two of them, which I can take anywhere and ALL restaurants put my food there happily. I also have in the car napkins, a set of wooden cutleries, 2 bamboo straws (one for me and one for my son), and a takeaway cup for my coffee, or Adam’s occasional milkshake. I always make sure to wash them and put them back in the car as soon as I get home, this way I don’t forget.

 

These are just very small steps that really don’t take a lot of time or effort, but make a huge difference. Being mindful and conscious is the biggest step, that eases the road to even bigger ones. My kitchen is NOT perfect, but it is absolutely better than before. Minimal, and with much less waste. Perfect is not what we want, we need more people doing SOMETHING. I am only responsible for myself and my son, I never judge or give lectures. Everyone can do what they can, on their own terms, and only if I am asked, I will do my best explaining, showing and leading by example.

 

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Ouiam

A Zero-Waste Life In Bahrain

 

First of all, let me tell you that the term: “Zero Waste”, is a major misconception. We can never reach the “Zero Waste” lifestyle, simply because we are not fully equipped to cater to this radical change. In Bahrain, we struggle to find the minimum infrastructure to be able to produce less waste, from proper recycling methods, to environmental awareness, to the availability of sustainable, eco-friendly stores and brands. It is almost impossible to enjoy a waste free life in Bahrain. With that being said, it doesn’t mean we should just sit, cross our arms and watch our planet die, absolutely not! We still can do so much. We can live a “Low waste” lifestyle, and every single step we make towards that direction, is a big and rewarding one.

If you try to make a big life change happen immediately, chances are it won’t stick, let alone a huge, challenging one that requires a lot of hard work, like living a life where we produce less and less waste. The key is to start, anywhere, and with anything, but to just START. Starting with simple small steps, and being aware of the crazy amounts of waste we produce each and every day.

What I found to be very helpful is to start with one part of the house, and make the changes needed for it to be minimal, and with less trash, then move to anther area, and so on, until you are done. I, for example, started with my bathroom. After making sure to get rid of all the nasty chemicals, and replace them with natural substances, my goal was to keep track of my waste, maximize the use of eco-friendly products, and minimize the single-use items. I must say this wasn’t easy, as there is nothing easier than throwing what’s dirty instead of washing and drying and folding …etc.

The hardest part was to get rid of the shampoo, it took months, to finally let go of it, and use The “Ghassoul” –a Moroccan type of mud, used by grandmothers to wash their hair, and their skin. Let’s be honest, it is much easier to wash your hair whenever you feel like it (the less you wash it, the better), apply few drops of shampoo, wash, rinse and voila, as opposed to first wetting the mud, mixing it, applying it thoroughly, no foam or what so ever, just tiny pieces of mud all over your hair, which will take you at least a whole 5 minutes to rinse. However, the results are absolutely worth it.

I abandoned the shower gel, for the Moroccan natural soap, made out of extra virgin olive oil, which has no fragrance at all, no peach, no cherries, no lavender nothing haha, but definitely so much better for your skin.

For the deodorant, I made my own very easy mix, some arrowroot flour, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils of your choice for a nice fragrance, and voila! Easy, cheap, healthy and chemicals-free.

I also posted here, about my DIY loose powder, and the recipe. Few of my friends were very skeptical, because it contains turmeric, and they thought it might stain their clothes, and their faces in case it rains (not sure how this will happen but …!!). I had been using it for over 6 months now and I LOVE it. I would love to reassure everyone who asked: In case of an abundant rain storm, your face will remain unstained ;). When you use the powder you will notice that only tiny particles of the ingredients make it to your brush, and they are very well mixed together, therefore it will act just like a normal powder, except this one is clean, safe and it smells fantastic!

After a long debate with myself, I finally decided to give the clothes pads a try. As most of you, washing and drying isn’t my favorite thing to do, however, I must say it was the best decision EVER! Cleaner, more organic, and definitely eco-friendly, and zero waste!

Replacing the wipes to remove my makeup, was NOT an easy task. What usually takes a minute, now takes a little more, BUT, I now know that there are NO chemicals on my face, instead I use Argan oil- the best of the best, from Morocco- with little towelettes made from a bigger towel I had. My skin is smooth and clean and my bin is empty 😉

Tooth paste and tooth brush: Switching to bamboo for myself and my family was the best choice. Again, I did NOT buy extra toothbrushes while I was still using my plastic ones, no! I ONLY bought them when we were done with the old ones. Being Low waste (and aiming for a zero waste lifestyle) is all about using what you have and avoiding unnecessary purchases). For the tooth paste, I switched to tablets, which I bought when I was in the USA last month.

When I run out, I am planning to make my own using:

½ cup coconut oil

2 tbsp baking soda

Peppermint Essential oil

 

This bathroom detoxification didn’t happen overnight, it happened in the course of weeks, if not months. But it was definitely worth it. While it is not a huge deal, and I will never be able to cram my waste for 3 years in a small glass jar, it is still a step forward, and this is how I started cleaning, minimalizing my home and making it eco-friendly and low waste. Starting with the bathroom gave me the chance to focus on one thing at a time, doing a proper research on eco-friendly brands, alternatives, and DIYs that I previously thought less of, of thought it was the hardest thing to make/do.

My next stop was the kitchen! You will always have to remember that the aim is to make use of the things you already own, and to buy less and less products. In my next post I will explain how I handled the process of making my kitchen a low waste space. Stay tuned!!

 

Ouiam