mason jars not required

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste in your Kitchen


Even though I’ve burned two non-stick pans beyond repair before, I can confidently say that I know my way around the kitchen now. Before my green awakening, I’d bring my own reusable tote bag to the supermarket so that I could get a $0.10 discount. And even though the discount has long since been revoked (to my dismay and confusion), I still bring my own bag. Bringing your own bag is one of the easiest ways to be a little more eco-friendly, and here are 5 more ways to make your kitchen a little greener, reduce your food waste, and save money in the process!

  1. make vegetable stock from scraps

    If you’ve never cooked with vegetable or animal stock before because you thought plain old water would do, you need to change your mind. I never cooked with stock in college and this was because I was cheap and didn’t want to spend money buying it! But since I’ve started saving my vegetable scraps — think carrot peelings, celery/onion/garlic ends, leftover ginger and lemongrass — I’ve been making my own stock and it has made everything so much more flavourful.


A lot of conventional stock comes salted and seasoned and sold in impossible multi-layer Tetrapak packaging. By making your own stock you are 1) expanding your cooking repertoire (bragging rights), 2) making the most of your produce and 3) saving money!

How to make veggie stock: Just collect your clean scraps in a container which you can either freeze or keep in the fridge. Since my container is small and I usually make stock on the weekends, I keep my glass container in the fridge. Once you’ve got am ample amount of scraps, just bring a pot of water to boil and boil your veggies for at least 20 mins. The longer the better, but I usually find 20 mins to be good. Strain out the stock, compost the scraps if you can, and keep your veggie stock in the fridge.


2. cook with local/seasonal foods

This has been one way I’ve slowly adapted my cooking since returning to Asia. I still miss a lot of the foods and flavours I had grown accustomed to in the USA. But after an amazing trip to Chiang Mai, I couldn’t wait to get home and start cooking with fish sauce and lemongrass, two things I used to be afraid of.

Turn your eyes away expensive imported foods which require far more resources to transport to SG. Embrace all the amazing produce — papaya! rambutan! pandan! butterfly pea flower! kaffir lime leaves! — which are native to Southeast Asia. Support the local economy and our farmers and cook something Southeast Asian-inspired today!


3. collect greywater and use it to water your plants

Plant parents, listen up. When you’re washing your produce, collect some of the leftover greywater in a bowl and use that to water your plants! Also, instead of soaking your produce in the sink, try using a large mixing bowl instead.


4. use a loofah sponge and metal scrubber instead of a plastic sponge

I know sponges can be kind of gnarly, so airflow and proper wringing is important! I know that plastic sponges are dime-cheap but they also break off very quickly and those little pieces of sponges end up swirling down your drain and contributing to the mess which is micro plastics in the ocean.

Spend $2 more dollars and purchase a natural loofah sponge (vegetable exoskeleton!) and a metal scrubber to use on stubborn spots.


Get a whole loofah if you can. That way you can just cut off what you need. Mine was sourced in Taiwan by my Aunt (谢谢大啊额!)。


5. use reusable containers instead of ziplock bags for food storage


Plastic ziplock baggies are definitely convenient but they can only take so much washing and reusing (that is, if you are one of the few that try to reuse them). Invest in durable, airtight containers made of stainless steel or glass. Plastic containers like lunchboxes are ok too, but they will eventually chip/get worse for wear and have to be replaced. Do yourself a favour and opt for more durable materials instead.


Those are my tips; what other ways do you reduce waste in your kitchen? Comment below!

Rachel LeungComment