You have probably heard of zero-waste pantry storage before, and thought it sounded like a good idea, in theory. But maybe it sounded too good to be true, like that exercise routine you’d love to do in the mornings—or better suited to someone else, like someone with a root cellar and chicken coop.
We’re not talking rustic here, we’re talking about using customized organization systems to create a simple means of maintaining that high-efficiency lifestyle we all dream of. We’re also talking about ROI. Improvements raise the value of your home, of course, but renovating your pantry to eliminate waste takes things one step further (plus, it will save you money in the long run even if you don’t choose to sell your home).
Zero-Waste Pantry Storage for the Modern, Active Family
There is nothing mysterious about zero-waste food storage. It can be summed up in a single sentence: don’t buy it if you don’t need it, and use it if you have it. It really is that easy. It will take nothing more than a few steps to set up your new pantry, and you will be able to save time, save money, maintain a healthy diet, and live more ecologically. Let’s look at how it works.
Getting Ready to Go Zero-Waste
The best way to start is by doing two things at once. You’re going to clean out the refrigerator, declutter your pantry, and make a list of the foodstuffs that are necessary for you to cook with. For some reason, people often think the second part (the list) is hard. It’s not. The list will be different in every home, but you have an array of foods that make up the basis for most of your meals. They will be obvious as you work your way through your current supplies. We’re not saying you have to name everything you ever eat, just that you should be aware of what you eat most often.
At the same time, set aside the foods you tend to eat but would rather not. That might be sugary breakfast cereals, unhealthy snacks, or overly processed packaged items. Set those things aside. Throw away things that you know you will never use or are expired. The probiotic beverage you bought on sale and never opened because you know it will taste like rancid goo, the tins of odd spices that have been handed down half-full through the generations, the jar of exotic sauce you used two tablespoons of—out they go. Don’t overthink it; just do it.
Save any jars you empty and run them through the dishwasher. Nail polish remover can usually remove any adhesive that doesn’t wash away. It is vital to gather a reserve of containers, as the other aspect of zero waste is reducing packaging by buying in bulk. By storing up now, you won’t need to buy a lot of empty jars, or reject the use of plastics (although over time you will find that glass is much more convenient), to store your bulk supplies.
When storing these supplies, consider using homemade label tape to help you keep things straight. No more 40-year supplies of spices or stale almond flour going into the garbage—you’ll know exactly where everything is (and when it expires by), which will save you the time and money you would otherwise spend searching for or replacing supplies you could have used more efficiently all along. Compost your organic waste for even bigger savings (and nicer plants).
Setting up Your Zero-Waste Pantry
To keep your zero-waste pantry operating at peak efficiency, you need the right storage system.
Adjustable shelves that extend to the ceiling of your pantry will provide ample space and allow you to create a system of organization that can adapt to your needs and supplies as they change over the years. We recommend placing the things you use most often on the center shelf and everything else in blocks around these items.
Mount a chrome spice rack on the back of the pantry door. Chrome baskets can be placed near the floor for fruits and vegetables. These baskets are really efficient for holding sundries such as paper towels and matching bottle racks can keep wines and oils organized and accessible in a small space.
Finally, make the most of corner spaces with floor-to-ceiling lazy Susans. You can think of them as your cheat wheels and put the things that don’t fit into your zero-waste paradigm there—an emergency supply of canned goods, extra bulk items, the sauces that will inevitably build up, the sugary cereal that hasn’t been replaced by granola just yet. This is an important part of functional zero-waste pantry storage.
Long-Lasting Quality for Your Waste-Free Pantry
Zero-waste pantry storage works better when you have high-quality, durable, and attractive organization systems. Look for signs of quality such as:
Floor-standing design for safety and stability
Metal tab shelf supports that lock shelves into place for greater security
¾-inch thermo-fused laminate shelves that are easy to clean and will never sag
At Closet America, those are just a few of the features we incorporate in every system we produce. You can find out exactly how your pantry will look and work with the best organization systems available by making an appointment with a Closet America design expert. One of our talented experts can visit you in your home at a convenient time to help you design a pantry that meets your exact needs, using CAD technology to offer you an interactive 3D preview of your pantry as it will appear after customization.
Contact Closet America today and you can be on your way to a zero-waste pantry in no time!